Mint or Just Okay at Mama’s Treasures Do you hunt for perfection in pieces for your collection? Does a manufacturer’s flaw ruin the value of a piece? Why do these terms apply differently to similar items?
News-Antique.com - Jan 28,2009 - Do you hunt for perfection in pieces for your collection? Does a manufacturer’s flaw ruin the value of a piece? What is the meaning of “Mint” or “Near Mint,” and does it really increase value? Why do these terms apply differently to similar items? Maybe you just like to surround yourself with old stuff and don’t care about perfect condition. Ask 100 dealers these questions and you’ll get 100 different answers.
The fact is that grading an object’s condition is a subjective thing. Experts will argue about there being a hard and fast rule to judging antiques and collectibles. The more important question is “Does it really matter?” The words “Mint” and “Near Mint” in regards to the condition of an object in today’s market is definitely in the eye of the beholder. There is no better demonstration of this fact than eBay. The words very rarely match the description of the item. An item being in the original box or package does not make it mint. Storage in a hot attic or damp basement can destroy some objects.
The very nature of an antique implies that it is old and has been used. That means it won’t be perfect. There will be flaws and imperfections. I’ve seen Pyrex bowls in the original unopened box with the packing from the factory that will have a scratch or two. The honest fact is that the manufacturing processes in the early years didn’t often produce perfect items. I find manufacturer’s flaws acceptable when considering condition. Other professional dealers might say this is wrong. I put little value in the words and prefer to make my own judgment.
I think defining a purpose of a collection is more important when you are considering condition. If it’s going to sit in a display case for viewing pleasure only, you might want to look for as near perfect as possible. However, if the objects are going to be used on a daily basis like a chair or a mixing bowl; you might be okay with a few gouges or chips. My mother had a house filled with antiques and none of them were mint and some were pretty beat up. She always said that every flaw had a story to tell. She was never lonely because her treasures told her stories. I used to laugh at the idea. Two years ago I fell in love with an old pie safe from the 1800”s that was made by a slave on a plantation in Georgia. It was chipped and covered in old green paint. As I considered buying it, I heard strains of music. It was a very eerie feeling. I was going to sell it but instead brought it home where it now sits in my foyer. It tells me stories and I’m never lonely. Sometimes “Just Okay” is better than “Mint.”
As the owner of Mama’s Treasures I look for quality and usability in the items I offer. It might not be “perfect” but