Top Tips for Buying Antiques

Up and down the country crowds are flocking to antique events in eager anticipation of a rich haul of collectibles, whether looking for the perfect piece for home or in search of an investment opportunity.  And it’s not just for the older folk – vintage enthusiasts transcend the years ranging from the hip twenty somethings to elderly aficionados.

Whether it’s silver or porcelain, furniture or art that takes your fancy, we thought we would outline some pointers to help you when searching for antique treasure.

1.        Do your homework

Before you head off to a fair, have a good idea of what’s hot and what’s not and get to know your antique marks.   Or build your knowledge of a particular art style so can you pick out a bargain when you see one.

2.       Be suspicious of codes

Some dealers put a code on their antiques in place of a price tag allowing them to be flexible with the asking price depending on who you are and what they think you will pay for the item.

3.       Attend reputable fairs

Events organised by BADA (British Antique Dealers Association) and LAPADA (London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association) offer the assurance that the antiques on show are what their sales ticket says they are.  If they prove not to be, you’ve got come back.

4.       Hold your nerve

Don’t’ be afraid to haggle and if you’ve been unsuccessful in beating down the price in the earlier part of the day, it’s often worth returning later on for an ‘end of the day deal’.  It may also be worth asking for a ‘cash price’ once you’ve agreed a price.

5.       Go for the loner

When it comes to chairs, dealers like to sell them in sets and often charge a premium for whole sets.  Individual chairs are therefore often cheaper per chair and you could build up your own collection at a fraction of the price.

6.       Get touchy feely

Never be afraid to handle an item – if possible, lift items up and inspect them at all angles to check for damage and repairs, antique marks and to get an overall feel for the items.

7.       Don’t get carried away

If attending an auction, write down the most you are happy to pay for the piece you are interested in – and stick to it!  It’s very easy to get carried away once the bidding is underway and pay over the odds for a catalogue item.

8.       Listen to your heart

Always buy something because you like it.  Use your heart and then use your head.  And remember, it’s always a mistake to second-guess the market.

9.       Always get a receipt

Make sure it details the age of the item, material, value and any damage or restoration – even if you’ve paid in cash.

10.   Go for quality

Quality items are a sure bet – always go for the best example of what you are looking for.

Antique collecting is fast becoming a British obsession, but with the above in mind we hope you are better armed to grab yourself a bargain or the piece you need to make your home complete.  Whether you take the antiques home or let us look after them in one of our safe, secure and affordable storage units in Camden, Wandsworth and Southwark there’s always space for the things you love.

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