Thursday, October 14, 2010

Provenance: Sharing your Story

In my ten years as a dealer, I have heard many stories from customers. Some were funny stories about how people came to collect a particular genre of items or happy stories about bargains hunted. Others were stories of sadness over treasures broken and lost or families competing for estate items. Countless people have come in looking for a treasure "just like the Grandma's."

Many grandparents have also told me sadly that their children and grandchildren don't care about their collections. These collectors are imagining their treasures being sold for pennies on the dollar at a yard sale or - worse yet - being chucked in the landfill. This is why it's so important to tell our children the stories of our collections. Even if descendants choose to sell their inheritance, they should know the value of it. Whether your collection is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it has more value when accompanied by the story or provenance of your items. Personal stories add value for your family, and stories of origin add value for resale.

There are various media for capturing stories.
  • A Journal - draw the items and write down their stories
  • A Scrapbook - photograph the items and write or type the stories
  • A Video - Tell the stories of each item while videotaping several angles
  • Computer database - include digital/scanned photos and the stories
  • Simply write down the story and store it with the item
Include in each story
  1. purchase price if known, with original or scanned receipt if possible
  2. story of origin as well as how and to whom the item has been passed
  3. info about professional cleaning, restoring, repairing that has occurred
  4. professional appraisal documents if appraised
  5. any personal stories about the items

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