Saffer Than Keeping Money in the Bank&
If you're careful
As the purchasing power of mainstream Mexican society continues to dwindle in the wake of lower international fuel prices, high interest rates and a continually weakening national currency, more and more everyday folks are searching for a safe place to entrust their hard earned capital.
Mexico's national currency has the unfortunate, though deserved, reputation of instability. A major monetary devaluation is pretty much expected in this nation once every six years, immediately following presidential elections. Soaring interest rates, currently hovering around 30% (no, I did not forget a decimal point) make investment in real estate prohibitive unless one is purchasing in cash. Likewise, savings are unadvisable as the currency is continually loosing value. Outdated coins are sold by the kilo for scrap metal prices and paper money is nearly equally as worthless-- money that was in circulation less than ten years ago. A jug of drinking water, which cost $3.50 only five years ago, now sells for $10 to $15 pesos. Obviously, this is not an incentive to keep money in the bank for any length of time.
Among the few sound investment items available to middle class citizens are antiques, fine art and quality handcrafted pieces. While most nurses, salesmen, professors, small-business owners and shop clerks cannot afford to plunk down $100,000 dollars cash on a piece of property, they can validate an expense ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for an item which will be enjoyed for years and which will maintain a value at least in keeping with inflationary trends.
For this reason, the purchase of antiques and quality art should be considered as an investment and not a statement in fashion. Just as one would look into the past performance of a company before investing in their stocks, careful consideration should equally be given to those items found on gallery walls and in antiques showrooms. The key to insuring that one is making a sound investment is to research.
Unfortunately, in this line of business not all venders are as scrupulous as one would hope. Antiquarians have been known to inflate prices on the spot based solely on the potential customer's appearance. Some gallery owners knowingly sell fakes as original masterpieces, and there are even a few artisans who claim they are using the highest quality materials when it just isn't so. Fortunately, not all business is conducted in such a shady fashion-- but one does need to be aware that there are a few bad apples in the basket.
Careful examination of the craftsmanship, with both new and old pieces, is an important practice to develop. A well-made piece will maintain its value for years. Another way to determine whether an item is a sound investment is to study old and recent auction records. What sort of performance have similar type items shown over the years? Sale records are available in most public libraries, or can be purchased from many of the larger auction houses. Documented background information will usually increase the value of an item. Questions like, "Was it created by a known' artist," "Who was the previous owner," and "Where and when was it made" are important qualifiers. If the seller is unable to provide satisfactory answers to your questions, more often than not it is advisable to look elsewhere before completing ones purchase.
As consumers, we have the responsibility to keep store owners honest by asking as many questions as possible about an item we are considering investing our hard earned money in. As dealers, we have the obligation to help inform our clients about their purchase to the best of our abilities.