'My most valued item? A $5 piece of glass bought at a yard sale...'
Antiques expert Reyne Haines once sold a record breaking $1.8m Tiffany lamp. But her favourite collectible is something far less expensive...
Reyne Haines is an internationally-respected antiques expert and, with two new books and a television show in the pipeline, has many strings to her bow.
Today, many readers will recognise her from the US's Antiques Roadshow, the CBS TV network's The Early Show, and from Paul Fraser Collectibles' expert panel.
But, back in 1999, Reyne was still a young and up-and-coming appraiser. She had been given the responsibility of consigning a lamp from Tiffany, the legendary art deco studio, in a New York auction.
Incredible, the lamp went on to command an astonishing final value of $1,875,000. Today, it remains the highest auction price achieved for a Tiffany Studio lamp.
In a recent exclusive chat with Reyne, we asked her: what was it like to involved in such an exciting and landmark sale?
"One word, scary," revealed Reyne. "It was one of one of the most stressful times of my life."
The pressure was certainly on. Tiffany lamps are among the world's most coveted - but this one-of-a-kind lamp was even more special, made for the home of Louis C Tiffany himself.
Today, Reyne regards the lamp as the most remarkable item she's ever found: "It was so fabulous, because so many departments had to work to create it.
"It was an amazing piece, with numerous intricate pieces. It certainly made a statement when sitting in a room."
But with great collectibles come great responsibility - and pressure was on for the lamp to do well at auction.
"I was very young at the time, and there was a lot of money on the line. I had someone placing a lot of faith in my knowledge of the market, and what that lamp was worth.
"Had the lamp failed, it would have to be put away for quite some time before it could be put back on the marketplace...."
Not only did the lamp need to attract buyers, it also had to attract massive bids. Just one of many factors which can make auctions far more stressful for the buyers than the sellers.
"I also made the mistake of sitting through the sale," remembered Reyne. "It was the last item of the sale to auction.
"People were on the phone and the auction floor was packed. It stalled at around $600,000, then took off. I cried when it was all over."
Reyne's sale was a success, and the $1.8m Tiffany lamp went down in history. Yet there is a moral to the story: collectibles are never just about money.
When we asked Reyne what the most value item from across her career is, she revealed that it was the first piece of glass she ever bought at a yard sale... purchased for just $5.
"I bought it for a friend who was always telling me about collecting carnival glass and buying it at garage sales. I had never been to one," Reyne told us.
"She had sent me a reference book on collecting carnival glass. I found the story behind how carnival glass came to be very interesting."
Later, one day Reyne was walking home. Upon spotting a sign for a neighbourhood yard sale, she remembered her friends book.
"One day on my way home I saw a sign for a yard sale, and I stopped," said Reyne. "There [in the sale] was a cute little compote." She purchased it for just $5.
"I brought it home and looked through the book and could not find it. I was disappointed because I thought I had found a piece of carnival glass for my friend."
Later, Reyne spoke to her friend on the phone, describing her $5 glass purchase. The friend then told Reyne to turn to a specific page in her book.
"And there it was. I wasn't sure how I had missed it before, but it was illustrated in the book."
Not only was the piece illustrated in the book, but it turned out that the carnival glass collectible was worth more than the $5 Reyne had paid for it. It was actually valued at $150.
What's more, the friend already owned an example of the exact same piece. So Reyne was able to hold on to her buy.
"I don't collect carnival glass, but it's a memory I'll never forget," Reyne told us. "I suppose we all collect something, and memories are certainly on the list."
Reyne Haines' guide to collectible timepieces, Vintage Wristwatches, is now available to buy.
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