My Guide to Buying Antiques

Antiques are beautiful things. It's amazing how they can have a dramatic impact when placed in a contemporary setting. They change the dynamics of a room in a unique way and become talking points for friends to admire.

In terms of investment, almost all antiques appreciate in value. As always, it's about the quality, condition and rarity that make these objects such a good investment.

Of course there are many things to consider when looking for antiques, including: Are they genuine? Will they fit in your home? Are you paying the right price? These questions shouldn't detract from what should be an exhilarating experience. Nothing beats the thrill of finding the perfect piece to complete a room.

What is an antique?

Definitions of 'antique' differ, However, the 100 year rule is usually the safest point to start, especially if you're new to the game. The word 'antique' is most commonly used to describe something old. However, exactly how old an object is dictates whether it can correctly be called an antique. To be considered antique, the majority of dealers will require that the object is over 100 years old.

What makes antiques valuable?

There are a number of factors to consider when assessing the value of an antique, these include: Age, Rarity, Quality, Historical Significance and Current Taste.

As a rule of thumb 'quality sells' and 'rarity enhances'. So the better the condition and the more sought after the piece, the higher the price.

Do your research before you buy!

When buying antiques, you need to have a good understanding of the different periods. So make sure you take some time to sit down with an informative book or your computer and do some research before you buy. Look at lots of photographs of objects from different periods. Keep up to date with news, visit antique fairs, research websites, talk to people, be educated. If you're new to the antiques world, a little research goes a long way and by simply browsing the Internet and antique websites you will begin to see what you like and how it might enhance your home.

My Top Tips

Visit art and antiques fairs, museums and national galleries and work out what you like. The variety of pieces on offer is extraordinary. Build relationships with antique dealers. Once they know you, and you know them, they will be willing to find things for you based upon your taste and budget. Start simple. Good entry-level antique pieces for beginners are often the most simple pieces, such as a plate or bowl, a porcelain figure, a print or a side table. When building a collection, buy the best examples you can afford. Three good things are better than 10 that are under par. Buy from a reputable souce, like a dealer or an accredited auction house. This means that an item will have been properly authenticated by it's style and marks. Buyer beware! Be wary of bargains online. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is!

Always the best advice to give to anyone who's starting out in antiques is to go for what you love. As much as an interesting backstory and period features are all part of the fun, what really matters is how it makes you feel.

So you've fallen in love with a piece, but before you buy, here are some things to consider: Is it in satifactory condition? Remember, this can be relative in respect of the item's age and rarity. It's highly unlikely that an antique will be as good as new, that's their charm. Are there significant aesthetic faults like chips, cracks, stains or fading? Poor condition affects value. Avoid cracks and obvious restoration in glass and china. Is it genuine?

Where to Place Antiques

Identify gaps in your rooms that could take items of furniture and know what size you can accommodate without crowding-in the room. Generate well-lit spaces for eye-catching pieces by adding table lamps (either antique or new) to provide mid-level lighting. Be aware of scale: small paintings for example that worked in your first flat may look too small in a larger family home, so hang them in tight groups to give them more impact. And it's all about inpact. Place that clock, vase or figure where it get's noticed. Ta-da!

Antiques are unique and once they're gone, they're gone. If you've found something you love and you think it's fine, or you're happy to restore it, then buy it!

And finally...

Fakes & Reproductions

The last thing you want as a novice is to be fooled with a fake. Unfortunately, there are as many fakes and reproductions on the market as genuine pieces, particularly in areas such as furniture and ceramics, although some reproductions are valuable antiques themselves. The best way to spot fakes is to handle as many genuine antiques as possible. There really is no substitute for experience. If you're concerned an item might be fake, walk away.

So remember, do lots of research and always buy what you like, not just for investment.

Please don't hesitate to contact me about anything covered in this guide. I will be pleased to be of assistance.


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