by Kate Nixon
When attempting to downsize a lifetime collection of hard-earned works, there are a number of potential issues: sell solo vs. consign, not knowing proper valuation of the works amidst a rapidly changing economy, unaware of who to sell to, and how to evaluate the condition of their antiques being just a few of the many problems. Add in the potential of “The Great Wealth Transfer” – there is a critical need for specialists to help those with a larger collection than they can handle.
Enter United Crafts.
A trio of collaborating longtime collectors and dealers, United Crafts consists of Bryan Mead in California, Jason Krohn in Michigan, and Ron Ciarmello in Pennsylvania; the three dealers each have more than 25 years of collecting experience, making a large pool of experience to bring to those in need of help with their collections. The website united-crafts.com serves multiple functions: an online shop, a buyer of Arts and Crafts works and collections, a consigner and consultation service. After noticing the lack in the collector’s market of a resource for collectors, both new and experienced, to discuss selling their works, Bryan in California decided to reach out to a few friends with an idea.
“Collectors generally are focused on buying great objects and typically are less interested in figuring out how to sell things. My goal was to create a place for collectors to downsize or trade up collections; providing easy, friendly and fair options at their fingertips,” said Bryan. “I began to form the idea of United Craftsand felt I needed a few good partners spread out across the US to be able to connect with local collectors when needed. With myself in California, I approached Ron Ciarmello in Philadelphia and Jason in Michigan with the idea and we all agreed it was something we wanted to do together.”
On their website, united-crafts.com, the group describes themselves as “a group of passionate collectors first, dealers second” – further inquiry about the quote led Bryan to discuss what made him and his fellow United Crafters continue collecting. “I feel a kinship with those collectors who are ALL IN, it’s something you dream about and wake up excited to hunt for the next great object. My passion has remained steadfast in Arts & Crafts as I’m constantly surprised by new research on rare makers, the discovery of a newly unearthed gem and the overwhelming beauty of hand crafted objects from the period.”
While they can claim passionate collectors as a #1 descriptor, Bryan, Jason and Ron are all sellers in their own right. Bryan’s own business, Hammered & Hewn, serves as his own shop on metalwork and lighting with a focus on the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Jason Krohn has an Antiques store – Jason Krohn Antiques – providing furniture, pottery, metalwork and lighting. Ron Ciarmello’s business, Stickley Copper, offers a variety of the handheld Arts and Crafts works – and yes, that includes Stickley metalwork.
While the convenience of modern auction houses or a data-aggregate database for research like liveauctioneers.com is nothing new, some collectors are just looking for advice on where to start. To sell or auction off? According to Bryan, most folks they’ve spoken with are just looking to hand off objects they need to part with in a simple process. “…we make fair evaluations & offers quickly, ideally making it as painless as possible. Some collectors prefer a longer term strategy, consignments work great as it allows collectors to tap into our network of collectors & online shops where we can position pieces perfectly for a sale. In our evaluations, we might suggest an auction strategy as the best route to market. With our long-standing relationships with many of the auction houses, we can assist in securing very favorable seller fees.”
Among much of what inspires the members of United Crafts are the new collectors to the community, who are bringing in a new passion to the revival. “I’m really excited by what I am seeing. In the past few years, I have connected with many new collectors in their 20’s and 30’s and can feel the excitement & passion in them about the movement. The world has changed in the past decade and the core human philosophy of Arts & Crafts continues to ring true today, a new generation is finding the warmth & calm of these objects in their homes.”
Future plans for the folks at United Crafts include road trips to visit more collectors across the country. Bryan and his fellow United Crafters will also head up a discussion during Arts & Crafts In August on “Art Metalwork of the Syracuse School” delving into the works of Benedict Art Studio, Onondaga Studios and Stickley’s Craftsman Studio. More information on that session can be found HERE.
For those interested in Bryan, Ron and Jason’s services, check out their website at united-crafts.com to find out more about what they buy and how to contact them.