Shopping for Antiques

Someone else’s junk might very well be your treasure that you need and want very much. The challenge when hunting for antiques is sifting through the riffraff to find the gems. It’s easy to make mistakes, but with tips for shopping, you should be more successful in your quest for good buys.

Ask Questions

Before any money changes hands, spend time asking questions of the dealer to learn about the item. By asking questions, you learn not only about the dealer, but also about items you are considering purchasing. Questions to ask may include the following:

– Are you a member of a dealer association or an appraiser association?
– How long have you been dealing in antiques?
– Do you have a specialty?
– Do you sell reproductions? If so, how do you differentiate between items to help consumers know whether they are reproductions?
– How do you learn whether an item is a reproduction or a genuine antique? What criteria do you use for identification?
– How do you price products?
– Do you offer a guarantee about authenticity?
– If you cannot be certain about authenticity, do you price products accordingly?
– Do you have a return policy? What are the terms of this policy?

Using Your RADAR

Shoppers looking for valuable antiques often apply the principles of RADAR while hunting. This acronym involves assessing items for rarity, aesthetics, desirability, authenticity, and really good condition.

Rarity – Rarity can be an excellent indicator of value. If few items were made or if few remain in circulation, this can drive the price up. Unusual colors or designs can also increase value significantly. Even an unusual style that deviated from a manufacturer’s typical style can lead to a higher price tag. Lastly, a piece that is difficult to reproduce has a special rarity that makes it more expensive.

Aesthetics – Pieces with an overall pleasing appearance have important aesthetic properties. While this can be somewhat subjective according to personal taste, many things will have an overall aesthetic appeal that makes them attractive to most people.

Desirability – The current market drives desirability. Trends vary over time, but whatever is currently popular will generally be more expensive.

Authenticity – Signed and certified authentic antiques have a higher price tag. It can be difficult to tell the difference between an authentic piece and a reproduction, but many people enjoy this challenge. Clues that will help you narrow authenticity include the time period of manufacture, the artist who created the piece, and the type of materials used in production.

Really Good Condition – Ideally, condition will be pristine, but this isn’t always the case. Wear and other issues typically occur over time that cannot be avoided. The fewer things done to alter the condition of a piece, the more value it will have. Various conditions you might find include mint condition, excellent condition, and good condition. Damage could present itself in the form of breaks, tears, scratches, gouges, dings, and chips.