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

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.

Collecting is full of 'wild cards' that can be tough to value

Q: I have an 11-in.-by-14-in. copper lithograph by Paul Ritter that I rescued from being melted down. A: The item seen in images sent is a flat sheet of copper with lines etched into the surface.

Vintage postcards still sell if they pack a visual punch

Q: My grandfather was in WW I and brought back postcards from places he visited, such as Versailles, tourist attractions and bombed out houses.

Details loom large for Steiff bear hunters

Q: I've tried to ID my teddy bear, but no luck. A: The bear seen in an image sent is light-haired with fluffy fur and pad feet. To clue readers, Margarete Steiff was a German dressmaker whose first bear in 1884 stood in all fours.

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