In the first week of November, my sister Christine and our dad, Alan Carter, were invited to appear on the Chris Smith Show on Sydney's radio 2GB. They were a bit of a double act, with a thirty-minute segment to chat to listeners, give some valuations of items and suggest the best way to find buyers for items if the owners were looking to sell (most just wanted to know if they had an undiscovered treasure).
But before they took any calls from the listeners, the show's host, Chris Smith, put a few questions to Christine and dad, and one of them was this: Has the internet affected the antiques trade?
It's the one question that more than any other seems to fascinate anyone outside of the antiques market - has technology ruined the trade? And the answer is that so far, no, it hasn't ruined it. It's definitely changed things; for example, where something could once be advertised as 'rare', today it will be pretty obvious after a five-minute search on the net if there are actually several hundred of them for sale. And where you might once have spent months or even years searching for a particular item, now you can be lucky enough to find it online after a few weeks of diligent searching. There's no doubt that the internet has opened up a global market for buying and selling antiques, and antique dealers who aren't on the web - or who are on there but don't update their stock regularly - are missing out on sales, both to buyers in Australia and buyers overseas.
The other big question - which usually goes hand in hand with the one on the internet ruining the antiques trade - is has eBay affected the market? It definitely has, and not always for the better - just read Nick Thomas's view on page 31. With nobody controlling the quality of items put up for sale, and with no governing body making sure that items are correctly described, the antique and collectables trading on eBay reminds me of reality TV - no content, questionable value and you're left to trawl through hours of rubbish to (maybe) unearth the occasional gem.
But if it's gems you're looking for - either literally or metaphorically - we've got them for you just in time for Christmas, with our special 8-page festive special that starts on page 51. It features loads of great ideas for unique gifts that will make unwrapping the presents on Christmas morning even more special than usual.
It's hard to believe we're at the end of another year. We hope you've enjoyed reading the magazines as much as we've enjoyed producing them, and we hope that you not only have a very happy Christmas, but also one that brings you whatever collectable delight it is that you desire.
See you in 2013!