How to Collect Kaleidoscopes
In this guide we will address the basics of collecting kaleidoscopes, defining your collections purpose, different types of kaleidoscope collections, note some of our current favorite artists and provide links to other helpful kaleidoscope guides.
As with any collection, the core guideline is to ONLY buy what you LOVE and what gives you pleasure. That being said, you may want to be aware of what your purpose is. Naturally your purpose may evolve as your collection grows.
Ask yourself the following questions: Is it your goal to build a collection that may potentially have some investment value? Is it for display purposes in your home or office? Is it for therapeutic uses such as stress reduction or color therapy? Is it to supplement another collection - vintage toy collectors may be interested in vintage and antique toy kaleidoscopes? Is it just for the sheer enjoyment and wonder of playing with the kaleidoscpes? There is no concrete answer which is best, it comes down to what's best for you.
Its often best to start with some variety, for example a beginning collection might include one each of teh following: a 2 mirror kaleidoscope, 3 mirror kaleidoscope, a teleidoscope, and a wand scope, a wheel kaleidoscope and a marble kaleidoscope. For clarification of terms please see my guide Kaleidoscope Terminology.
Usually, you'll want to have an assortment of mediums that the kaleidoscopes are made of unless you know in advance that you want to collect only wood or stained glass, etc. Personally, I relish variety and enjoy a vast assortment of kaleidoscopes. However, if you are passionate about woods or another medium - you can certainly build an impressive and enjoyable collection in that medium alone.
If your purpose is for stress reduction, almost any kaleidoscope will achieve this purpose. However, there are kaleidoscopes made with the intention of providing color therapy or chromatherapy. If you were to choose a blue color therapy kaleidoscope, the calming affects would be intensified. The science behind color therapy has shown that different emotional states can be induced or cultivated by the use of different colors. For further information please see my guide on color therapy.
After you get your feet wet and get familiar with the basics, you'll start to notice that there can be a difference in the quality and craftsmanship of kaleidoscopes. There are lovely pieces you can get at moderate prices and there are pieces made by well established and recognized artists whose prices are commensurate with their abilities, innovations and reputations. Also the materials used to create the scopes will affect the price.
Some of my current favorite artists and craftspeople include David Collier, Ritama Haaga, Caroline Bennet, and Big Muddy Woodworks to name a few. To learn more about specific artists you may want to consult one of Cozy Baker's books which shows the work of many contemporary artists. Her books include Kaleidoscope Artistry and Kaleidoscopes Wonder of Wonders. Both have beautiful photography and helpful descriptions and kaleidoscope information.
Generally, you can categorize kaleidoscope into the following categories: Works of art by skilled crafts people, manufactured kaleidoscopes which are mass produced - often in Taiwan, and hand crafted by home hobbyists that may use kits or by new artists honing their skills. Any of these kaleidoscopes will have their merits and drawbacks.
Purchasing manufactured kaleidoscopes may not necessarily provide you with the quality or uniqueness of many artists' kaleidoscopes, and usually the quality will not be as high as those of an established artist. However, they will be more affordable and if you make a purchasing mistake, its not going to break the bank. Many of these will provide beautiful images and hours of enjoyment at a fraction of the price of artists' collectibles. Also under this category are the cardboard toy vintage kaleidoscopes. Much of the value of these is in the beauty of the artwork and the nostalgia of days gone by. Most of these are made from cardboard and bits of plastic and the images will likely be dimmed from dust in the interior or the plastic bits fading.
Buying from a lesser known artist will probably allow you a more unique selection than manufactured kaleidoscopes unless its from a home hobbyist using a kit. Quality will vary from artist to artist, however they will be more affordable for the price conscious.
Finally, for those ready to invest in artists' collectibles, there is an astonishing variety of styles & materials to choose from. Here you will want to do your research and use more care in your selections since each kaleidoscope may be an investment. Often these kaleidoscopes will hold, if not appreciate in value when properly care for. Please see my guide Care of Kaleidoscopes and Preserving their Value. Always remember that kaleidoscopes are not necessarily a liquid investment. There may be ups and downs in the demand and finding a buyer may take some time for these.
The more rare the kaleidoscope, the greater the potential value is. Some kaleidoscopes are made in limited editions and marked as such. If its a new kaleidoscope that is innovative, it will also more likely become a collectible. Many artists sign or initial their kaleidoscopes which will increase their value by assuring who made them. Some even come with certificates from the artist.
Now that you've learned some basics about kaleidoscope collecting, what's holding you back? Enjoy the fun and visit Kaleido Wonders for a great assortment of kaleidoscopes from toy to collectibles.
To learn more about kaleidoscopes see my other guides.
PLEASE vote yes below if you found this guide helpful. Thank you!