My list of antiques essentials for enthusiasts, collectors and wannabee dealers  Are you fascinated by antiques and want to learn more?  Heres my antiques essentials, things to know about, to kickstart your collecting, buying and selling. Learn about these and you will be able to identify, buy and sell, research, care and store and value your old things.  I’m going to write in depth about each of these as there is too much information for one article. These are not in any particular order.

Antiques Essentials:

How to identify antiques

antiques essentials

1. Style

We need to learn all the different styles so that we can identify the style of an object. Art Nouveau. Art Deco, the 1970s, Victorian, French, Modernist, Egyptian or in the style of a particular maker? The style of an item helps us to date it. It does not mean that the piece was made at the time or in the place or by the particular maker that the style is attributed to, however, it’s a good place to start. A piece does not usually date from before the style but can come after it.

2. Materials

Whats it made of ?  Glass or plastic? Pottery or porcelain? Which wood? Gold or plated and how about identifying gemstones? There can, of course, be a mixture of materials in an item. We do need to know what something is made of before we can start to value or clean an item.

3. Age

Age and style are not the same things so we also need to know how old an object is. Is it original or a more recent copy? This one often has us confused. We need to look for clues which are often in the materials and the methods of manufacture

4. Who made it and where was it made?

Often there are makers markings on an item to help us identify the maker. If not there are other ways for the most iconic pieces – flicking through books, for example, may just turn up a similar item

How to buy and sell antiques

There is a different set of skills depending where you choose to buy and sell

5. In person

This can be one to one or at any face to face venue such as a car boot sale, antique fair or through to the highest end antiques shop. There is an art to buying and selling in this way. Maybe, like me, you will never be very comfortable with this type of transaction. Others relish the art of the negotiation. Whichever type of person you are, mastering this one of the antiques essentials will be highly profitable.

at auction

6. At auction

My favourite way to buy antiques. You can look through at your leisure undisturbed by a pushy seller. Like buying and selling in person, there is an art to attending auctions. You can make or lose a lot of money depending on how you approach them.

7. On-line

There are so very many ways to buy and sell antiques onlinesell antiques online. I suggest choosing just one to start with and working that out. The others are then easy to master as most have the same way of going about things. This is especially true for a seller as taking photos, packing, posing and customer service are all independent of the venue. Venues to consider include eBay, Etsy, Facebook or even setting up your own website.

How to research antiques

8. How to read markings

Are there markings on your newly acquired antique and do you know how to read them? Some markings are obvious but others less so. A magnifier and a couple of specialist books go a long way but you also need to learn how to use them.

9. In person

In person means to just ask the right person. To identify antiques you can ask an expert collector or a dealer but Personally, I worry that I am not getting the correct information here. Unless you completely trust the person you are asking then I would not rely on the information 100%, they may simply be wrong or they may wish to mislead you for their own gain. One place you can also ask is at an auction house, they often have free valuation days.

10. Books

A good book on the subject of your antique will often be a gold mine of information. The problem often is that the books can be quite expensive or simply not to hand. Second-hand reference works are often a good buy, especially for the more costly ones.

11. On-line

There is lots of information online about antiques but it comes with a warning that it may not be correct. One thing we can do quite well online is value antiques ( see below). The other is to join Facebook groups such as Talking Antiques where you can get information from a lot of very knowledgeable set of people for free.

How to care for and store antiques

12. Cleaning

Before you clean antiques you need to know what they are made of ( see above) and how to tackle that particular type of material. You also need to think about any decoration or add-ons, check that the cleaning method will not remove or damage it in some way. I have one Golden Rule on cleaning which is possibly the most important of antiques essentials  – if in doubt don’t. Leave it to the experts or until you are sure what you are doing.

13. Storing and moving

To maintain your antiques at their very best they need to be stored and moved with great care. The way will depend on the type, for example, a porcelain statue or piece with bits sticking out needs lots of care. I will cover this in more detail before too long.  For some articles such as jewellery, it is simply a case of ensuring it is clean and dry and wrapping it in tissue paper before storing carefully in a box.

14. Displaying

There is an art to displaying your antiques. At home or when selling at an antique fair. You can learn to group them together to make a good picture when you look at them. For some items, it may be placing them in an album or a specialist display case. For others, you will want shelving. All things to think about.

how to wear antiques?

15. Wearing

Are you intending to wear your antique jewellery? If so there is an art to it. Put your hairspray, makeup and perfume on first. Add the jewellery last to give it the best chance of staying clean and free from attack by oils and salts. Once you have removed it you can then clean the jewellery before storing it away until next time.

16. How to value your antiques

This is a bit like researching your antiques in many ways. You can ask in person, at an auction house, look in books or find similar online. Before you start have a think about why you want a valuation as there are several different types. There are valuations for probate, for insurance and for resale. Each valuation will have a different value.

17. How to invest in antiques

I’m more of an expert on how not to invest in antiques, I could write a book on it.  Seriously though, you invest in antiques by spotting what is likely to be more valuable in the future than it is now. Good luck – The things I have bought for the future have always gone down in value in the long term, I’m much better at buying and selling in the short term.

18. Learning


Antiques Essentials overview

I hope you enjoyed my whistle-stop tour of antiques essentials. Can you think of any more? If so then please do pop a comment below and I will add to the list.