Antique & Art Restoration

There are no college or university courses in Australia, that teach you my kind of antique & art restoration. Restoration is not rocket science, it is all lateral thinking and pure common sense, knowing what raw materials are available in the marketplace, and knowing how to use them wisely. Anyone can glue two broken pieces together, the most difficult part is the cosmetics, where, if applied correctly, you cannot, or can barely see the repair.

In most cases, (except in structural adhesion, where strength, and in the case of larger pieces, safety is of importance) cosmetic restoration is reversible. This allows for the easy removal, and improvement of the surface when new and superior materials are introduced into the market place decades in the future. Sources have told me that museums have problems trying to rectify restoration work that was carried out more than a hundred years ago, at that time, the restorers did not know that the glues they used, would break down, change colour, or stain the surface of an object.

Buying Antiques at Auction

Christian McCann Auctions
For the purpose of restoration and re-sell – purchasing from local auctions houses can provide a great source of antiques from places such as deceased estate auctions.
Come visit the auction room at 426 Burnley Street, Richmond, Victoria, 3121.
(underneath the Burnley St Bridge)


Collecting Advice

Over the years, I have seen many collectors and investors, spend decades putting a collection together, only to be disappointed when the time came to sell. Sometimes it can take even longer to dispose of collection simply because it is just not good enough. Dealers, collectors, and auction houses will pick the eye teeth out of you collection, leaving you with the ugly molars that are difficult to sell. Collecting in itself, is an art form, it takes skill, and is no different from any other form of investment, most people I am sorry to say are hoarders and do not know how to collect. I have tried to simplify the process by giving you some basic guidelines. Remember, that collecting is like a beauty contest, you try to acquire the most perfect specimen, or the epitome of that particular kind of object.

When collecting antiques, whether it be pocket watches, or old master paintings, there are only five grades you should look out for, they are as follows, Beauty. Beauty overrides antiquity, if an object is two thousand years old and ugly, you will have difficulties trying to sell it, if it is fifty years old and beautiful, it will walk out the door all by itself. Rarity. It could be one of a kind, or the workmanship is of a rare quality, a rare material, a rare size, etc. Authenticity. Genuine, not made to deceive. Condition. Most old Asian and tribal art has suffered damage of some kind due to neglect, insects, or exposure to weather, my personal view is, that losses in sculpture is quite acceptable, and can even make a statue look more dramatic, but only as long as the face is fairly intact. Provenance. History of an object, who owned it before you, when was it collected? is there a photo of it shown in an old book, was it collected by a famous explorer, or institution? etc. If an object has a good provenance, it’s value can increase tremendously.

It may sound simple enough, but to find all five attributes is like coming up with the winning numbers of lotto. I personally like to keep grades four and five, maybe even some grade threes, the other lesser grades, I avoid. You may notice that I have not included age in the list, that is because authenticity is more important, an object can be one hundred years old and be a fake, or as in the case of Australian aboriginal art, be twenty years old and genuine. Price could also be classified as a factor, but when it comes to a great piece of art, if you can afford it, money is irrelevant. If you stick to the highest grades, then, when you do decide to sell, the big auction houses do not tell you what you can get for a particular item, you tell them what you want, as really, there is no price limit at the top end of the market. I remember a visiting American who had a massive collection of aboriginal boomerangs, he was very passionate about them, and told me that they numbered in their thousands, he exclaimed confidently, ”whoever has the biggest collection is the winner!” I replied, “no!…. you are wrong!…..it is whoever has the best collection is the winner!” after our short conversation, he went very quiet, and realized that he was a hoarder…… I’m happy to help, and will try to answer any questions that fellow collectors may have in regards to collecting, forgeries, Australian aboriginal, and s.e.asian tribal art. Regards.