The flood of information that the internet has created has made us all more informed, but I am
not so certain that it has made us more knowledgeable. The "fake" news that dogged the American
election is not something that happens only in politics. The art and antiques business is also
plagued with incomplete narratives in the form of information on prices going back over the
years. A valuable resource from one point of view, but entirely useless in the wrong hands.
The biggest problem facing dealers are the false equivalencies made between items that, in a
dealer's eyes, are in no way similar. Whatever the piece may be, there are differences in
condition, provenance, quality, craftsmanship, and rarity that need assessing. These differences
are hugely important that can make two similar looking items vastly different, a difference not
readily seen on a computer screen or print out.
The false equivalencies drawn from such information are the difference between knowledge and
information. I don't care how good the photos you see on a screen may be or how reputable the
source, there is always more to learn when systematically examining an item. This is dealer
knowledge, because dealers do it again and again. And, most importantly, their money is on the
line when they do, so they better be right.
Being informed about things certainly isn't bad, just incomplete. But being
knowledgeable about something requires work and study. This is one reason why the art and antique
dealing trade is so very important. It isn't just about taste or preference, as much
as they can be important, it is about understanding on a level that encompasses much more than
the object in front of them. This is what dealers are for, this is why we trade. It is an
President of CINOA