Over the past few years there has been a closing of the prices between what users will pay for many antique tools and what collectors valuations. Many old tools that should really be retired and only held for heritage, collecting and admiring are being put back into service due to their low prices.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- Supply and demand
- Ebay – A race to the bottom
- Lack of promotion to attract new collectors
- Poor marketing
- Lack of interest & Passion
- Investment opportunities
Supply & Demand
For some time there now been a decline in the numbers of time served craftsmen collecting antique tools due to them sadly passing away and there are many who are getting on in years where their collecting is usually restricted to only the tools they don’t already own. However, there is a resurgence of hand craft professionals and hobbyists who have yet to cross over to the collecting side. There was also a time when tool dealers were also part of the collecting set as they knew they had something they loved for a while and knew it was also a good investment. I collect a certain type of antique tool by theme, as it interests me and they are hard to find. I guess that’s what you do when you have a passion for a subject. I always remember another renowned dealer many years ago having a wall covered in brass metallic braces, where only a few lucky people got to see these.
Attracting new collectors will only come from passion and desire along with them being a good investment. This can only happen whilst collectors are being replenished by the new crowd that come on the scene and they like what they see.
Ebay – A race to the bottom
This doesn’t apply to all tool sellers on eBay who use the place to sell old tools but its also important to understand mixed in with these sellers are many others who haven’t got a clue what they are doing.
There was a time before Ebay when those selling antique tools only came from passionate people which had an interest in the subject. Nowadays they are often sold by Tom, Dick and Harry who often didn’t realise what they had before copying a description and selling it badly, often with a poor service, which has caught out many collector’s out in the past few years.
This simply deflates prices and collectors confidence. Ebay collectors are driven by lower prices only to find their collections devalue further. Ebay’s auction system is designed to deflate and depress prices which may sound great until your average hobbyist works out many of these old tools aren’t very good for use and require significant effort to end up with something substandard.
Ebay has devalued many antique prices over the years we have seen this over time, however what’s kept prices up in old tools market are the users of tools and hence the narrowing between how the user and collector value old tools. Antique tool collectors have been lucky to have their collections underwritten by users as many antique subjects have been completely devalued to such an extent they have collapsed.
Then you have the wildly optimistic pricing for sub standard goods, the blind following the blind comes to mind, ask many of them how they came to that valuation and they will respond ‘from Ebay’.
Then you have the farce with Pitney Bowes who have confiscated many antique tools that contain rosewood. Never to be seen again and they will give no explanation to where they ‘dispose’ of them. Yes, that’s the term they use and it’s nigh on criminal and it’s making rare tools like Norris planes much rarer as a result. This really needs to be addressed by an authority with the muscle to make them pay attention to their scandalous negligence, this will be something we hope we can take the lead on, hopefully with the support and skills of the community.
Lack of promotion to attract new collectors
Poorly advertised websites serve collectors badly as they fail to attract new blood, many will think eBay is the centre of things, that can never be further from the truth. Potential collectors and investors need to be inspired and feel they are going to ride on a crest of a wave. I’ve said for some time now antique planes by Norris, Spiers & Mathieson for example are fetching far too low a price and some are extremely good value when compared to Clifton or Lie Nielson and will also generally serve a user better. New collectors should understand that there has never been a better time to invest in Antique tools, especially when this established website domain has been revitalised and designed to increase interest and demand.
Every good business requires good marketing and done properly it will make a positive effect its true value. Good promotion alone the other hand only opens doors, it’s the reputation that keeps them open. I guess over the years there has been a few that have spoilt the broth in the Antique Tools world but as we are showing in our Tooltique website, when this is supported by honesty, being helpful and hard work it can ignite the true potential in things. We are bringing in new standards and now with this website will help to those who need a helping hand with selling their antique tools.
Lack of Interest & passion
The lack of interest stems from the modern age of disposable tools where many tradesmen have lost the connection with the tools they use and lack of appreciation for what tools really are. It’s not their fault but instead caused by many manufacturers becoming more focused on numbers rather than quality of the tools they make. The lack of understanding of maintenance is also a major factor where tradesmen and his tools usually share a connection. When there is no appreciation for quality and the tools are simple thrown away after they become blunt, it’s hardly surprising the appreciation for them is so often missing from many users.
You only have to look at what is driving the current online antique tool market, often it’s the public who guess or copy descriptions of what they are selling without any thought of what is important to show. Many of the public online sellers are simply driven by pound signs rather than their genuine desire for what they are selling, this comes across in the effort they use and lack of knowledge & passion for the item in question. Ultimately this hasn’t helped the antique tool market and prices realised due to hesitant bidders buying the tools on the chance they may be OK.
It’s good you have got this far down on this page because the best is yet to come.
The mission is to reduce Ebay’s earnings for doing nothing but damage to the antique tool industry as they have done to other antiques. We aim to promote and present the tools properly for sellers and make it easy for them to sell their antique tools, it will save them time and hassle, sellers will also get good prices whilst the costs are comparable.
Collectors will also be able to bid online with confidence and fuel the Antique tool market again. Higher prices and less work for sellers will attract the antique tools currently sitting in collections awaiting for the market to recover to be sold properly.
New collectors looking at this as an investment will be attracted to a rising market!
There has always been a good return on the rarest and most desirable antique tools. But with a bit of professionalism on the sales side this will help install more confidence in buyers when bidding online.
It’s going to need people’s participation but with us doing the right things to gain the trust of buyers and sellers we hope to facilitate a mutually beneficial service for both parties.
Active tool collectors are part of community and their knowledge between them is vast, this is part of the heritage which needs to be shared and protected for prosperity. New tool collectors will need and also appreciate discussing tools with other like minded people with similar interests. This will again be addressed within this website with what we hope will be a facility where collectors can hang out and where events and meetings can be promoted and arranged.
This is the start of the journey and with many who are passionate about a subject become a force, and it is those who get on early who see the most benefits. Just like the stock market there will be highs and lows but what is most important is the overall upward trajectory.
We have the history, passion, connections, skills and drive with a touch of wisdom and the exuberance of youth pushing from the back. Please take the time to explore this website and if you like what you see so far, please join us and become a member.
More will come as we develop this website and as the membership grows.