John Chaski, Inc.

American Material Culture

Book Review: Come Collect with Me

John Chaski

Get a load of this, me…writing a book review. Crazy times. Let’s dive right in.

This is a picture of the book I’m reviewing to make the book review more visually dynamic.

This is a picture of the book I’m reviewing to make the book review more visually dynamic.

Barry Perlman is a very nice guy and I’m no book critic, so it’s only natural that I’m inclined towards writing only pretty things about his book. The author’s personality and my inexperience both prove irrelevant. Come Collect with Me deserves to become a staple for collectors and dealers. Like most book reviews written by amateur pseudo-critic bloggers, this one will be mostly all about me, so if you can’t handle it just go buy the book now and stop reading here.

During my professional career as a dealer, doubts have crossed my mind. Not about making a living so much as whether I ought to be doing something that makes the world a better place…something that makes a difference to people. In those moments, I remind myself how great it felt when a grandmother who was downsizing hauled her jewelry box into my shop, costume tangled with gold, and I sorted it out and gave her around three thousand dollars for it, leaving myself ten percent. The look of astonishment on her face sticks with me years (a decade?) later. What if she had taken it to a less ethical proprietor? See, I do matter. Well, once. Is that really all that common, or is it just a rationalization?

I probably should have scheduled a session with someone like our author, a psychologist, years ago to hash this out. But eureka! Barry has written this book instead. Casting into the abyss his alternate future as a psychologist specializing in antiques dealers, he forgives our sins and affirms us thus: “Without other collectors and dealers in our lives, what would we do and who would we be? They provide us with a society in which we can share our passion, energy, laughter, knowledge, and appreciation.” My God, I matter? I matter!

But seriously, this book was a major epiphany for me as a dealer (and collector). It really did reveal to me a side of collectors I had forgotten existed, or perhaps never truly appreciated. When I sell someone a chair, they’re not simply buying a pretty thing to sit in or look at. There’s a lot more to it than that. The psychological insights are extremely helpful to the dealer side of me. One chapter is devoted to the reasons why collectors choose not to make a purchase. If that isn’t required reading for every dealer, I don’t know what is. I’m not going to spoil it, BUY THE BOOK.

Personally, I am a physical book person. I have the paperback and I like the fact that I’ll be able to go to the bookshelf and pick it up when I want to refer to it in the future. It’s that kind of book for me. I had fun reading it; it’s extremely relatable. But it will also be a reference volume. All that being said, I acknowledge that this is not a cheap book. Is it worth it? I promise you it is. However, it is also available very inexpensively as an e-book, some sort of thing I don’t understand, have never owned, and makes me feel anxious.