TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Richard Farber mailto:%20farberr@netvision.net.il
Date  :  10-31-2001 on 12:59 p.m.
Dear All,

do you believe that the collector has a responsibility to "educate" :
1] all dealers
2] some dealers who are his friends
3] no dealers ever
4] do the oposite and spread disinformation

Just as no collector has information in all fields of carpet or textile collecting one can assume that dealers also have occassional lapses of knowledge.

Do you say to the dealer, thank you for the textile that I purchased and by the way it is not a late 18th or early 19th century . . . .[fill in the blank] but a 17th century . . . [fill in the blank] . . . and worth .. . . [fill in the blank] times what I just paid.

Curiously yours

Richard Farber

Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  patricia jansma mailto:%20p.jansma@chello.nl
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 03:13 a.m.
Hello Richard, all,

I know your dilemma -- I know a few dealers (in general bric-a-brac/'antiques') that I visit regularly and who have become "friend-dealers": people I chat with and drink tea with. I find it sometimes very difficult not to tell them that they actually could get a much higher price for the item at let's say an auction. I have shared this kind of information in the past, but people look at you akwardly, and dislike the fact that - in their eyes - you are saying you know 'better' then they (which in a way you are). As I found out I didn't make anyone happy with my information I have stopped volonteering this kind of information and just pay the price they want and afterwards make the profit myself (seperate the business part from the friendship part).
I am now studying to be an appraiser: a situation I like much better, as the client/seller and I are both on the same side...
As far as responsability goes, I think that everyone should educate him or herself as well as he or she can.
I must say I sometimes do find it suprising to see that there are some people in the 'antiques'trade that never pick up a book (or try to educate themselves in another way)... but that is somebodies own choice, and sometimes their own loss.



Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 03:51 a.m.
I was there last week. (And I'm going to be vague about details to protect the privacy of all involved - except me, of course.)

A rug collecting friend from out of town was visiting Chicago and wanted to check out some of the local dealers. We went to several. After three we arrived at a dealer with a huge inventory of new, decorative rugs and a more limited selection of older pieces. My friend is a collector with a specific niche and knows a great deal about that narrow area (and a lot about others, too - but he's especially well-informed about his area of specialization).

So we start digging through the piles of old stuff in one of the back rooms. Almost at the bottom of a dusty five-foot tall stack is an example of precisely his collecting interest. It's pretty blitzed with heavily corroded browns which comprise about 30% of the piece. What's still there is quite handsome. We take it to the front of the store to see it by the natural light. The owner sees our interest and asks if he likes it. After a bit of modest hemming and hawing, my friend allows as though it might be something he would buy. So, he asks, what does it cost?

The owner looks at the tag (which has no price on it) and says that it's in the store on consignment, and it's been around for a year or two. He'll have to check on the price.

While he's looking up the price, I ask my friend how much he'd be willing to pay. He starts waxing rhapsodic about the rug...about how it's better than most of the pieces he's just seen in an exhibition...older, better color, etc. Then he settles on $4,000 as his maximum. Well, really, it would be a no-brainer at $3,000.

The owner returns and says he has to get $850 for it.

Do you know what a nanosecond is? Well, that's the length of time it takes for my friend to say, "Do you take VISA?" And that's it: done deal.

On the drive back to my place my friend's happy as a clam. It's rare, he says, to find something that adds to his collection, especially at such a great price. I told him he was a twisted, sadistic sonofabitch. Why? He should have haggled a little. Huh? Why haggle when he was already happy with the price. Simple. By accepting so readily you've dragged the dealer into that ring of Dealer's Hell where he suspects he quoted a price that was seriously too low. By haggling, he would have made the dealer happier, thinking he had pushed you to your limit.

Epilogue: The dealer, who I've known for many years, calls the next day. He wants to know if my friend's happy with his purchase. Oh, absolutely, says I. It was the high point of his visit to Chicago. Then the dealer asks, "So, uh, how much was he really willing to pay?"

Now for the "moral" question. Did I tell him? Or didn't I?


Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Vincent Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 05:45 a.m.
Dear Richard,

If a client wants to be educated it's ok. If the client's eyes are going up and down, from my eyes to my shoes, picking his nails...etc. I shut up.
No need to inform dealers about prices. It's all in the game.

Dear Patricia,
Please inform me some more. Dealers that sell below auction prices? Give me the names and all. (Private e-mail only please, because John already bought antique Dutch skates so I suspect he's around the corner, waiting to pop up coming winter at the Elfsteden Tocht in Friesland and Steve will inform those dealers they are selling to cheap.)

Dear Jerry,
So the dealer asked an absurd price. He was drinking and laughing all night long until the next morning his conscience woke up. Money all spent at the local saloon, feeling like hell, he needed to contact his friend Jerry. It could well be that Jerry was upset by the price paid, but was to civil to make a row. So in order to ease his conscience the dealer had to contact you, to see if everything was Alright and he would see you again in his shop.
So do not tell him anything, it's all in the game. He's happy, your friend is happy and next time you visit him, tell him politely he overcharged your friend. "Don't do this again, dear dealer" And get yourself a nice piece at a very, very low price.

Best regards,

Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 06:04 a.m.
Hi Jerry,

I don't see a moral dilemma. If you tell the dealer the truth (not a bad default action in cases where you aren't sure about what you ought to do), who's hurt by it? If the answer is that nobody gets hurt, what's the dilemma?

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 08:38 a.m.
Dear Jerry:

My answer is: I think not.

My question is: Did you ask for a commission?

I liked Vincent's answer.

Oh, did it have "saturated" color?

Best, Michael

Subject  :  Re:morality of information between client and dealer
Author  :  Kenneth Thompson mailto:%20wkthompson@aol.com
Date  :  11-01-2001 on 10:34 a.m.
Dear All

Thank you to those who point out that this is a game. At times, it may be a deadly serious game, since people’s livelihoods may depend on it, but that does not change its basic nature. Not only is it a game, it is a game you have to enjoy and not transform into a metaphysical struggle. As in any game, the players are expected to know the basic rules, and when the rules are not written down, you have to rely on your instincts and be prepared to learn—sometimes painfully—from experience. There also has to be an element of fairness or, if that is too vague a word, a sense of proportionality. At the end of the “game”, both players have to feel they got something out of it. And if either party feels they got the bad end of the bargain, they should not blame the other party for being unscrupulous; they should be able to blame themselves for not being more astute. Each player also has to realize when he may be entering a game that is out of his level of play. I would never play poker with Tony Soprano, no matter how big the pot was.

If I go to an established dealer, I assume he knows what he is selling. If, like Jerry’s friend, I find a bargain, I will buy it and feel no remorse. On the contrary, I will feel I have won a trophy. One very well known and established local seller/collector maintains that “it is all in the chase.” You get your prize and an endorphin rush to boot. The reverse would have been true if Jerry's friend had offered $3,000 for a piece that the seller felt was worth $850. Everyone had a sporting chance, knew it, and was prepared to live with the outcome.

Moral issues arise only when there is a gross mismatch in knowledge, economic and other capacities. If the widow next door needs money to pay her electric bill and wonders whether you might be willing to give her $300 for the five-sided hearth rug that her grandfather brought back from Persia in 1910, then you would have to speak up.

As collectors at any level we should enjoy the game and recognize that even the most experienced professional will occasionally suffer humiliation. When the game ceases to be fun, then it is time to move on. But I can’t imagine this particular game EVER ceasing to be fun if you approach it in the right spirit.

Regards to all, Ken

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