It’s been a long year for us treasure hunters, bound to the house when hidden gems are out there just waiting for us.
We miss antiquing and finding those historical masterpieces that have a story yearning to be told.
So, as life starts to get back to normal (kind of), we’re pulling our treasure hunter boots out of the closet and looking for that special something. And it’s great timing since the holidays are right around the corner!
Here’s what you need to know to be successful at antiquing this holiday season.
#1. Identify what kind of antique collection you want to build.
If you’re like us, you probably have a difficult time narrowing down what you want when you’re in a room full of beautiful antiques.
We find it’s helpful to begin your antiquing with some intention. Ask yourself: what will you be looking for? What collection do you want to build? Teapots? Trays? Are you an entertainer looking for pieces you can use at your parties? An antique silver cocktail shaker collection, perhaps?
Answering this question will help you hone in on your search, so you don’t leave the store with items you don’t want – while leaving behind beautiful pieces that you just didn’t see.
Make a plan for your antiquing. You – and your wallet – will fare much better!
#2. Identify a reputable antique shop – online or on the corner.
Now that you know what kind of pieces you want to buy (we’re suckers for anything from the Victorian era), it’s time to figure out where the heck you can find them.
There are a couple of options:
– Antique shops, of course.
– Garage sales
– Estate Sales
– Consignment Shops
– and eBay
Antique shops are an obvious go-to (for a list of great online shops, go here), but garage and estate sales are also gold mines for elegant antiques dying to be restored to their former glory. One of our clients found a vintage Tiffany’s vase at a garage sale worth over $1,000, which she bought for $8.00.
Side note: when it comes to having antiques delivered to you – whether it be from an online antique shop or eBay – you have to make sure that the item gets to you in one piece.
“What I would ask for,” Martin Biro explains, “is that it be professionally packaged. In other words, please don’t throw it in a box and send it. Take it to UPS or FedEx and have them package it for you. Put bubble around the piece and popcorn in the box. And if you use UPS, then it also can be insured.”
There’s nothing like uncovering an antique dripping in history and elegance, so enjoy this part! We know we do.
#3. Identify who made the piece – is it valuable, or is it junk?
If you haven’t read it already, run, don’t walk, to last month’s blog on how to identify your silver. Use this to learn how to determine if your silver is sterling (the most valuable), what its country of origin is, and who made it.
Once you know how to do this, you can easily decipher gems from junk and take home pieces that are well worth restoration services. And that leads us to our next point…
#4. Assess the state of the piece – can it be repaired?
To save yourself some coins, buy antiques that need some restoration. BUT, and this is a big “but,” be sure not to invest in a piece that is beyond repair.
How do you know the difference, you ask?
If the damage is just on the outside, or the finish, of the piece, you don’t need to worry.
“The finish can be dull, dusty, and dirty,” Martin explains, “that can always be cleaned, polished, and re-plated.
“It can even be black,” Martin adds. “That can be taken care of relatively easily, as can minor dents.”
Where problems arise, however, is when there are tears in the metal. That is much more difficult to repair, so be forewarned.
#5. Continue to educate yourself on antiques.
It’s taken us decades of honing our craft and working with antiques to build the knowledge base we have. We’ve studied and worked with antiques from all over the world, so we can quickly identify the real deal.
And you can develop the same skill set.
In your free time, pick up some antique magazines. By doing this, you can start to familiarize yourself with high-end silver, making it easier to spot when you’re out bargain hunting.
If you’re out antiquing and have difficulty deciding if a piece is worth restoration, please reach out to us! We’re here to help.