How To Start Collecting Antiques
Most of us start collecting antiques because we have been given something ‘old’ by a relative, or by a family friend. Or we may just see a fascinating piece that we just have to buy. Others find an antique discarded in a skip … and so the interest begins. Today’s collectors buy one piece at a time and often re-sell at a later date at auction, in order to buy something more expensive.
What you'll need:
An appropriate Miller’s Antiques Guide
We must also begin by realising that we don’t have to have a complete home make-over before our collecting begins. An antique bronze, Clarice Cliff vase, or selection of Georgian snuff-boxes can look just as impressive against a contemporary décor
Before buying anything, it is necessary to decide on a ‘purchase plan’ and make sure that whatever you want to collect is within your price range. And that it is an investment rather than an indulgence.
For example - at the moment 20th century is very much in vogue and Victorian isn’t, which means if you happen to like Victoriana then you could pick up a bargain that will increase in value somewhere along the road, if not in the immediate future.
Fifties, Sixties and Seventies is now also very collectable and often appeals to the younger collector who may not be able to afford Art Deco.
Decide on how you are going to display your collection to avoid clutter that collects dust and can be easily broken. China looks good on a cream-painted dresser, while glass sparkles behind glass and under lights; curios can be grouped in special picture-frame display boxes to enhance their interest.
Keep your eye open for a limited number of ‘star pieces’ that will provide focal points in your home. They don’t have to cost a fortune but they must be items that you love, and which will appreciate in value.
Bearing these tips in mind, do your homework and read books on your chosen subject. Pay a visit to the antiques fairs, auctions, and the various ‘antiques emporiums’ dotted around the country. But don’t be too eager to buy just yet – get a feel for the prices different dealers are asking.
Judith Miller (of antiques guide fame) warns that some dealers don’t put a price tag on their wares, they use a numbered code instead. When asked the price they consult the code book to see what they paid for it (which the buyer can’t see) and then give a price depending on how affluent or keen you appear to be.
When visiting an antiques fair or flea market, turn left once you’ve passed through the entrance. Most people will turn instinctively to the right, which mean you can get to the bargains before the throng.
If you’ve been unsuccessful in beating a dealer down early in the day, go back at the end of the fair, as they may be more inclined to take your offer rather than pack the piece up and take it home.
By rule of thumb, any antiques we buy should not lose value the moment we take them home, but should steadily increase in value.
If you are trying to match antiques, such as chairs, glasses, china, etc., always take a photograph of the pieces already in your possession.
Go for quality and avoid damaged goods.
Avoid Chinese antiques at the moment as prices are going through the roof.
Don’t fall for the dealer’s hype – there are just as many dodgy dealers as there are good ones.
Events organised by BADA and LAPADA guarantee that the antiques on sale are what their sales ticket says they are. If they’re not, you’ve got comeback.