As antiques buffs go, James Stanton is unusual.
The 22-year-old, from Kangaroo Point in Queensland, is a young antiques afficionado who spends his free time scouring markets, fairs and auctions for beautiful antiques.
While he doesn’t sell many of the vintage pieces he acquires, the 22-year-old is aware that much of what he owns is an ‘investment’ that could be sold later on.
From a David Hockney first edition book to Cartier timepieces, Tiffany jewels and more, FEMAIL takes a look at Mr Stanton’s impressive antiques collection – and finds out how he picks out the very best vintage pieces.
James Stanton (pictured), 22, from Queensland, is an antiques afficionado – he spoke to FEMAIL about some of his top buys and also shared his tips for picking up vintage pieces
One of his top buys is a Cartier tank watch (pictured) – ‘In the catalogue, the photo of it wasn’t all that appealing, but the estimate it was advertised for was exciting,’ Mr Stanton said
From a David Hockney first edition book to Cartier timepieces, Tiffany jewels and Art Deco bowls (pictured), FEMAIL takes a look at Mr Stanton’s impressive antiques collection
Mr Stanton told Daily Mail Australia that he first got into antiques when he was a child.
While he admitted that he is ‘not an expert’, the 22-year-old said that ‘from a very early age my parents and grandparents nurtured my interest in design, antiques and pieces of value’.
‘As a child, I took a great interest in my mother’s jewellery – and which pieces she would wear each day,’ he told FEMAIL.
By the time he was eleven, Mr Stanton was already visiting antique shops with his mum – and his first purchase was a piece of ‘blue Wedgwood jasperware’.
These days, he collects everything – from first edition books to silver spoons, Art Deco dishes, Cartier watches, Tiffany jewels and more.
While he said he is ‘not an expert’, Mr Stanton (pictured) said he first got into antiques as a child – and has been collecting ever since
‘I’m now working with one of Queensland’s finest antique stores, The Antique Guild, where we have an enormous collection of pieces dating right back to very early Chinese dynasties,’ Mr Stanton said.
‘One of my luckiest personal finds of late was an Eric Thake print. Eric was a highly acclaimed Australia artist who during the war years started making his own linocut Christmas cards for family and friends.
‘I found his first ever edition of “The Itchy Owl” at the tail end of a small auction in Melbourne and acquired it for just over $100. It was in a horrendous frame, which initially would have put many people off it.
‘I bought it, had it re-framed in a gallery-style look with UV resistant glazing. After researching his works further, I’ve found I could now sell it at a higher end auction for $1500 or more.’
He has acquired a set of silver spoons for around $250 (pictured), but which could now attain $750 – given their provenance as ‘Art Deco sterling silver and enamel’
How to get the best antiques
* ‘Learn from dealers and enthusiasts,’ Mr Stanton said. ‘Fairs and auctions are a great place to start and learn. Two of the best fairs in the country are one, held by the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association, and the other, the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, are both taking place in Sydney in the coming week.’
* The afficionado said you also ‘should’t scrimp on upkeep’. ‘If you’ve invested in an Omega Seamaster from the 1960s and wear it often, get it serviced by a quality watchmaker every couple of years. You don’t let your car go without a service for five years – the same goes for your antiques and vintage timepieces.’
* ‘Another good example is framing. Always, when you invest in quality art, you should opt for some of the best options available. UV resistant-type glazing and archival techniques are the way to go in protecting your pieces – not only for your enjoyment, but also for their value,’ Mr Stanton said.
* He also recommended ‘looking to the smaller auction houses and places like the Rotary antique fairs’. ‘It’s easy to get caught up in the Christie’s and Sotheby’s beautiful catalogues, but very often you end up paying top dollar and high buyers’ premiums.’
* ‘Paying things off and “your best price” will become your best friends,’ Mr Stanton said. ‘Antiques and design dealers are one of the very few areas in retail where it’s not rude to ask for a “best price”. Having said that, don’t haggle too much and never offer insulting prices.’
* ‘Don’t go into purchasing something with the view that you’re going to make a fortune. For example, if you’re interested in jewellery, don’t feel the need to purchase a piece of furniture. Instead, do your research and perhaps pick something up like an early bangle designed by Georg Jensen. Purchase pieces because you like them, and see it as an added bonus if you make money one day.’
Among James Stanton’s (left) pieces is a Tiffany watch – which is a copy of the one that Leonardo DiCaprio wore in The Great Gatsby (right) – only a few of the Tiffany jewels were made
This isn’t the only high-end purchase Mr Stanton has picked up at an antiques fair or market for much less.
‘I found a Cartier tank watch at the end of an auction a few years back,’ he explained. ‘In the catalogue, the photo of it wasn’t all that appealing, but the estimate it was advertised for was exciting.’
Mr Stanton purchased the watch ‘for a fraction of the price’ (less than $1,000) – and now he explained that tank watches are extremely popular.
‘Jackie Kennedy’s recently sold for an enormous amount of money. While I don’t have plans to sell it, should I want to in the future, I have no doubt I will be able to make a nice little profit from a relatively inexpensive buy – perhaps $2,500.’
The 22-year-old has also picked up a Tiffany ring, from the collaboration with Baz Luhrmann and Tiffany & Co for The Great Gatsby film.
‘They did an entire collection of jewels including the “signature” ring that Leonardo DiCaprio wore for the whole film. Tiffany retailed copies of the jewels for a short period,’ Mr Stanton said.
‘I was so desperate to have the ring that Leonardo wore as it was quite rare, and luckily I found one of the very few copies on a trip to Vienna a few years ago. Even today, it’s one of my favourite pieces.’
As well as this, he acquired a set of silver spoons for around $250, but which could now attain $750 – given their provenance as ‘Art Deco sterling silver and enamel’.
Mr Stanton picked up an Eric Thake print, ‘The Itchy Owl’, for $100 – he said it is possibly now worth around $1500 (pictured)
Speaking about his tips for beginner antiques enthusiasts, Mr Stanton (pictured) said you need to head to unusual places as well as the more mainstream haunts – charity shops are good
Speaking about his tips for beginner antiques enthusiasts, Mr Stanton said you need to head to unusual places as well as the more mainstream haunts:
‘I look for my pieces in a broad range of places,’ he explained. ‘Auction houses are a great way to get value for money if the auction goes in your favour.
‘But garage sales and places like Vinnies are also a great place to pick up great things – especially in the more affluent suburbs.’
Mr Stanton added that lots of affluent areas – including Sydney’s Rose Bay and Woollahra – get ‘great mid-century furniture taken to op shops when elderly people downsize’.
‘It’s a great time to pick up a bargain,’ he said.
Mr Stanton also likes to acquire new pieces when he is travelling. ‘I forget about buying multiple “little things”, and buy one or two fabulous pieces,’ he said.
The antiques buff cited stores such as ‘Found by Markus’ in Nuremberg, Germany, as an exceptional store, as one of his favourite places.
For more information about Sydney’s Contemporary Art Fair, which takes place at Carriageworks, click here.