Over the years I have talked to many people who say things like, “I have an antique from my grandmother.” With further conversation, I find out that the item is from the 1940s. As defined by law, an antique has to be at least 100 years old; otherwise it is classified as used furniture or a collectible. There are “near antiques” (75-99 years old) and vintages (25-74 years old), but of course those items aren’t nearly as valuable as true antiques. Not yet at least.
“Great is always great,” says fellow HADA member Ralph Pokluda, “whether it’s 50 years old or 350 years old.”
I couldn’t agree with him more.
I remember when I first started collecting I was encouraged by older dealers to either collect the best or wait until I could afford to do so. From my experiences, waiting for the best is always better. I still use quality pieces that I purchased years ago by simply changing location, wall color, fabric colors and adding a few accessories. These antiques match any décor I choose. Their remarkable quality has made it easy for them to adapt to my ever-changing style through the years.
When I absolutely have to have a certain item but don’t have the immediate budget to support it, I abandon my wait-for-the-best policy and take on a layaway plan. Many good quality antique pieces can be pricey, and antique dealers recognize this. For this reason, most are more than willing to work with their buyers on pay plans. I have no regrets about the purchases I’ve made with layaway plans. I believe that if a piece speaks that loudly and personally to someone (and it’s not outrageously beyond their budget), they deserve it.
People often ask the question, “Why should I pay extra for an antique when I can get the same look for less money in a new item?” The answer is simple. Antiques are a good investment. During economic downturns, many turn to investing in antiques because they not only retain their value but appreciate. While a house full of new or used furniture may have little resale value, a house full of antiques, on the other hand, is completely opposite of that. In addition, used and new furniture are nearly impossible to consign. Antiques, however, are usually relatively easy to consign.
“Consign a good quality antique,” he says, “and you may even get a return on your investment.”
There are so many advantages to buying antiques, yet people still hesitate at the thought of it. And no wonder, a good antique can be very hard to find. Research should always precede the buying process, especially for those who are new to the game. I’ve listed some additional antique-buying tips below to help guide you in your search for a timeless treasure:
Always buy from reputable dealers, ones who will stand by their merchandise. A receipt is always necessary. Make sure it has the following information: the dealer, address, item purchased and a description including the approximate age of the item.
Take a photograph of the item and get its approximate measurements. Place this information in a safe place for insurance purposes. Do research on items or things that you would like to collect by reading reference books, looking through magazines, visiting museums, searching the Internet, etc.
Visit antique shops and shows, and talk to dealers. You may not have intentions of purchasing anything, but familiarizing yourself with the world of antiques is essential. And what better way to do that than by seeking expert advice?
Diversify your collection by collecting different styles from different countries. However, be careful never to buy an antique that doesn’t speak to you.
Lastly, never settle for less. If an antique doesn’t strike you as being “the best,” don’t waste your money on it. Good antiques are hard to come by and the last thing you want to do is overpay for a counterfeit.
Collecting antiques should be fun and adventurous. I love antique shopping while traveling and I believe time can always be set aside on vacations for a little antique browsing. After all these years, I still look for items to blend into my collections. I like to diversify my collection, and I encourage all collectors to do the same. Be different, collect things that reflect your personality. Mix things up. In my own home I have items from France, Spain, Portugal, England, Holland, Russia, China, Mexico and Italy, just to name a few. Antique buying is an incredible challenge when collectors choose to widen their knowledge and horizons.
Antique collections should be continually added to. Every day, more and more people enter the world of antiques, and for good reason: buying and collecting antiques is a sound investment with little room for error. Antiques are truly for everyone and can add a touch of grace to even the most modern of homes. We beleive that antiques “help connect us with the past and with history.”
“By collecting and living with antiques,” he says, “we can learn a little more about the people who came before us.”
The antique market can be an intimidating place, especially for new collectors. But as with the nature of antiques, time is what makes all the difference.