Could you have some seriously valuable collectable items stashed away in your home?
Antiques Roadshow presenter Andy McConnell thinks so.
The renowned glass authority is headed to Australia next month to share some of his knowledge and is keen to see what Aussies are hiding in the back of their cupboards.
Andy started buying and selling glassware when he was only 14, and is now a specialised glass dealer and runs Britain’s largest antique and vintage glass shop.
His personal collection of glass tops 30,000 pieces.
Speaking to Starts at 60 before heading to Australia, Andy offered his insights into collecting glassware, plus a few handy tips!
“Glass. Glass. And more glass. For me, it’s the most important substance ever created by Mankind, and our lives would be rubbish without it. No windows in our homes or cars. Air travel would be impossible without it [cockpit and radars screens, for instance]. The whole of science and medicine would be bankrupt without lenses and other glass instruments. Just try to imagine having to drink from anything other than glass: we all know how horrible plastic is to our lips. Tea is alright out of crockery, but wine? Uugh! I could go on…and will! That’s what I’ll be talking about at QUT Art Museum.
“Glass enjoys two major advantages over comparable materials. First and foremost, is its transparency and lustre.
“Aside from cut gemstones, glass is unique in looking significantly different according to the light source. For me, glass is moody. Glass has got soul!
“Antique and vintage glass also enjoy another important attribute: both are currently cheap. They are cheap relative to other collector and decorating categories and cheap in comparison to the investment, energy, materials and skill that went into making them. You can get a lot of bang, or whatever effect that’s required, for not a lot of bucks.”
He says trends in glassware change over time so you could definitely have something of value in your house.
“Trends change slowly but surely. Georgian glassware was the epitome of desirability to my parents’ generation. But this has changed. Today, older folks remain strong buyers of presents, but many are divesting themselves of ‘stuff’ and have become sellers rather than buyers. Unfortunately for most of them, their taste doesn’t coincide with today’s market trends: they’re selling things younger people wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. Do you have bargepoles in Australia?”
Andy says there is one particular style that’s really taking centre state at the moment.
“Large, bright, hot coloured pieces by the leading designers for the best glassworks. That’s what’s hot! Bowls and most decanters are tough to sell. Modern homes are too small for bowls and most people have no idea what decanters are or were used for, apart from gathering dust, and that’s a great shame: I haven’t poured my wine from anything other than decanter in decades.”
So how likely is it that some of our baby boomers are sitting on a glass gold mine at home?
“Aussies were notable buyers of Scandinavian glass during the 1970s-80s, and this fondness for Scandi-Modern design continues to today. There must be some serious gems stashed away in Aussie homes, with their owners often oblivious to their quality or value. If in doubt, bring them to one of my talks and I’ll happily spill the beans.”
Andy’s hilarious glassware cleaning tips include, not to hit it with a with a hammer, drop it onto granite or wash it whilst wearing a diamond ring (It causes awful scratches).
Even simply soaking in washing up liquid and scrubbing are his tips of advice.
He says if a decanter is wine-stained, fill it with hot water and drop in a denture tablet. That shifts most hard-core grunge.
Are you keen to see Andy McConnell in person?
He is hosting two free lectures in Brisbane on February 10 and 11.
If you are in Brisbane you can also visit the Glass Art Design and Architecture exhibit currently on display at QUT art museum.
The exhibition closes on March 5.