Firstly happy new year to everyone and let’s hope it proves to be as interesting as 2016.
Last year there were some interesting exchanges and transactions with users that collectors should be aware of which underwrite the value of their antique woodworking tools.
Over the past year we have sold many old tools to users who interestingly see many tools that should be in collections as good value to the user as they are restored to a level that rivals the best modern tools on the market today. When done properly they not only get a tool that will often excel and out perform modern tools but feels better to hold and use for a fraction of the cost. Professional woodworkers are also starting to realise not only are these old tools are just as tax deductible as new ones but when they finish with them they are highly likely to get an excellent return on their investment when they finish their careers.
It has to be said, ‘If this is happening it must be because collectors are undervaluing their rare old woodworking tools”! or could it be they are all to often wanting a bargain price which undermines their collections true worth?
If 2017 continues in the same vein it would be only higher value rarer tools in very good condition that will be kept away from the grasp of the user.
Collectors should not be scared of rising prices but in fact should embrace them as this always attracts new collectors and given that the costs of good new tools are always going to rise it’s important collectors keep up with the times.
If there was ever a question to collectors it would be to ask themselves this: How can a good Norris No: 5 be worth less than a modern Clifton smoother? Or a Edward Preston spokeshave half the price of a new Lie Nielsen Version?
It’s true demand for your tool collection will increase from both users and collectors in the coming years but only if the item is in very good working order which means patina may well become a thing of the past unless collectors genuinely believe paying higher prices to keep rare old woodworking tools away from users is important.
Condition always plays a big part in rare old tool prices but condition to the user and collector are completely different as one often requires refurbishment. It would be such a shame in years to come if the priority turned towards the user rather than the collector so if any advice could be given to collectors it would be this, buy the best condition you can find or focus on the rarest items.
Our refurbishment here is first class and it attracts many users of old tools but I do agree there are tools that should never refurbished but others when it’s done properly transforms them from being old tools that collectors undervalue to a quality used tool that equality attracts both users and collectors alike.
However those purist collectors who may not agree with refurbishment should consider only collecting those rarer old tools and not those that have seen better days.
Q: When is a tool not a tool?
A: When it’s not used because it isn’t fit for its purpose!
I guess as an experienced tradesman I will always see tools as other users see them and would expect them to be fit for purpose and hold a lesser value for one that isn’t. I do value patina but only if it is on a tool that is so scarce it’s very important and early or on a tool that has seen very little use and still works like it did originally when it was made. However given that it’s so rare to see a plane for example in mint condition there isn’t enough to go around to satisfy the collectors market.
As for users there definitely never a better time to get yourself an old smoother which if set up correctly will give you a finish that can’t be surpassed!
This is just an insight to whats happening out there folks.