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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Advice for map dealers - instead of gaming maps and buying from theives here is an avenue to pursue that may generate profits to encourage you to behave.

You are going in the wrong direction in trying to sell maps to established collectors and institutions if you want to build a thriving business.  These people are NEVER going to admit to themselves that you know more than they do.  It would KILL them.

However, it is so so so so tempting because these established collectors (of ten years or more) know so much.  YOU dont have to do much work explaining because they know so so so so so much already.  It is dreamy when they instantly GET every point you are trying to make.  And then it is heaven when they actually can come up with a thought that is actually original or an obscure fact that is compelling.

But that is a WASTE OF TIME if you want to make SALES to compete with the alluring avenue provided by the auction process.

Finding and developing NEW collectors is what it is ALL about.  But it takes a lot lot lot lot lot lot more time.  You have to start from zero instead of 90% of the way into the story. So the lazy maps dealer tends to  AVOID AVOID AVOID the hard work and go toward the EASY EASY EASY work.

But that is a waste of time.  It will never never never never work because an established collector will ONLY want to spend 40% of the lowest auction price for a new acquisition.  He is cursed by his "memory" of "how things used to be."

And THAT is why so many map dealers become map thieves, fences for map thieves and use incompetent restorers in a pathetic attempt to game their imperfect rot.  How else can they survive bidding at auctions that reach a worldwide market of small-minded alligators bidding prices up to double retail.  These dealers go to the dark side because they simply are TOO lazy to start up new collectors.  They actually think it is easier to steal, fake original color and replace new margins than to develop a new collector.  And it works until I can catch them, expose them and put them in prison.

And of course established collectors of ten years or more - especially with first names that start with Barry who buy from people whose first name starts with Forbes feel that they SHOULD be buying for 40% of wholesale.  They are HUGELY aware that when they were born, God came down and put a very special star over their head to distinguish for all that they truly were special - one might even say entitled.  Then they wonder why gas masks are necessary for anyone visiting their collection who knows what the word "due diligence" means.

Ten years ago Eliot Spitzer told me that his goal in life was to stamp out entitlement - that he just couldn't help himself when it came to these horrid little people.  I asked him again WHY he was so driven.  He shrugged his shoulders, admitting that it was compulsive and said, "I just cant help myself."   Well, he certainly made a BIG impression.  However there may be a log in my eye on this particular diversion.

My success is finding NEW collectors and building HUGE collections for them.

I dont know how to say this clearly but in the end dealing with someone who has been collecting or curating maps is a COMPLETE waste of time except it is a LOT more fun because you dont have to say the same thing SEVEN times!!!!!!  THEY GET IT.  They understand thoroughly all the points made in the Seymour Schwatz's and William Patterson Cumming's books.

There is ONLY one thing that dealing with an established collector can do - they can tell newer collectors about you and major museum and library directors can validate your assertions.  Because I give well over $3,000,000 a year to these institutions, I clearly feel that they are worth supporting.  But selling something to then is close to impossible and painfully time consuming.

Hope I am making myself clear.   So sad to waste your time thinking that this avenue will bring financial success even though there is considerable scholarly delight in showing a so called expert that you know as much or more than they do.

Here are some ways to develop new collectors that dont include stealing and faking:

1.  Issue brilliant catalogs like Daniel Crouch. 

2.  Sweat it out at long boring antique shows all year long like Daniel Crouch.

3.  Try to sound, act and appear like Russel Crowe JUST like Daniel Crouch.

4.   Give great terms to a struggling new collectors just like Daniel Crouch.

5.   Show people that you are normal - have a wife and children just like Daniel Crouch.  Dont worry if you like to go to bars at night and find people to beat you up.  Just dont tell anyone and dont come to work in the morning until the swelling on your face has gone down.

6.   Dont be seen buying books of blank sheets at auction for insane prices.  People will think you are a heel.

7.   Marshall your self control and dont tell anyone that Dudley Barnes, David Bannister, Lynn Glaser, Andy Antippas, Jerry Bland, Skeet Willingham or Forbes Smiley was a friend of yours.  It is an Art to being discreet.

8.   When one of your fences sends you a 1482 Ulm Ptolemy stolen from the National Library of Spain do whatever it take to keep it out of the paper that you were the buyer when the thief is caught.  Someday you will get caught for doing this too much and have to go on the Lan to escape being Kislaked.

9.   Dont color up maps EVER even if Jay Walker "thinks" it is ok.  You Ghent do it without everyone knowing it.  Your life will go on the Frits doing something that is truly horrid.

10.  Dont try to sell Jeff Siegal a book that Frits bragged to me that he had gamed.  This is a Rudderless way to lead your life.

11.  Show up at auctions and at least pretend to bid.  At the very least try to be seen at the previews.

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