Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Value of Age

Mister and I went on a wanderabout this weekend.  We didn't have a set destination, and we ended up in a small historic town settled on the bank of the Missouri river.  Mister and I have quite a love affair with rivers and other bodies of water.  We even married on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.  History runs as deep as the currents and perhaps it is that history that draws us back again and again.

While we wandered from town to town, we slipped into to a little antique shop and of course, I heard the siren song of an old wheel.  Among the junk and the clutter we found this primitive little wheel and she was really sweet.  It was hard to assess her age, condition and the account for all necessary parts with all the stuff around her.  I was able to reach her price tag and that put full stop on all inquiry.  She was priced far too much.

The problem with "antique" wheels is the market is really specialized.  People are either selling to the decorative market or the functional market.  The decorative market seems to be on the down turn.  Folks just aren't decorating the way they used to.  The rustic look has given way to a more streamlined modern  sensibility.  That being said, there are many many wheels on Craig's List and Ebay and it is a buyers market.  I can set my price point just about anywhere and go looking for a decorative wheel and find one quickly.  Want an ornate wheel, a simple one, a large one, a small one and after a couple of clicks - there is your perfect wheel.

When I look at a wheel, I'm looking at it from a functional, historical and aesthetic angle.  If parts are damaged or missing - I can get them made or fixed, but it will cost me.  The cost varies, but it can never be far from my mind.  These wheels were made to be used and it just seems a same to let them gather dust.  So what is the right price for a wheel?  That all depends.

The wheel above was too much.  It was well over the hundred mark and that too me is too high.  A simple search online can give one a good idea of ballpark figures.  Personally, I probably wouldn't look hard at a wheel over three hundred.  Especially if I know I'll need to get replacement parts.  Unfortunately, some sellers believe that because a wheel is old, it is certainly worth the cash.  A wheel is a tricky thing to sell.  The seller is waiting for the right buyer and that wait can take sometime.  Just because it is old doesn't mean high value.  The surprise thousands dollar items of Antiques Roadshow just doesn't happen often - especially with wheels.  It also bears mentioning that the market has sustained a large number of wheels of various types so they aren't rare.  Before commercially made yarn and clothing, most households had a spinning wheel and a female member that spun to make the family's clothing (a.k.a. a spinster).

I'll close with a little vignette about spinning flax.  Many of the old wheels available in the U.S. are flax wheels.  Flax was used to make clothing and it wasn't an easy undertaking.

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