Danielle Arnet Smart Collector

Danielle Arnet

In her syndicated column, "The Smart Collector," Chicago writer and lifetime collector Danielle Arnet uses reader questions to educate and inform everyone from general interest readers to experienced collectors. "Smart" collectors know the ropes, thanks to her wealth of expertise, essential tools and inside info on how to negotiate through today's changing world of collecting.

Having bought and sold in shops, at auction and on eBay, Arnet knows the ins and outs of collecting from multiple perspectives. Years of collecting and observing, plus contacts with movers and shakers in the world of art and antiques, provide a wealth of sources for her readers. Tech savvy Arnet became "wired" to the exploding popularity of online auctions early on, and she is the only antiques writer to always supply Web and e-mail contacts. Now that 6.5 million new items are listed each day on eBay, online auctions are a valuable tool for collectors. Arnet helps readers find reliable e-sources, and provides tips on how to avoid online scams.

In addition to writing "The Smart Collector," Arnet is a freelance writer and journalist who covers the auction and collecting scene for Maine Antique Digest. She also contributes to several national publications. Her article "Why We Collect," written for Hemispheres (United Airlines), is required course reading at Harvard Law School. Other credits include USA Today (a regular column), USA Weekend, Woman's Day, The Rotarian, Modern Maturity and others. She was a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 10 years. She has also served as a regular contributor on Chicago's WBBM-TV and has appeared on WGN Radio in Chicago.

Arnet holds a master's degree and has served as lecturer in the department of comparative literature at Ohio State University. She and her collections reside in a suburb of Chicago.

Danielle Arnet Samples

Big story trumps small value of family heirloom

Q: I'm wondering if our family heirloom has any intrinsic value. A: Our reader adds that his tray has been in the family for four generations. Seen in images sent, the treasure is a round, double-handle metal serving tray.

Authenticating etchings takes an expert's eye

Q: How do I determine if my Louis Icart prints are original? A: A hopeful pessimist, the reader adds, "I'm sure that a more experienced eye such as yours" will spot if art in images sent is original or copied.

Top quality workmanship rocks in lapidary art

Q: I bought this hand-carved bear sculpture from The Teddy Bear Museum in Naples, FL, when it closed in 2005. A: Our reader adds that she paid $1,000 for the 3-¼-inch tall piece with paper tags on the bottom.

All the signs point to a reproduction

Q: I recently bought a boot scraper with a pair of Scottie dogs at each side. A: The writer adds that he has three doorstop books, and that the scraper dogs look similar to stops made by those foundries.

Re-purposing antiques not always a no-no

Q: We inherited an Orthophonic Victrola VE 8-35X made in 1928. A: The reader raises an interesting issue. Anyone who follows "Antiques Roadshow" has heard umpteen times about how any change to old furniture destroys value.

Now that smoking is unfashionable, tobacco jar is a fashionable collectible

Q: These two images show an antique tobacco jar that's been in the family for a while. A: Happily, the reader sent clear images showing both a bottom mark and art on the jar side. We have no info on size, nor can we see if the jar has a cover.

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