Top Ten Regrets

By Elizabeth Stewart   |   July 2, 2024
One of the BEATO bowls that convinced a reader to only buy the best

This article is the brainchild of a reader who has a wonderful California ceramic collection; he sent me two of his Beatrice Woods (BEATO) bowls that entered his collection and I convinced him to “buy the best” and leave the rest. I polled ten of my favorite clients for their buying or selling regrets regarding their collections of art, records, cars, antiques, contemporary culture, and books. The overall consensus was that many wished that special objects they had sold were still in their collections. They mentioned needing space and money, or selling when the market was right, making the best of a certain situation. Still, many sold special pieces that they MISSED. This is classic Seller’s Remorse! A few folks mentioned experiences when they SHOULD have bought (missed out on a purchase), or sold too late when the market had already fallen. Here’s the Best Responses to my question: What have you collected or sold that YOU regret?

1. “I regret that I sold my grandmother’s English 19th century oil painting TOO CHEAPLY. The dealer to whom I sold it made a HUGE profit!” 

My comment: this is what is called “action” on the secondary market, and that ‘resale’ market is super important. Here’s proof: eBay’s 2023 annual revenue was $10.1 BILLION; their net income was $2.78 BILLION. Buying and selling for a profit is expected – we all have to pay for our LUNCH.

2. “I regret not researching the value of a particular object I sold at Mom’s yard sale, because once I saw the gleam in the buyer’s eye I got worried, but I just wanted to get it over with.” 

Here’s my hint: leave the items you are unsure about UNPRICED. If someone gets out a phone and diligently looks something up at your sale, he/she smells a ‘score.’ Ask him/her to make you an offer, listen, and double that offer. And counter…

3. “I regret selling my 1932 Ford three-window coupe: We didn’t have the space, the rats got to the wiring, my wife hated it, and I told myself we could use the money. So, I took the money. On the one hand, I have a pile of money. On the other I have a pile of potential regrets. I miss the darn thing!”

4. “I bought too many ‘bargains’ that turned out to be mediocre pieces. I regret not buying at the top end. Today I take quality over quantity for my midcentury California Ceramic collecting.”

5. “I regret selling my vinyl LP collection, so I am now buying some of those treasured records BACK. I could KICK myself for both selling and buying (again).”

6. “I regret I ever started a collection (in this case comic books). I am guilty of three hundred counts of regret. At one time I loved the hunt, the knowledge, the fans, the competitive greed for a good title, and today the issues sit in five big cardboard boxes. My time is valuable and there are too many to research! I always thought of the collection as a huge investment, but I could not predict the future; now it is an extra object to insure. (The following is said *hopefully*) ‘I am banking on the comic books increasing in value…’”

7. “I regret that I am out of style because I LIKE my things; I am not politically or environmentally correct – as my kids say, I am an old hoarder! My kids would like me to donate or sell before they have to deal with the stuff; they don’t want the hassle. They say, ‘get with the times, mom. People don’t have antiques anymore. They have hardly any monetary value.’ Even though I feel I am a dinosaur, they DO have value to me… but I feel guilty for keeping them.”

8. I looked on ‘Community eBay’ (a seller’s forum) for their thread ‘Your Biggest Selling Regret.’ Those “flippers” – those professional sellers – had to train themselves NOT to regret selling something to which they could have become attached. One seller said: 

“A collector can become an object, and the objects then become the collector (of the person!) And in turn the collection collects the dust which the collector will eventually become. Memento Mori…” He suggested before THAT end happens, pass the objects ALONG and let someone else find the thrill of the hunt – or in his words, “find the joy.”

9. “I regret beginning to own ANYTHING.”

10. “I regret SELLING a few things that I will never forget.”  


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