Tips for Beginner Antique Buyers
The problem with modern manufacturing is that nothing is “made” anymore, everything’s only manufactured. For instance, have you tried looking today for the beautiful handcrafted quality that furniture used to have years ago? Antique buyers today are really tuned in to how valuable antique furniture can be. Furniture design allows for expression of a creator in some unique ways and antique buyers today see this kind of artistic expression as a great avenue for investment.
If you’re only starting out buying antiques, you shouldn’t so much think about the investment potential in a purchase as you should about the aesthetic satisfaction in owning a beautifully-constructed piece of furniture. You want to buy something that you personally find beautiful, that you want because it is the best that you can get for your money. And since you aren’t experienced in judging an antique for value or quality at this stage, you should only buy from a reputable dealer.
Starting out, beginner antique buyers find themselves confronted at the dealer with the most bewildering range of periods, styles and woods to choose from. In fact, the antique dealer will probably ask you about your preference among the Oriental, the Continental, the American and the British styles. What would you say? Do you want mahogany, oak – how do you make up your mind? You could also benefit from thinking about how practical the piece of furniture you’re picking is.
To judge a piece for the condition it is in, take a look at the hinges and other hardware. If the original hardware is still there, you can feel somewhat assured of the authenticity of the article. You want to look for the most intact and untouched piece of furniture possible.
Antique buyers should watch out for pieces that have had lemon oil rubbed into them. Some antique owners try to do this in the belief that this helps protect the wood. In fact, it does the exact opposite – it damages wood and lowers its value. Look out for oily-feeling furniture that seems to be too dark for the kind of wood that is claimed to be used.
The beginner antique buyer would do well to start out with small pieces before moving on to grander stuff. Starting off with something from the 19th century should be a great idea. These should absolutely have their original patina on them. You could try later designs from the Victorian era too. These could have refinished surfaces.
Remember, even experienced antique furniture collectors collect mainly for personal pleasure and not investment value. Investment value is usually incidental.