When collecting there are some important things that you always need to remember no matter if you are a first time collector or a well seasoned collector. I will cover these things in this article.
Common Mistakes a First Time Collector Makes
1: Your Not Prepared – Being prepared is one of the most important things you need to do as a collector. The following is a quick list of ways to prepare before you start collecting.
- Do some research on the items you are going to collect. Doing some homework on the field you want to collect in will save you time, money and making costly mistakes.
- Know the market for the items you want to collect. Item values and popularity change regularly and this can effect your collection. This may change the direction for your collecting.
- Learn how to tell a reproduction/fake item from a real one. There are usually telltale signs an item is a reproduction/fake. Learn the common signs to save yourself from making a mistake and overpaying for a reproduction.
- Study any important information such as trademarking or dating marks. You many want to invest into a book on this for your collection if it requires it.
- Get a good current price guide. Note most price guides are only updated every few years not yearly.
The more you know about the items you are collecting, the better you will be at it. This will also keep you from making rookie mistakes that can be costly.
2: Not Getting a Second Opinion or Appraisal – Skipping a second opinion when you are not sure of an items value, legitimacy, or condition is another mistake many new collectors make. This step is commonly skipped as it usually costs additional money, however skipping this may cost you far more in the end.
The easiest way to get a second opinion is to take good photos of the item. Make sure to include the following it it applies.
- Any markings, names or trademarking on the item
- Any condition issue, damage, or repairs
- Detailed pictures of areas that might help date the item. For example dovetailing on pieces of furniture
- 360 view of the item if possible or as much of it as you can, you can even just take a short video also
All these pictures will help a trained appraiser or expert give you the best and most accurate information.
3. Buying Items That Are a Money Pit – Good deals can seem great at first but can also end up being money pits. A common mistake first time collectors make is taking on a project that can consume value resources such as time and money.
Have a close look at the item and see what needs to be done to it. Things like missing hardware can be hard and costly to replace. You might need to have an item professionally cleaned such as cloth. Woods may need to be refinished or inlay replaced. All this can add up quickly in cost and time.
4. Expecting Perfect Condition – Many first time collectors expect mint or perfect condition. This is a rare find in the antique and collectible world. Remember antiques have to be around for 100 years to be called an antique. Any item after 100 years is going to show some form of wear and tear. Condition is important but you have to take it with a grain of salt. If there is damage that effects the value of the item you are looking to purchase you need to consider this when you make your purchase.
Just make sure you do not mistake damage for wear and tear. You can do this by looking for signs of use that are consistent with how the piece is used.
One thing to remember is patina and small nicks are expected and part of a piece’s history.
5. Not Having A Place to Display the Antique or Collectible – Buying more than you can display or store can change cause issues with your collectibles. Storing items incorrectly can cause damage to your items or destroy them. Storage should always be climate, and moisture controlled. You can also have extra costs such as storage units and proper storage containers.
Make sure you purchase items you have room to display or store properly. Do not fall into the trap of collectoritis and expand your collection faster than you can keep up with.
6. Haggling Incorrectly – Haggling is an art form and may not be suitable in every buying situation. There is an unspoken etiquette to haggling, when haggling is applied properly you can get some great prices.
Here are some haggling tips and tricks
Best places to haggle to get the best value:
- Garage Sales
- Estate Sales
- Flea Markets
- Thrift Store
- Want Ads
Places to use caution:
- Dealer Ran Store
- High-end Antique Store
- Boutique Antique Stores
- Other Collectors
Places Not to Haggle:
Auction Houses – In most cases you cant haggle at an auction house. The closest you can get to this is to purchase an item after auction if it did not sell. They will sometimes sell you an item at the last highest bid if the reserve was close to being met and the seller agrees to the price. They can also choose to sell the item at the reserve price if there is one and it was not met.
How to Start the Haggling Process
A good line to use to start your the haggling process is: Ask whether the seller can do a better price on item.
Remember it is up to the seller if they want to discount the price. Always be prepared that they many not be willing to come down on the price. This can be for many different reasons such as the amount of money they have invested in the item, or they have higher overheads than a different seller.
7. Disrespecting the Seller – Doing things that might upset or disrespect the seller.
Here are somethings to watch out for:
- Extreme Low Balling – It can be insulting to an owner who’s worked hard to present antiques that are above a junk shop’s stock
- Never back out of a sale after you’ve been offered a good price and you agree on it
- Don’t ask the store owner to hold an item for you if you have not purchased it. Even if you promise to come right back. The owners may worry you won’t come back and that they’ll lose the sale if another customer wants to buy it.
- Don’t overshare your plans for the item – If you brag about your plan to modify the item and then try to negotiate a price, the owner may be horrified and less likely to work with you on the price.
Remember no matter how long you have collected for there are some rules and guidelines you should always follow. These tips will help you save time, money and not get sucked into money pit’s. If you have any questions or doubt about an item get a second opinion.