Big Al reflects on his antique collecting. Photo by S.Abrams

Big Al , a recently retired government worker, loves collecting antiques. He started his love of antiques when he was just out of high school and  his passion for collecting objet d’ art grew from there. As he traveled while in the army, and back to civilian life, through marriage, kids and work, he amassed items he enjoyed.

When he was not working his day job on “The Hill,” he was rummaging through antique stores, reading the latest magazines on the topic or  books on a specific period of history to learn more. His goals in all this was not to make money but to find things he liked and wanted to collect. Of course, he also wanted to figure out if he could spot  a good deal before anyone else snagged it.

On weekends, with his wife by his side, he would scour the yard sales and flea markets for items that turned his fancy. Soon, collecting silver became his passion. He loved the big hunt but in particular, he would seek out Georgian (18th C) silver from place settings to tea pots. He like to say, “folks do not even know what they have.” In fact, he enjoyed entertaining dinner guests with tales about his deals; a five dollar table spoon he bought which turned out to have a value of $300 dollars. He would then jump up from the table and pull out a book with the photo of the actual spoon he had.

After many years of collecting silver, primarily from in the mid-Atlantic region; Big Al had a highly prized collection. He took it to a local auction house and a big event was organized. Several pieces made by women silversmiths were donated to a local museum. After the sale, Big Al turned his focus to collecting American Folk Art. Today, he enjoys collecting what he calls a specific period of time in U.S. history. Around his house, one will find: old weather vanes, old wooden barber signs or cigar sellers – giant figures that people would have outside their cigar store. One fella, in his collection, stands about four feet high, is his favorite.

For those people thinking of collecting not just antiques but anything, Big Al has some passionate advice to offer, “Just Do It!” And forget about following the money, the money will follow you. Also, he believes the real key to antique hunting,  its about good health. And good health is priceless.