Here's a great example of a guy who turned his hobby into a business, and how not having enough money forced a creative decision that made the business take off.
In 1958, Pierre Koller was a Swiss 34-year-old that had grown up in Lausanne and Zurich. Fond of collecting horse carvings and old furniture, he opened an antique shop in Zurich to sell some of it off.
The following year a German clock collector offered to sell his timepiece collection to Koller—for 100,000 Swiss Francs. That was way more money than Koller had but, seeing an opportunity, he convinced the collector to agree to a consignment arrangement where Koller would auction the clocks off.
The auction is a success, and Koller Auctions is born. Today the company has offices in Zurich, Geneva, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New York and Beijing. I've been combing through their archives and found some pretty cool stuff:
A richly decorated combination tool, Nuremberg, circa 1580. Iron with fine etched decoration in the form of flowers and foliage. The tool can be used as pliers, hammer, nail-puller or mini-anvil. L 21.5 cm.
A rare turning lathe with a numerous tools in 2 large and 3 small boxes, by the company Holzappfel, London, 1824. Mahogany, cast iron, brass and steel. Pedal driven.
Rare model, the workbench with cylinder closure. Various tools, blades and spare parts necessary for the turning work. With instruction in 5 volumes, TURNING AND MECHANICAL MANIPULATION, by Charles Holtzappfel.
In 1790, the Holzappfel family moved from Alsace to London, where - until 1810, in cooperation with the German Deverlein, and until 1930 alone - produced high-quality lathe sets for artistic woodworking. According to tradition, the lathe with No. 620 was sold to Percival H. Wormald in Gomersal, Yorkshire. It is one of only 3 workbenches with cylinder closure.
13 fine opium pipes in various materials. China, 19th and 20th century, length max. 63.5 cm. Wood stand. Few damages and repairs.
The pipes consist of bamboo, bone, porcelain, cloisonné, varnish, brass, jade-green stone and amber imitating kustharz. The saddles are made of silver or bronze, driven into vegetal shapes, engraved or inscribed with inscriptions. The pipe fittings are usually made of ceramic, also from porcelain, sometimes in animal form, sometimes with Ritzdekor or in geometrical forms. Perforated wooden stand with brown and gold lacquer.
Chest of drawers for a store, "Noa" model, La Chapelle, Kriens Lucerne, beginning of the 20th century. Beech, cylindrical, turnable two-part body on spherical feet. Upper part and lower part, each with 160 drawers. Different brass knobs. H 186 cm, D 85 cm. Restored.
An elegant trepanning set, France, possibly 19th c. Shaped and engraved, partly gilt steel. Consisting of a trepan with screw-handle showing Chronos, 7 drill bits, 3 elevators, 5 scrapers, etc. some instruments inscribed IOANNES GANTE. In walnut case with brass mounts lined with red suede (lid warped and cracked). 34.5x20.5x5.2 cm.
If you've got time to kill, you can dig through their stuff here.