John Chaski loves antiques. His passion for the historic and unusual can be captured in the simplistic splendor of a silver mug he owns.
Crafted by John Stow of Wilmington, Del., in 1770, the "cann," as these pieces are called, is a great example of design and, by all rights, looks as though it should have been made in London.
"This one object is great aesthetically, its condition is fantastic and it has a great historical association," says Chaski. "Stow was an American craftsman who took up arms in our Revolutionary War."
His love of antiques preceded his arrival at F&M. By the time he enrolled, he was an established entrepreneur building on his childhood fascination with antiques and an emerging passion for 18th- and 19th-century Americana. Inspired and mentored by his father, Chaski became an independent antiques dealer at age 16.
Chaski enhanced his business acumen as a Business, Organizations & Society major while taking as many art history classes as his schedule would allow. "The opportunities in this business are limitless," says Chaski, who runs John Chaski Antiques (www.johnchaski.com) in Camden, Del. "Buying and selling antiques offers and requires constant learning, and I am motivated every day to go out and find something great."
That discovery of "something great," and then finding the right person for it, is what makes Chaski tick. His commitment to buying only the best examples of period furniture, paintings or decorative arts occasionally causes his accountant to remind him that his inventory is exceeding his savings.
Chaski proudly shares that eight of the 10 most expensive things he has ever purchased are still owned by him—by choice. Even his home, the Jonothan Jenkins House (circa 1812), has an interesting history. Owned by Quaker abolitionists, the brick, federal-style home may have been part of the Underground Railroad and today is the location of his antiques shop.
But it is pursuing his passion, not money, that drives Chaski. "If you do not lose money on some of the things you buy, you are not buying enough," he says. "If you are not putting your own money into it, you are not learning enough."
While a student at F&M, Chaski was always advised to get into a business he loves, regardless of what it was. Fortunately for Chaski, that was easy advice to follow.
"If you do not lose money on some of the things you buy, you are not buying enough. If you are not putting your own money into it, you are not learning enough."