Personal Effects, March 4
By JERRY SAMPSON
Question: Jerry, I found a really nice piece of Weller pottery. It’s unmarked and stands 6 inches high. But it has two broken and missing handles and a couple of chips. Should I have it restored? I really like it and it will be a plus in my collection. I’m a new collector so all of this is new to me. I only have $5 invested in it. So I thought that I would make it right. Love your articles and Kentucky Collectibles. Thanks, I hope to hear from you soon.
Answer: Well, I’m glad you contacted me first. You are indeed a new collector and I’m about to save you a lot of money.
Let’s cover your piece first. Sure $5 is a cheap price. It is Weller, but it’s not a choice piece, it’s not marked, it’s small, it’s heavily crackled and it’s a production piece, that means that it does not have a lot of artistic skill to it.
Add to that it’s badly damaged and is only worth $5. To make this piece “right”, as you called it, will set you back over $200.
You can attend a good pottery show or look online and find a PERFECT example, of this same piece, for under $70 or less.
Do not restore it. I would enjoy it as it is and one day when you find a piece in excellent condition you can let this one go.
When should you restore? When it’s rare, unique, one-of-a-kind and for you. Never, never restore something for resale or for someone else. The restoration cost never justifies a resale price. Many markets are soft right now and you can buy good examples without having to restore. Besides, you’ll never satisfy a seasoned collector or dealer.
There are several schools of thought on restoration. Some want it to look like show room new and some don’t want anything done to it. Both are adamant about their views.
I have discovered that nearly all high end collectors and dealers prefer to have a piece restored by their own restorers, if they choose such a method. Restoration is a fine arts skill and you pay for it, as you should.
Unless the circumstances are absolutely perfect and it’s for you and your home, I would not restore items, unless it made me heart sick to look at it and I knew that I would never find another example.
Remember collections, like museums, are in a constant state of buying, selling and seeking out different and better examples. Thanks for a great question.