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Hard-to-find Antiques and Collectibles

Updated: Apr 17

Port Pickers have lots that you won’t find in any other antique store. There is a huge range encompassing just about everything.

Proprietor Darius Witecki says he could rattle off 100 items he has that no other antique shop has in this area.

He told us, "Number one, I don't believe any shop has a taxidermy rooster, a signed Chuck Norris picture, I don't believe anyone has a massive range of Diana Lady lamps. I would wager, no-one has a collection of pocket knives like we do here.

"I have the largest range of boom boxes, pedal cars, suitcases. I just purchased a huge range of cameras - there's no antique shop that has the range of records and stereos that I have. I think my art glass collection is one of the best in NSW,“ Darius added.

An expert in the antiques and collectibles industry

When you learn to take an interest in everything and not just the things that you're interested in, know a little about everything and not just everything about one thing, Darius would consider you an expert in antiques and collectibles.

“If you want to open a clock shop, become an expert in clocks," he told us. "Then you will be the best in your field. If you want to be an expert in antiques and collectibles, broaden your knowledge about everything.”

His father was an avid collector with an eye for Franklin Mint items. Darius grew up in Melbourne surrounded by antiques and collectibles stores - he was born to be a part of the field. But he admits he has a love for one type of collectible: watches. For his 14th birthday he was given an Omega Seamaster and on his 16th birthday, an Omega Speedmaster watch.

Now, the Omega Speedmaster is the most popular Omega watch ever made and the most desirable to the collector today. Even as a child it seems Darius had an eye for items that were future collectibles. “I knew the Speedmaster was going to be a collectible," he says. "It was the first watch worn on the moon, it was the only watch that passed all of the rigorous testing to meet NASA’s standards of a watch to be worn on the moon. So I knew back then it was going to be collectible. I have bought and sold hundreds of Omega Speedmasters. And still today it is one of my favourite watches. That and the Rolex Daytona.”

This love of watches has evolved into a love and passion for everything in the antique and collectibles industry.

Collectibles… what are they?

Something that is not common and is sought after, not all collectibles are worth money. People often collect purely for their own enjoyment and the good memories it brings them. “A lot of our customers collect what they grew up with as children,” Darius explained.

When is a collectible not collectible?

When it is no longer interesting to people. “An example of this would be a phone card," says Darius. "People went nuts over them at one stage, now you can't even give them away. What is a phone card you say? It was like a prepaid card to make phone calls. People would go from phone booth to phone booth looking for cards, they were quite expensive back then.

"Around 15-20 years ago when Atari, Nintendo and Sega were no longer interesting, Op shops were selling them for as little as $10 and now, you can expect to pay $50 just for a controller," he explains. Darius was buying a complete set and 20 games for $10 or so and says he could even find them left on the curb side outside houses in their original boxes. Today, these sets are worth $500 or above.

Another thing he was buying years ago was records, paying just a dollar each for them! He stock piled them. Good move as now they are worth hundreds and are considered very collectible.

“Cassette tapes are something I got into not long ago, buying them for 50 cents each about 5 years ago, even up until 3 years ago. I just sold a set of 8 AC/DC cassettes for $300.00,” he tells us.

Sought after collectibles - are they a good investment?

Military memorabilia, swords, coins and high-end art glass are in high demand at Port Pickers. Generally, Darius says collectibles aren’t a good investment to the novice collector, unless they are advised by an expert.

Moving forward, Darius believes items that are in mint condition, items with paperwork and in their original box will be a good investment for the future.

Over the years where antiques have started to soften, its counterpart that has no packaging and that is well used, is going down in value compared to what it was years ago.

“I find the hard-core collector wants everything in mint condition, unpainted, unrestored," he explains. "If you want a collectible that is a good investment, put your money into something that is popular or trending and find a specimen that is in the best condition with original packaging, or an antique or two that are in really good condition. Our antiques and collectibles that are in average to poor condition are dropping in value, the counterpart is increasing in value. “

In the antiques world, there seems to be so much to learn. Some advice for the new generation of collectors.

Unless you are collecting what you are passionate about, do your research on what you buy and invest in. Look at trends. The problem is past history prices are hard to find to research trends if you haven't been watching the market. Darius told us, “I would recommend connecting with knowledgeable people to find more information. Buy from experienced collectors, even if you pay a little bit more for the item, the knowledge you get from these people is priceless. Collectors are going to have the mint items also.“

Darius is an investor. An investor in antiques and collectibles. He looks for items that he thinks belong in a museum. Another tip he gave us is to google items. "You will notice the rare items won't have a lot of information available. Research forums, reviews, these are a good source of knowledge. Don’t get caught up in product sales pitches. Moorcroft - it plummeted to almost nothing and it is hot again. Watch the trends, buy when items are priced low."

Advice and appraisals

Port Pickers offer advice and appraisals free on any items that are brought into their store. Darius does prefer people to make a booking with him to enable him to allocate the time to spend in the consult. If it is a special piece, he is more than happy to be available even after hours,

Collectible Spotlight - Indigenous Artefacts

Currently Port Pickers have two indigenous artefacts, Wunda Shields, that they are preparing to deliver to a high end Brisbane gallery. The history however is incomplete, but will be restored by a recognised indigenous artist.

"We personally deliver high end items anywhere in the country to ensure the item arrives safe and sound, and as described. In most circumstances where the value of the item is considerably high, the client prefers it to be personally delivered."

Kim Ackerman, a leading Australian anthropologist, explains that shields are found within the West Australian region bounded by the Gascoyne and Murchison rivers.

“Wunda shields appear to have been traded into other areas, some moving as far as Ooldea in the south of Australia and have also been recorded in the south and east of the Kimberley," she says. "There are references to the Walmajarri and Nyikina peoples describing that the zigzags represent different river systems with the angles representing major changes in direction that these rivers take.

"Single or paired zigzags are said to represent creeks or rivers, or the lightning that precedes the rainy season. Multiple zigzags have been variously interpreted as marks left in the sand by tides and flood waters, and the ripples created by the wind on the surface of the sea and large bodies of freshwater."


Port Pickers

34 Uralla Road, Port Macquarie, NSW

Ph. 0401 555 500

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