The Green Antique Business

Daryle Lambert’s 31 Club Blog

Antique Business for Newbies & Seasoned Professionals 

Malachite and Mexican Silver Centerpiece offered at 31 Gallery & Marketplace.

Yes, going green is the “in” thing to do these days, but we in the Antique Business have been green all along. We don’t follow the crowd, we lead the crowd. You see, we don’t manufacture new products and contribute to the by products associated with this process, rather we recycle and buy existing items to use again and again. These “recycled” items have a life of their own, and we connect these items with those who seek them out – The Collectors. Today, there’s another way to “go green” in the Antique Business. Malachite.

Malachite is a green semi-precious stone that has irregular bands, or rings, running through it. These layers are usually darker than the predominant green of this stone, and it’s very eye appealing. Imitation malachite has very regular black or white banding. Larger deposits of malachite come from Zaire, Siberia and Australia among other places. I believe it is one of the most beautiful stones you can acquire. It is often said to have healing and mystical properties, but I’ll leave that up to you. I’ve linked a site below where you can read more, but don’t forget to research this yourself. That’s how you’ll learn best.

Often, you will find inexpensive pieces of Malachite from the Czech Republic made into small animals, flowers or other designs, but the true value is in larger pieces such as boxes or jewelery cases. I once found a jewelery case made of Malachite and bought it just because I found it to be so beautiful. I didn’t know much about it at the time, and thought my wife would really like to have it sitting on her dresser. I hate to admit this, but when I got home and began researching its value, it didn’t stay in our house very long.

My wife always says I sell everything she likes, and that’s probably true, because she’s got great taste and an eye for quality. However, in this case, an easy couple of thousand dollars quick profit was more than I could resist. I’ve done the same with toys I’ve come across, thinking I’d bring it home for my son, Josh. I guess that doesn’t make me too popular around the house, but we’ve still managed to acquire a quality collection of items, despite this habit of mine.

So why might you be paying attention to Malachite? It’s one item many people overlook, and once you’re aware of the better pieces, you might just find a treasure at that estate sale after all.

We’ve got a beautiful example of a better piece in our 31 Gallery & Marketplace. It’s a centerpiece of Malachite birds and Mexican Silver, and that’s what today’s photo is. You can get the details of this item here.

So, stay “green” and don’t forget the Malachite.


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Antique Business: Historic Events and Value

To be in the Antique and Fine Arts Business, history must hold some interest for you; enough interest to search out things from the past. Perhaps this business takes you back to those times or the events when the items you’ve discovered were produced, and this is an important connection in your life at some level. When I discover a great painting, I feel as if I knew the artist, because I am holding his work in my hands. Have you ever had that feeling?


The news coverage of this presidential election and the current news coverage of Hurricane Gustav has made me think about other events in our history. People’s memories are often short, but to the Collector of Historical Items, these events are forward in their mind and close to their heart. Those of us in this business have a deep appreciation for history, and this appreciation can help fatten our wallets and help to provide for our families by connecting those items we’ve found with a collector who is seeking them.

So what might be the historical events collectors seek items from?

On my local front, The Chicago Fire caused many stories to be created about its source. Did Mrs. O’Leary’s cow really kick over the lantern that set the whole city ablaze? If you come across items associated with this fire, there are many collectors who’d have great interest in this. How about events in your region of the country?

The Great San Francisco Earthquake is a great part of U.S. Western history. Even today, all the stories about future quakes are compared to that one. I am sure there are great pieces from this era that can only be found by looking in every old trunk you run across.

What could be more vividly etched in our minds than 9/11 or the assassination of President Kennedy? I can’t count the times I’ve heard people reciting exactly where they were when these events happened.

Remember the Martin Luther King letters I told you about? They were found by a friend of mine in a box lot at a local auction house who holds auctions twice a month. He bought them for next to nothing. It wouldn’t surprise me, if today, these letters could bring over $10,000.

How about the original copy of the Declaration of Independence that was found behind a two dollar print? At one time, an auction house estimated this to be worth over $3.5 million. Since that time, this document has been sold at auction, however, I don’t remember the exact hammer price. You can be certain is was quite substantial.

In our hunt for items from history, we should always remember that most of these items aren’t discovered out in the open. Rather, they’re hidden in trunks, basements, attics, behind cheap framed prints, or in scrapbooks or shoeboxes just waiting for us to uncover them. Even if they are out in the open, most eyes can’t recognize them, because many people who see them don’t have the knowledge of history necessary to know their value.

The story of a box of several dozen love letters written by a sailor during the Second World War brought great interest to me recently. The article seemed to infer that these letters would have significant historical value, and therefore, dollar value. Why did this interest me? Because the day I saw that story, we had just purchased 147 letters from a Confederate Soldier written to his wife. If the first letters, written sixty years ago, were considered valuable, how about letters written 160 years ago during the Civil War – one of the most significant events in this country’s history?

Only so many Tiffany Glass pieces or Rookwood Pottery items were produced, but the number of items that have historical content are unlimited. This gives us a great opportunity each day to find one of these treasures, if we’ll only look.

I am sure that you can think of many more events from the past as well as the people associated with them, either nationally or local to your area. If these events mean something to you, they might also have importance to others. And they might hold some surprise value when a Collector wants to buy it from you. Who knows? A Historical Society or Museum might even be interested.

If you have found anything of historical significance, please send me an email describing it and I will share it with the rest of our members.

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