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How to Deal in Antiques and Collectibles

Updated on January 28, 2020

Definition of an Antique and a Collectible

An antique is defined as something that is at least 100 years old while a collectible is anything that people collect and the age does not really matter, unless it is marked as a vintage collectible then it must be at least 50 years old

Consider Avoiding;

Furniture that looks too clean and perfect, or where the parts don’t match such as the legs with the rest of the item. Antique furniture should have signs of age like cracks, warps, uneven widths and sizes, or shrinkage and should not show signs of having been recently restored.

Glass which is cracked, excessively scratched, or shows signs of clouding on the surface.

Mass produced or common items Seek out the rarer items which always sell well as there is usually not enough supply to meet the demand.

Limited edition items, where they are limited to a production run of 1000’s.

Commemorative wares as these are usually mass produced.

Damaged or repaired items, unless you know they are very rare.

Overpaying This is where your knowledge of a subject will come in very useful. Remember that just because something is displayed at a certain price does not mean it is worth that amount.

● Anything requiring repair or restoration or has parts missing. To bring these up to a resalable or display standard may prove to be very expensive.

Scams such as forged certificates of authenticity, forged autographs, reproductions or replicas sold as the real thing. Always ask direct questions of the seller “Is it genuine?” or “Has it been restored”. If you get evasive answers such as “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” then be very wary. Remember, buyer beware.

Paying the asking price Always negotiate, and even after a price is agreed, offer to pay by credit card and then ask if there is a further discount if you paid instead by cash.

● Unless you are certain an item is genuine avoid the latest fads as these areas will usually be flooded with fakes and reproductions.

Credit: Jorge Royan WM
Credit: Jorge Royan WM

Think About;

● Only buying what you yourself like. If you buy something you don’t like, it will be harder to show enthusiasm for the item when you are trying to sell it.

● When you are starting out, first buy cheap items then if you make a mistake it won’t be a costly one.

● Concentrating on individually produced crafted items.

● Looking for rarity and quirkiness.

● Always buying the best possible quality you can afford rather than large quantities of cheaper items.

● Only buying items that can be easily transported. These are normally much easier to sell than large ones.

● If you are thinking of buying furniture or other items for your house, buy antique. They are usually cheaper than their modern equivalent and will not lose their value compared to new items. If you look after them the can then be sold at a later date.

● Be wary of buying items that are coded rather than have a price label on them. The price may depend on what a dealer thinks you can afford.

Credit: Northern Illinois University
Credit: Northern Illinois University

Future Antiques and Collectibles

A list, in no particular order, of items and themes, some of which have been popular with collectors and dealers for many years that may be worth collecting now for selling in the future.

► Disney branded items

► Cameras

► Country style furniture

► Advertising memorabilia

► Fossils

► Comic Books

► Vinyl Singles and LPs

► Military memorabilia

► Individually crafted wooden and furniture items

► Toys

► Movie memorabilia

► First edition books

► Jigsaw puzzles

► Gardening memorabilia

Knowledge is indeed power

This information is provided for guidance only. Remember that there is no substitute for knowledge if you are buying to collect or resell. Learn as much as you can about the area you want to focus on. Speak to other dealers or collectors or local auction houses, they have a wealth of knowledge and will be only too pleased to give you advice.


@ 2013 Brian McKechnie (aka WorldEarth)


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