Acquiring Antiques – A Quick Guide For Beginners

Acquiring Antiques - A Quick Guide For Beginners

In some cases, the acquisition, collection, and restoration of antiques is a common hobby across many of the population. Whether the collector in question is a seasoned dealer or a novice antiquarian, the acquisition of antiques can be a gratifying and fulfilling hobby. Every hidden gem in an attic or coveted treasure found at a car boot sale has a story to tell, and one of the best parts about being an antiquarian is uncovering that story. 

Plus, with no two artefacts, the same collectors can easily find something that appeals to their tastes, be it collectable children’s toys, books, or French antique mirrors. Starting a new hobby can be daunting for any beginner, but it can be even more so when it involves priceless artefacts worth significant monetary value.

Whether you aspire to build a collection, gain a profit by reselling antiques, or would like to restore them, getting experience and knowledge in the field can be tricky when all involved are vying for the same bargains. Regardless of whether you’ve always wanted a hobby in antiques, have an interest in antique TV shows or are simply looking to start purchasing your first antique items, we’ve created this quick guide aimed at beginners to help kick-start their passion. 

Know The Difference Between Vintage And Antique 

As popular as antiques, vintage is another common term that budding antiquarians may have heard when researching the field. But although the two terms may be used for describing artefacts of a significant age, they do not refer to the same items. Typically, an object must be around one hundred years old to be considered an antique, whereas, for an item to be called vintage, it could be anywhere between forty to fifty years old. Sometimes vintage items can often be mistakenly labelled as antique and vice versa, leading to confusion amongst newcomers to the hobby. 

Learn The Basics Of Assessing Antiques 

No matter whether you’re a seasoned dealer or a novice antiquarian, you’ll need to have a sound understanding of antiques so that you can determine items worth, rarity, age and, more importantly, whether it’s a fake.  Over time you will be able to recognise tell-tale signs to know what to look out for in an item plus what to avoid, and you’ll grow more confident with identifying a bargain or talking to experts in the field. 

Often, the best way to learn about something new is by experiencing it in person at fairs, auctions, and shops. Still, if you’re wary about attending one of these so soon, an excellent place to start learning about antiques is by reading books, watching TV shows, and listening to the radio or podcasts. 

Discover Where You Can Purchase Antiques 

Before you can go out and make your first antique purchase, you’ll need to find out where you can source bargains in your local area. Location permitting, there are many ways that antiquarians can sell, trade and purchase antiquities from flea markets to charity shops – you must know where to find them. Some of the following options are the most popular locations for antiquarians to source artefacts; 

  • Car Boot Sales – Although a little jumbled, car boot sales can be one of the most accessible places to find coveted treasures. You may find that this method of antique hunting involves a little more searching than others as you’ll have to hunt for valuable pieces throughout general bric-a-brac and have people trying to sell you anything they perceive as a family heirloom. Often, you can find a few valuable articles up for grabs, but it can be more complicated in this environment, so it’s best to make sure that you get there early. 
  • On The Internet – Searching for antiques on the internet is also very common, as you’re not limited to a location or what a person could bring on the day. You can search for any item, be it antique clocks to French antique mirrors, from anywhere across the country. The only downside is that you cannot view the article in person before you buy it, so make sure that you’re certain about its authenticity before purchasing. Generally, reputable online stores such as Antiques Boutique will have various images to look through before making your purchase and answer any questions you may have. Consider looking at their website for listings from multiple sellers and more information today. 
  • Auction Houses – Another popular place to source antiques are from auction houses which you can visit in person or online from the comfort of your living room. Generally, auction houses source any of their antiques from house clearances, so attending one is an excellent way of getting a hold of some unique, valuable pieces of history. 

Be Prepared To Negotiate 

Everyone in the world of antiques is no stranger to haggling, as everyone is vying for the same items but not for the same price. For those just starting in the antique hobby, the idea of negotiating a price with dealers may be unnerving, but so long as you’re friendly and stand your ground, then you can’t go wrong. Some of the best ways to negotiate a price with a seller are by smiling, asking questions about the artefact or its story and then asking the seller for their best price for cheque and cash buys. 

You could also see if they’d lower their asking cost if you purchased more than one item, or you could also try offering less than you are willing to pay, as this will give you more negotiating power over the price. Plus, don’t get too disheartened if the seller won’t budge on their asking price; if the item you want is still available at the end of the event, you could always approach the seller again – this time around, they may be more willing to sell. 

Like any market, the world of antiques has emerging trends; just like any trend, desirable items dip in and out of popularity, with another item not far behind ready to take its place. So, keep in mind as you browse a set of French antique mirrors online stores, fairs, auctions, and car boot sales that the reason it may be so expensive now is due to these trends but wait a few years, and it could be more reasonable.


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