Annual Review for 2008

The 2008 year was another interesting one for miniature portrait collectors.

Although, very much a niche area of collecting, it seems to be of interest to a surprising number of people. I get three or four emails a week from visitors asking about miniatures and do try to answer them all. Many of the emails are asking about decorative or fake miniatures. However, that is to be expected, as genuine miniatures are very much in a minority, as a proportion of the total in existence.

The 2008 acquisitions to this collection should appear here as a slide-show, if I have got the linkage to work! The slide-show may take up to a minute to appear. If it does, the miniatures will then appear in an approximate chronological order of when they were painted.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, this collection has set out to indicate that it is possible for an ordinary collector to assemble a collection of international interest and merit, even on a limited budget. The target average budget cost for purchasing is $500 and naturally there is a wide range. The most expensive miniature portrait in 2008 cost $2000 and the cheapest one cost about $50. Thus to come in at an average cost of just under $400 for 2008, compared to the budget average limit of $500 was pleasing.

Buying for the collection was a little more restrained in 2008, than in 2007, as indicated by the following table of miniatures purchased.

Origin ..................... 2008

American ................. 33
British ...................... 18
European ..................07
Total ......................... 58
Total cost ......... $22,500
Average cost ......... $388

This compares to 90 miniatures in 2007, which had an average cost of $435. For more details on 2007, see Annual Review for 2007

My favourite "top ten" acquisitions, but not necessarily in order of importance are:

Michael Rosse- portrait of King William III, see View
Walter Ferris Biggs - portrait of Luna Alston de Gallegos, see View
William Douglas - portraits of his children, see View
Jeanne Maricot - portrait of a lady, see View
Daniel and Maria Louise Wagner - portrait of a lady, see View
Charles Fraser- portrait of Mary Branford Shubrick, see View
Dorothea Kellner - portraits of General and Mrs von Cramon, see View
Henry Bone - portrait of Sir Anthony Carlisle, see View
Mervia Carpenter - self portrait, see View
William John Thomson - portrait of Charlotte Knox Trotter, see View

It is quite hard to make such a selection, as it leaves out miniatures acquired during the year by artists such as; Nathaniel Rogers, Joseph Wood, Anson Dickinson, John Wood Dodge, and of sitters such as; Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, the Root family, John Tweed, and the 4th Earl of Egremont.

As 2008, has been such a disastrous year for investments in equities and houses, it is relevant to consider the investment implications of miniature portraits, although investment gains are not the main purpose of collecting these miniatures.

The main difference between an investment and a collection, is that an investment is for sale, but a collection is not for sale. Thus these miniatures are defined as a collection, not as an investment.

Nevertheless, estimated values do give an indication as to whether money has been spent wisely. Also, perhaps to encourage other people contemplating the collecting of miniatures, to realise that they can be worth more than they cost, provided one is careful.

As noted above, in 2008, 58 miniatures were purchased for about $22,500. Obviously, one can only be sure of selling values by going to the market and allowing for all selling costs.

Dealer experts will have their own opinion and judgement on the net market value of the 58 miniatures acquired this year, but a considered guestimate is for a combined net auction value, after selling fees at a specialist auction, of around $50,000. Thus on average, they are probably worth around two and a half times their cost.

The reasons for a margin over cost are threefold; luck, knowledge, and research, mainly the latter.

Research is very time consuming, but learning the background to the sitter in a miniature and building up its history, adds enormously to its interest and hence its value.

2009 Additions and Comments
Hopefully, visitors will feel that my 2008 comments have added to general knowledge on a fascinating subject.

I will open a new section for 2009 comments and so anyone interested in following any comments and additions during 2009, should link to the home page instead of this page.

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