Crusaders from Berliner Zinnfiguren, Germany.
Buying flat figures can be an adventure by itself. Traditionally, these figures were flourishing in Germany , so the easiest place to find them is there. There are quite a lot of shops dealing with flat figures, most of them having internet services to facilitate the acquisition of these small jewels. Fewer shops are located in England, France, USA, and to my knowledge, that’s about it.
Before dealing with internet services, I would like to emphasize a special place where someone can purchase flat figures but unfortunately this can only happen for a three day period every two years! Kulmbach! The Mecca of the flat figure business. A three day show-bazaar that takes places in August every two years. The lucky ones that will manage to visit the event will have the chance to admire thousands of flat figures, painted and unpainted, singles, sets, vignettes, dioramas and to meet and chat with the artists, the editors and dealers. Most of them are really friendly people, ready to help with their stock, their historic knowledge, or their artistic expertise. Besides figures, someone can find everything that is related to them, from old and rare books, showcase cabinets, frames and bases to present them, paints, brushes and any kind of artistic material. All in all, a real must for every serious artist and collector who has an affection for flat figures.
Coming back to internet trade, in my opinion this is the easiest, quite safe lately, and fastest way to collect flat figures. Most of the editors and dealers have online services so there are quite a few possibilities. Also, through e-bay, an online auction procedure, we can bid and win/get some really rare flat figures.
How an online transaction is done? Easy. Most of the editors and dealers have online catalogues displayed in their sites, in PDF electronic format for downloading or they can send them for some very small fee by mail. After selecting the figures we want to purchase, we can pay with various credit cards, deposit money in bank accounts or using an online transaction service called paypal. Nowadays, online money transaction is quite secure and personally haven’t heard any friend or foe had any problem.
Now, the only thing that is left is to eagerly wait for the arrival of the precious order. A bitter-sweet suspense. One very important thing someone must have in mind is to either check the quality of the casting when he/she is at the shop or check it immediately after opening the order that just came with the post. If the figure is not good enough, or has many flaws from the casting process, then do yourself a favor and don’t buy the particular figure or if it came with mail simply contact the editor. Most of the times, they will replace it with a new, much better one or compensate in some way. Besides, it’s much cheaper and easier to buy a new one than to attempt to correct the existing one. Some people like to correct these problems or even to convert the original figure into something else but besides pay my admiration to them I wouldn’t recommend such an adventure. At least for the first few years . More specific, figures must be of a “shiny” appearance with no visible corrosion from oxidation, well engraved, with maybe a small amount of flash around the edges.
In the appendix 1, you can find many internet links to various editors and dealers, with a vast selection of flat figures along with some very interesting links for collector’s homepages, Society’s made by flat figure enthusiasts and forums dedicated to discussions about various aspects of the art of flat figures.
Mohr's set depicting the Funeral of the Swedish King Gustavous Adolfus.