Tucson Daily Citizen from Tucson, Arizona on February 3, 1973 · Page 46
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

Tucson Daily Citizen from Tucson, Arizona · Page 46

Tucson, Arizona
Issue Date:
Saturday, February 3, 1973
Page 46
Start Free Trial

The Limitations Of The Limited Edition "You Can't Mint Art" By Sarah Booth Conroy Washington Post News Service WASHINGTON Limited editions seem limitless. Market places are filled with so-called limited editions from silver plates,to crystal bells, touted by their purveyors as rare, beautiful and a hedge against inflation. A recent general magazine carried advertisements for 15 different "limited editions." A mail order catalog listed 300. But now, auction, art and museum experts, manufac- "They are mirages, spurious rarities, fads like Hoola Hoops" turers, dealers and even collectors are beginning to question whether mass-produced, artificially limited products are as scarce, as artistic or as good an investment as their manufacturers and sellers would lead the public to think. of auction company Sotheby Parke Bernet's 84th Street division in New York, said in an interview: "The value of these so- called limited editions has not held up at auctions. The china figurines, for example eveu those made 10 or 25 years ago, sell at auction for half of their original price. "We've stopped selling the Boehm bird porcelain figures because of the wild fluctuations in price. The prices are unstable. The Christmas plates, as old as 25 years, have very little .value at auction. They bring about f 2 to $5. "Based on this experience, I would say the so-called limited edition objects being manufactured now will not hold their value. I estimate that in a decade, they will sell for not. more than half their original price." Paul Perrot, formerly with the Metropolitan Museum's Cloisters in New York, the Corning Glass Co., and now the Smithsonian Institution's administrator of the National Museum Act, said recently: Timothy C. Tetlow, director "I find these so-called 'limit- ed editions' distasteful. They are an exploitation of the public. They are only limited by when the stamping machine is turned off. They, are mirages, spurious rarities, fads like Hoola Hoops. David Rubin, whose "My "Soon the plate market took on the aspect of trading on the stock market" Grandfather's Shop, Ltd., in Silver Spring, Md., puts out a .92-page catalog of "Limited Editions," mailed over the country, offers this precautionary note: ; "Although 'they, have only been available for a relatively short time, silver plates have firmly established themselves in the growing field of limited edition collectors' plates. We always recommend to our customers that they should collect plates for their quality and beauty, and that the spec- A typical limited edition plate fashioned from silver. ulative aspect should be secondary. For buyers whose main .interest is investment, the only advice we can" offer is that it is too soon to predict which series will appreciate in the course of time." . Orva Heissenbuttel, a writer, dealer and lecturer on antiques and a founder of the 250-member American Antique Arts Association, is organizing a Washington .club to be affiliated with the' International Plate Association which tries to represent collectors and prevent abuses. Mrs. Heissenbuttel explains the current craze by saying, "I began including information about contemporary collectibles, such as plates and bottles, in 1969 when I saw this area of collecting was beginning to interest more and more people. . . ~ "I feel that it is the public's reaction to the selling of new items for old in antique shops -- collectors feel that if they're going to be something new, they want to be in on the ground floor/Soon the plate market took on the aspect of trading on the stock market -collectors are constantly checking the price of the plates they invested in --- to see if they've gone up and how much. In only a few instances have they gone down and, of course, a few have not gone .up at all." Mrs. Heissenbuttel says she likes the ceramic plates, especially the bicentennial commemoratives. But she questions the silver plates. "I think in some instances they are a rip-off on the public. They are certainly overpriced. But it's all part of man's eternal hope of striking it rich." Many of the major museums . across the country have, been approached by the various mints (most of which seem to be named after presidents), with requests to reproduce items from their collections. Joshua Taylor, director of the National Collection of Fine Arts, said, "I think they're awful. I didn't even answer their letter. I put it in the wastebasket." Warren Robbins, director of the Museum of. African Arti said, "You -can't mint art. Those manufacturers are suckering people in." Kyran McGrath, director of the American Association of Museums, said he was ^approached about a year "ago and asked to lend his organization's name to a limited edition put out by Franklin mint. "I must have had an angel sitting on my shoulder, because I turned them down. At the time, I couldn't pinpoint just why it sounded wrong, but it did. I thought, we're poor but not that poor. Thank God, we did turn them down." Even some of the manufacturers themselves are beginning to question the practices. "Limited edition art, of course, can be appreciated for its beauty alone" Robert E. Wilson, president of Wallace Silversmiths of Wallingford, Conn,, recently .issued · a statement saying: "Are the, investment opportunities in limited edition art as unlimited as they appear to be? "Limited edition art, of course, can be appreciated for its beauty alone.TBut for many purchasers, financial gain is just as important. "The common denominator of all limited editions is that quantity is controlled to create extra value. In addition, there .are intrinsic values of materi- PAGE 10 TUCSON DAILY CITIZEN SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1973

What members have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 11,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Try it free