A Beginner’s Mini Guide to Buying Antiques

Experience the thrill of the hunt without ignorance ruining the spoils, with this guide to antiquing for novice buyers.

The world of antiques has so much to offer, and it is more accessible than you might think. If you’ve been considering adding an antique piece or two to your home but are not sure where to begin, this mini guide covers the basics, from what makes an antique an antique to how to spot a great piece, the importance of provenance and more.

Whether you are curious about buying antiques or are a seasoned antique lover, jump in and join the discussion!

Why buy antiques? Even one or two antiques can infuse a home with warmth and personal style. Here are a few more reasons to welcome antiques into your home:

  • Unlike most new furniture, which decreases in value over time, your antique purchases will hold their value — and even increase in value over the years.
  • Antique furniture was built to last; expect to find better materials and higher-quality construction than in new mass-produced furniture.
  • Antiques have character, patina and a sense of history.
What is an antique? An item must be at least 100 years old to be officially called an antique. Vintage goods are younger than that, generally at least 20 years old. Collectibles can be any popular item, no matter the age — some collectibles may be vintage and others antique.
How to educate yourself about antiques. If you have an interest in antiques, you might want to familiarize yourself with the styles of different time periods and places by reading a good book on the subject or even signing up for a class through a community center or a continuing education program at a local college.

Another great way to get hands-on knowledge is to simply visit good antiques shops, auctions, and fairs. If you are open about the fact that you are there to learn more about antiques but are not ready to buy yet, many dealers will be happy to share their knowledge. Just be courteous and choose to ask your questions during a slow time in the shop, not when it’s swamped with visitors.

Where to shop for antiques. Hunting for antiques in person will give you the most information — especially important when you are just starting out. Look through antiques stores and “barns” (where multiple vendors sell together), fairs, flea markets, auctions and estate sales. You may even have luck at local garage sales or on Craigslist — once you have your eyes open for antiques, you will be amazed at the sources you’ll find.
What to know if you shop online. Many online shops offer the convenience of antiquing from the comfort of your favorite chair — 1stdibs and eBay are two of the most popular. If you want to try antiquing online, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Large furniture comes with hefty shipping charges, so it’s probably wise to order small pieces online.
  • If you do want to source a bigger piece online, try using the “shop by location” feature available on a number of sites, including eBay, 1stdibs and Etsy.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for additional information and photos from different angles, exact measurements etc.
  • Always inquire about the seller’s return policy.
How to spot a great piece. First, follow your heart. This is something you will be living with and using daily, not putting on display in a museum, so think of your own needs and style preferences first — and consider any investment value a bonus.

Then take a closer look at the piece: Is it well constructed? Does it look like it’s been well cared for? Note any wobbly legs, broken pieces, cracks, stains etc. Also be sure to ask the seller about the history of the piece.

What about provenance? Provenance is proof of where a particular piece came from. Proof could include purchase receipts, documents from auction houses, professional appraisals, photographs and historic records.

Generally, provenance is provided only for higher-value or rare antiques. Having this documentation is important if you ever plan to resell the item and can also be helpful for insuring it.

Think before committing to revamp a worn piece. It is possible and can be wonderful to refresh an antique; just be aware that reupholstering can be quite costly. Also, really high-quality antiques might lose value if you replace the original fabrics or finishes — even if they are in bad shape.

That said, if your budget allows and the piece warrants it, re-covering an antique chair or sofa with a beautiful new fabric can be a very rewarding project.

Tell us: If you buy antiques, where are your favorite antiquing haunts? What was your most amazing find? Share your stories!

Orson B.Klender,  Associate Broker

Keller Williams Realty Saratoga Springs
38 High Rock Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866



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Cell: 1 (518) 588-2319 ~ Fax: 1(866) 588-6066


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About Real Estate Agent in Saratoga Springs

As an agent who's an expert in this local area, I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate here. It's not the same everywhere, so you need someone you can trust for up-to-date information. I am eager to serve you.

One response to “A Beginner’s Mini Guide to Buying Antiques”

  1. Markham + DeRentis says :

    Reblogged this on .

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