“It’s always a treat to find something really special,” says Bert Rosengarten of Bert Rosengarten Antiques.
He started treasure hunting as a teenager after joining his father’s antique business in the 1960s. Now, with nearly six decades in the field, Rosengarten says he has seen every phase of the business and has been around the world doing it, from New England to Europe and Asia.
Rosengarten has worked in several phases of the antique business, including as an auctioneer, shop owner and dealer, but today his work primarily involves evaluating and purchasing unwanted items from New England homes. Most people have items that they no longer know what to do with, Rosengarten says. Drawing from his years of experience, Rosengarten explains to customers which things are worth keeping and which are not. “Based on current trends, for example, most Victorian dining and bedroom furniture is likely going to be less desirable in the future,” he says.
Tastes have changed over the generations, Rosengarten explains, and people tend to live and entertain more informally. “Heavy, dark wood furniture, fine china, crystal, sterling silver and silver plates are no longer desirable to the younger generation,” he says. “Today’s consumers prefer furniture and accessories that are minimalist, lightweight and easily maintained.” Rosengarten also notes that there used to be an expectation of rising values for antiques, “but that is no longer a sure thing for all categories.”
During visits to prospective clients’ homes, Rosengarten is happy to evaluate one item or hundreds, and the client has no obligation to sell. He thoroughly explains value estimates to his clients and advises on whether to invest in repairing items that clients choose to keep.
In addition to the knowledge gained through his family’s business, Rosengarten was a history major in college, where he “learned about the social relevance of art and furnishings across different periods.”
“The hunt — finding things that are rare and precious — is the fun part of the job for me,” Rosengarten explains. “Antiques are my passion, and I really like the feel and knowledge that comes with handling old, unique objects.”
The people he meets are the best part of the business, Rosengarten says, and that has included everyone from direct descendants of Mayflower passengers to families who recently emigrated from places like Lebanon and Syria. “Every piece tells a story, and every person who owns a piece has a story to tell, and that makes my work very interesting,” he says.
Antiquing is one of the oldest businesses in the world, Rosengarten says. “Since men have been in caves, they’ve been bartering and ending up with something they don’t know what to do with, whether a pile of skulls or Mickey Mouse memorabilia,” he says with a laugh. “Today, it is my job to help people downsize or just declutter.”
For more information or to set up an appointment, call Rosengarten directly at 617-733-8863.
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