1. bookVolume 17 (2017): Issue 2 (December 2017)
Journal Details
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First Published
15 Jun 2014
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2 times per year
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English
access type Open Access

The Poetry of Antiques: Trade and/in Knowledge among British Antiques Dealers

Published Online: 30 Mar 2018
Page range: 24 - 45
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
15 Jun 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English

This article considers the role of information, communication, and knowledge in processes of exchange and value creation in the British antiques market. As such, it positions itself between the long-standing anthropological interest in the cultural construction of value (see APPADURAI 1986; GRAEBER 2001), and the equally long-standing interest in how asymmetries of information affect consumer behaviour (see AKERLOF 1970). Drawing on ethnographic material gathered over three months of fieldwork amongst antique dealers in the Notting Hill and Kensington Area of London, I aim to through light on what it is that dealers ‘know’ and how this knowledge is translated into profit within the trade. I argue that dealers’ knowledge of objects is encyclopaedic, discursive, and tactile at once and it is gained mainly through many years of handling of objects. Dealers must also keep abreast with the market movement of objects and their prices using this information to gage the potential profit they may accrue from a deal. Both forms of knowledge, I argue, are mobilized at once when a dealer is investing in stock and when he or she seeks to sell an item, in a ritual of show-and-tell that serves to both to verify the quality, condition and authenticity of a piece and to simultaneously negotiate its price.

Keywords

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