When buying antiques you want to be confident and knowledgeable. In this article i have covered 10 things you can do to help protect yourself and to find a few good bargains at the same time when buying Antiques or Collectibles.
1. Always Negotiate the price
Many dealers will have a code marked somewhere on the antique that you are interested in. This marking tells them exactly how low they can go on the price. For example X20 or X45 could mean the amount they will discount the price. or this maybe their bottom price. Use your own judgment and always ask. You should not use this tip in an auction house setting it will not work so well. This should be used when buying from private seller, shop, or market setting.
2. Always, ask about the condition of the antique
Ask about any damage and/or restoration that may have been done. If you don’t ask, they don’t need to tell you. Even if the antique appears to be in mint condition you need to ask about the condition of the item. There may have been repairs made that are not visible. Once you have bought an item it is yours. Many antique retailers and auction houses have a no return policy.
3. Handle the item â€” Touch it, feel it, and smell it
Pick it up, put it down, pick it up again. Look at the bottom, the top, the sides. Look from odd angles and use a magnifier to look close. I would advice carrying a loop with you when buying antiques.
Handling an antique can tell you a lot about the item. You should ask yourself a few questions while doing this.
- Is the antique of the right weight?
- Does the piece appear too large or too small for the period ? Proportions, dimensions, size?
- Correct style, did it exist during the period?
- Color and smell of the wood? (Old wood smells old)
- Are there any maker marks on the item are these the right marks?
- Is there anything that seems out of place or like it does not belong?
- Does the antique seem too good to be true?
- Is it too new?
- Are there ware marks where there should or should not be?
Never be afraid to pick up antiques in a shop, at an auction, or at any other sales event.
4. Do not represent yourself as a Trade buyer (unless you are)
You may lose your consumer protection rights.
5. Do not offer to pay cash
Offer to pay cash after you’ve agreed on a price for paying by check or credit card.
Once you’ve settled on a price, get your check book or credit card out, then pause and ask if there’s is a discount for paying buy cash. Many antique dealers will offer a discount if you pay by cash. You should wait till just before paying to ask for this discount. If you ask before this time they will factor it into your discount before they have made other adjustments to the price.
6. Always remember to get your receipt
Especially if you paid by cash, make sure your receipt has the following information on it:
- Age of the items you purchased
- The material it was made of
- Any damage or restoration the antique may have had.
- The value of the items.
- The antique store/seller’s name, phone number, and address.
7. Look for the odd one out
The odd antiques are usually the best bargains.
Look for items that don’t belong there, for example ceramics in a jewelers shop; or bronze in a silver dealers display. It’s more likely that the antique dealer or seller will discount these items to get them sold.
8. Buy from your local auction house
There are great bargains here with the potential to make a profit.
Most auction houses have online catalogs allowing you to do your research before arriving at the auction house. Always go to the auction previews prior to the sell. This way you can fully research the items and handle them.
Increase your knowledge about auction procedures and become an auction bargain hunter. After you have mastered buying at auctions you can then expand your auction buying to auctions and antique markets abroad. Before taking on the big international auction houses, you want to be well educated in the rules of buying at auctions. For information on how to bid at an auction read my article Going Once, Going Twice, Sold: The Ins and Outs of First Time Bidding. Remember when buying international their are add cost (i.e taxes, custom, broker, handling, and paperwork fees) and requirements. You will have to make sure to follow proper customs procurers and any laws that may apply. You should research the area in which you plan on buying before making any purchases. Make sure to follow tip number six when getting a receipt.
9. BEWARE of reproductions, fakes and forgeries
The antique market has been flooded with reproductions, fakes, and forgeries. Some of these reproductions are remarkably done and have even fooled some of the top specialist out there. Antiques that were popular were reproduced, faked, and forged almost immediately after they hit the markets. Even if something is an antique it does not mean it is an original antique.
10. Do your research
The most important piece of advise I can offer is to do your research and call in a professional if you have any doubts. A little money spent before you make an expensive purchase can save you a lot more at the end. There are many appraisers, brokers, and experts out there in every field of antiques. Find one that specializes in the items you are buying (i.e I specialize in Mechanical musical instruments with my concentration in phonographs and music boxes I have a secondary specialization in clocks). Most appraisers do general antique appraisals and have a network of specialist they call in when needed.