Collecting Canines: Putting Your Best Paw Forward
Because canine collectors are as varied as thebreeds they collect, it is difficult to give anything but good “generic” advice. With that in mind, the best advice I can give any new collector is to be absolutely in love with what you are about to buy, and to buy the very best you can afford within whatever category of collectible that interests you. The first part of this advice ensures that you will continue to be pleased with your purchase, and the second part trains you to develop a discerning eye.
Collecting porcelain, bronze, glass, wood, or dogs represented in fine art is not all that different from owning their real “flesh and fur” counterparts. Their beauty is not in the quantity of pieces you have, but rather in having that special place in your heart for each one, and a huge amount of pride in their ownership.
As a collector myself, I can tell you that I tend to choose dogs that fit the following criteria:
They are recognizable. This means that I can, with confidence, tell you who made them, when they were made and where. I may not always know all three, and on occasion, I will “jump in blind” when a particular dog really “speaks” to me. However, I try to make learning about the dog as interesting and fun as purchasing the dog, so that impulse buying is a rare event.
They are in excellent condition. That does not always mean that they are flawless. It means that their condition is excellent for their age, or for the way in which they were made. Mortens Studio canines are a great example. While flawless examples do exist (and we do our best to find them), they were designed by placing the ceramic over a metal skeleton, with the idea that it would make them stronger and more durable, when in fact, it did just the opposite. Today, it is challenging to find Mortens Studio pieces that are not prone to crazing and flaking.
A clear and popular exception to this rule is what you see in “Shabby Chic” decorating, where antique and vintage dogs that absolutely show their age-related flaws are highly sought after. Rust, flaking paint, crazing and a dent here and there seem to add their charm, and also their presumed value.
They “speak” to me. No joke! Some canine collectibles are just that – canine collectibles. Others seem to lock their gaze onto my heart and don’t let go. Proceed with caution. You are not about to collect coins, or mason jars, or shoes (although this may not hold true for shoes!) These canines have personality, some even have “attitude”. Once you own them, they are hard to part with. Which is okay, because if you choose correctly, you won’t ever want to.
Note: The 3 collectible porcelain dogs pictured are all Russian Lomonosov figurines, chosen as a small display of dogs by the same designer, country and period, or to fit into a black & white, Art Deco home decorating theme.