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Antiques hold a myriad of appeals to many people. For starters, they are steeped with history and stories. People like to be able to hold a tangible piece of history in their hands. Some appreciate them for their beauty, harkening to a piece of craftsmanship and artistry that we think just doesn’t exist in the things of the world anymore. They look beautiful on our mantels, bookshelves, or sitting in our living rooms and dining rooms. We like to look at them, and guess at the stories they may have told.
Still others see them as an investment, a good place for them to be able to put their money, hoping that the items they collect will appreciate in value. In short, antiques are something that continue to intrigue and interest us, and they can be a great hobby or interest to get into. With a little research, patience, and luck you can also start to build your own collection of antiques.
Getting started with collecting antiques can seem to be an overwhelming task at first, especially if you’re new to the whole endeavor. Luckily, the world we live in now provides us with a wide array of opportunities to be able to dip a toe or two in before committing to spending weekends jumping through yard sales or attending high-end auctions. Before you begin, it’s important you know exactly what you’re looking for or what you’re looking at. There a few terms with which to be familiar when you get started that will help you know how old or not so old some particular items are that you’ll be looking to own.
The first term to be familiar with is a “true antique”. Customs and classifications will vary between regions and dealers, but it is generally accepted that they are items that are at least a century old, though in some areas the time frame may be as late as the 1930s. True antiques are considered desirable because of their age, beauty, or collectibility. Another term to know would be “near antique”, and these items are said to be between 75 to 100 years old. Again, these will vary on qualities such as their age, beauty, and condition. The third term you’ll see used frequently is “vintage”, which can be a bit trickier to define. Generally, they encompass items from recent history, usually between the 1940s to the 1970s. And the final term to know is “collectable”, which are items that can come from any time, but their value lies in their rarity, condition, and availability.
Once you’ve got a handle on some of the terms to look for, you should move on to thinking about the type of items you’re looking to collect. It may be tempting to just start acquiring any and all items that strike your interest, but you should take a moment to consider what those interests are before you start buying. If you like art or books, looking for antiques that fit that interest will bring you greater joy than buying antique kitchen wares. If you love sewing, vintage sewing patterns or antique sewing machines could be the path to take. The point is that you’re about to invest a fair bit of time and money to acquire these items, and you want to make sure that they will become something you will truly enjoy.
The next thing to do is to consider your budget and purpose for buying. Are you going to be looking to resell these items to make a profit, or are you looking to round out the decor of your home or office space? Do you have a fair bit of time and money to put in, or are you just looking to get a piece or two to get a feel for the hobby? Once you have the answer to these questions, you’ll know what direction to go in next. This will help you to set realistic goals for yourself and keep you from acquiring too many things that you may not want, need, or have the ability to resell for a fair price.
After all of this, you’re officially ready to get started. The best place for any antique shopper to start would be local stores. This gives you the ability to really learn about your local history as well as experience the items firsthand. The next thing you should look for is the condition and rarity of your items, which will be especially important if you’re trying to resell the items that you come by. Learn the difference between mint condition (pretty much perfect), excellent condition (one or two bits of minor damage), and good condition (it’ll need some work, but overall is presentable). Start making connections with other antiquers who have more experience, and you’ll find a wide network of people who share your passion and can help you keep a look out for items that are of interest to you.
It takes time and effort to get yourself going, but once you start to establish yourself, you’ll find that the task becomes easier. Antiques hold proof of long and varied lives, and help us mark the progress through time that we have made as humans. It’s a great passion to have and it lends itself to a wide variety of passions and avenues.