Becoming the expert hunter of antiques is not something many people discover a passion, let alone a talent for. It takes hard work, research, great negotiating (and people) skills, and patience. Lots and lots of patience. Patience in spades and bushels. Whatever unit of management you want to measure it by. Luckily, it is something that with the right amount of dedication and practice, many people can learn to do it and learn to do it well. There a few certain skills that you develop, as well as many tips out there to help you make the best of your new hobby. After you decide what antiquing will be in your life–whether you are deciding to pursue it as a means of income, or merely a fun hobby or activity born out of your love of history and good craftsmanship–there are a few things you should know in order to head out into the world of antiquing.
One of the first and best pieces of advice out there is to limit your interests and decide what types of items you’d be interested in purchasing. Literally everything can become antique, but not everything can become a valuable antique. You need to narrow down your field of interest to a certain area or category that you’d be comfortable or happy spending a lot of time researching and studying to buy. You’re likely going to see hundreds if not thousands of examples of that area over the course of a long and healthy antiquing career, and you need to consider if this is something you’re going to become bored with after a few months. Once you have a scope of interest–say old books, 18th century furniture, art deco jewelry and decor–you can begin researching.
You need to know where you’ll be able to buy these things. Of course our go to today would be the internet, and that can be a great research tool, but it shouldn’t be the only means of experience you have with the world. If you can, you need to get yourself in the habit of experiencing the products in person. Get a feel for them, be able to examine the items from all angles. Research is one of the main keys to success in this area. Read books about the time period that the objects of interest to you come from. Learn about their craftsmanship and general background. You’ll quickly build up a working knowledge of things to look for when you finally examine the items in person. Or, if you’re purchasing through the internet, you’ll know the right types of questions to ask the people from whom you’re purchasing your items.
Another helpful thing to know is the art of the bargain. Once you get a good feel for the types of antiques and vintage items you’d like to purchase, you’ll also start to build up a working knowledge of pricing, value, and rarity of different types of items. These will all be key things to know when you finally find the items that you absolutely have to have. It may sound cliche, but knowledge really is power, especially when it comes to the art of the bargain. It will allow you to spot a reasonable price, a deal, or something that is grossly overpriced. If you see something but would like to negotiate a deal, give it a try. Any discount you get on the item will also give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It will also be important to remember that even though you can haggle or bargain, you should do so sparingly and carefully. The people selling are still doing business, and unless what they have is “old junk” that they just want to get rid of, they may still need to make a bit of money off the sale. You’ll need to keep your expectations realistic when negotiating prices.
These are the most important things to know before you head out and begin your antique hunting adventure. Remember, it’ll take time and effort to build yourself up into the pro, but the work and sense of satisfaction you’ll get from learning this skill will be worth all the effort you put in.