I have been buying and selling antiques (and some collectibles) for over 30 yrs. started out buying and selling to help pay for college. got a degree in business admin. and worked in managerial positions for 23 yrs. but, during this 23 yr. period I kept my sanity by continuing to sell antiques in my spare time. now that I am semi-retired, I still deal in antiques - it is in my blood. I am knowledgeable in auctioning, estate sales, online sales, direct sales, and appraisals.
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i think that your instincts are absolutely spot on.
my gut feeling is that very few items made today will have significant antique value in the future. the junk that is made in multi-million quantities in china will probably still be junk in 100 yrs. (an item becomes an antique when it reaches one hundred years in age)
i do however think that early electronic items (phones, gaming, etc.) will be of interest to collectors. also, quality items that are made in limited quantities in the united states will always have a following. (i guess a good example is, and will be, zippo lighters)
automobiles will probably also still have broad appeal to collectors - even if they are no longer used a hundred years from now. some other potential winners off the top of my head would be: art/paintings, first edition signed books, quality musical instruments.
I used to buy and sell sports cards quite a bit back in the 1990's - primarily early tobacco cards and pre-1970 baseball, football, and hockey cards. the emergence of card grading companies has greatly changed the card collecting hobby. these companies authenticate, grade, and seal your card so that there is no doubt (supposedly) as to its condition. these days if I run across early cards, in excellent or better condition, I will buy them. I stay away from most cards made after 1980 when card companies went wild printing them. the best prices are paid for high graded rookie cards.
very few items are overlooked these days. however, a few items that I have found at yard sales that many people overlook are: 1950'S/60's era plastic toys and toy soldiers, pre-1990 cereal box premiums, typewriters, unused gym shoes from the 1960's thru the 1980's, sets of American made Revereware cookware.
most of the collectors that I know prefer an item that still works. this seems to be especially true in regard to radios, fans, early calculators, blenders, and clocks. even if collectors don't actually use the item, they still prefer that the item works so that they may show off its function.
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coin collecting is as strong as ever. I'm not sure what type of coins your dad is collecting, but higher grade gold and silver coins, bought at the right price, are solid investments (in my opinion). don't be to harsh in your judgement of your dad. most collectors pursue their hobby as a way to relax and as something to leave their children when the time comes. give your dad the benefit of a doubt, he just may be smarter than you think.
I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone compare antique dealers to pawn shop owners. if the comparison does exist, it really would not bother me personally. many pawn shop owners are very knowledgeable business people who provide a service to the community. I suppose that some of the more elite dealers in the antiques community might be a bit upset by the comparison
I've only sold items to prop men twice in 30+ yrs. I have never been asked to loan an item to a set or stage. I asked several other dealers if they have ever been contacted to loan an item and all of them said that they have not. perhaps dealers on the west coast would have a very different answer to your question.
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