Antique and Vintage ‘hunting’ can be hard work but also an extremely rewarding pastime. If you are looking to buy antiques and vintage items for your personal collection or as part of your profession, here are some tips that everyone can use when shopping for antiques in brick and mortar stores or online.
1. Get to know your target. Have knowledge of the antique you are searching for before you search for it. Too general an idea may lead you astray and too narrow an idea may cause you to miss sight of a valuable item. There is a wealth of information available – especially in libraries. Has it been awhile since you picked up a book? Try an old school approach by picking up a book on your subject.
2. Research. Doing research on the type of antique you want to buy will facilitate acquiring it. Perform a Google search for images of the antique. You can learn a lot by actually seeing variations in form and style. Check guide books and sold listings online to determine a reasonable price range for the antique. You don’t want to overspend because you are enthusiastic about a find but it is also good to have an idea about the state of the market for the item you are looking for. Things fluctuate and it’s important to monitor those changes.
3. Forget that it’s an antique. Yep! You heard us right. Forget that it’s an antique and look at it. Do you LOVE it? Whether it is an antique or not doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you like it and it makes you feel good. Take away the fact that it’s an antique and look at it for the aesthetic value. What does it ‘bring to the table’ for you?
4. Ask questions. Develop a sense of inquisitiveness. Politely ask the seller about the item you consider buying. He or she can sometimes provide you with information you weren’t able to get through research. You will also gain some time to put everything in perspective. Many times, sellers enjoy talking about what they are selling because it is their passion. Absorb everything you can from a seller willing to talk.
5. Compare items. When you are starting out, it is not easy to know how much you really like something or how rare or valuable it is in the beginning. Make as many comparisons as you can with similar antiques. Refining your ability to notice details is an asset in picking out the best antique.
6. Turn to experts and remember to thank them after. Keep a list of experts you know to be dependable and develop a rapport with them. You have a much better chance of finding and choosing the right antique when you are efficient in networking. Experts may include appraisers, museum curators, and auctioneers. They can help you avoid a knockoff or a reproduction of an antique that is selling as an original. Compensate the expert for their time and if they do the work pro bono, send them a thank you note with a gift card to a coffee shop. They will remember it and will most likely be glad to help you again!
7. Keep a journal. Successful people often keep journals. The world of antiques is complex. No one can keep in mind all its features. A journal not only helps you to review what you learn, but it also helps you to clarify issues and keep track of your progress over the years. You can share your ideas and feelings with others better if you write them down. Someday your children and others may benefit from studying your journal.
8. Broaden your search. Where have you been looking for antiques? Are there some areas you are overlooking? Take action now to get to those places. It’s an excellent excuse for a road trip. You might find a treasure trove in a sleepy little town antique store. Don’t miss antique and vintage shows in your area – sellers bring their best items to shows. If you can’t hit the streets, surf the websites (like Ruby Lane!) that sell antiques, visit local shops, and learn at museums.
9. Don’t settle. If you hear yourself saying, “Oh, well, this will do for now,” you may be sabotaging your success. Settling for less than you want is a costly way to do business. Buy the absolute best you can afford. Stay in shape and in the game as long as you can. Your score will always improve.
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