Collecting, displaying, and restoring antiques is a passion shared by thousands of people globally, whether seasoned dealers or budding antiquarians. Many hobbyists find it hard to explain why their interests lie in period pieces precisely; perhaps it’s a reminiscence of a time passed by, appreciation of the sheer artistry that goes into creating a relic or simply the monetary value which undoubtedly rises with each passing year. Regardless of enthusiasts individual reasoning, they all have one unifying reason for participating in the hobby: the thrill of the chase.
Much like any collector, there is no greater joy for antiquarians when they find bargain antiquity like vintage toys, wooden chests, antique mirrors etc., hidden amongst the junk at a car boot sale. At these car boot sales or antique centres, avid collectors can use their talents to identify underpriced bargains that they re-sell for a profit or keep for their collection.
However, spotting a bargain can be challenging for novices to the hobby, and it can be hard to ask others for assistance when you’re all vying for the same deals. Whether you’re searching for a one-off find or a particular item, we’ve created this article outlining several top tips for novice antiquarians looking to bag a bargain no matter where your hunt for antiques might take you.
Trust Your Gut
When shopping in-person for antique bargains, if you spot something that piques your interest, make sure that you hold onto it even if you’re not sure whether you’re going to make the purchase or not since plenty of other enthusiasts will be in attendance. They will be watching closely if you change your mind about items and put them back. You never know how valuable antiques are or if someone in attendance has more knowledge about a particular antique than you, which is why they might be watching you closely in case you change your mind.
Follow your gut instinct and be open to purchasing various items like clocks, toys and antique mirrors; you could find that you make a profit or that the thing is entirely worthless; either way, it adds to the learning experience. Alternatively, if you don’t like the thrill of the chase or the idea of battling the clock for deals, you could utilise online stores such as Antiques Boutique, a place where sellers can offer antiques for sale. Peruse different sellers’ offerings on their website to see if you could find a bargain today.
Persistence Is Key
Much like the popular idiom ‘the early bird gets the worm’, the same rule applies to finding bargains, whether they be antiques or not. To give yourself the best chance of securing a bargain purchase, you need to be persistent to find them. For instance, if you’re going to an antique fair and the doors open at nine o’clock in the morning, be prepared to arrive early, so you’re one of the first people in the queue.
It may seem like an early start, but we assure you that it’s the best way to ascertain that all the best buys haven’t gone. Suppose you’re determined to bag a bargain. In that case, we recommend dedicating as many of your weekends as possible to the cause and following/visiting online auctions, in-person auctions or fairs and antique shops often. Doing so will give you the best chance possible at finding hidden heirlooms and coveted treasures.
Be Aware Of Reproductions
Like any collecting hobby, the risk of reproductions is ever-present, and due to their popularity, they are only getting harder to spot. Always trust your gut when searching for bargains and use your gained knowledge to spot tell-tale signs of fake items. Ask yourself if the article looks old, and don’t be afraid to use your hands to search for tell-tale signs that the item could be genuine or not. Suppose that an antique chair had caught your attention.
In that case, run your hand along the bottom of the seat and check if the wood is hand-carved/rough or if it bears a maker’s mark – if the answer to these tests is positive, then it’s probably a genuine item. However, if you’re not sure whether an item is fake or not, you could always ask the seller. Providing that the item is genuine, the seller should always be happy to answer any questions you may have; however, you are probably best to leave the item if they dodge the questions.
Prepare To Haggle
If you spent most of your time hunting for bargains at auctions, fairs, or car boot sales, you’re probably no stranger to haggling and understand that negotiation can play a large part in securing a deal. Most novice antiquarians don’t realise that you could spend at least ten to fifteen minutes bartering for a price on an antiquary and that there are distinctive do’s and don’ts for successful haggling.
Make sure you are friendly, smile and show an interest in the item’s history; you can then ask the seller what their best price is and if they have a bargain price for cash purchases. Still, remain courteous even if the price is too high, as if the item is still available at the end of the auction, you could make another offer.
Get To Know Dealers
Providing that you attend antique fairs, auctions, and car boot sales often, you will probably get used to seeing some familiar faces and getting to know them can be worthwhile. Establishing rapport with dealers can help you get better deals, gain trust and could even gain insight as to where and when the following fairs, auctions and car boots will take place.
Furthermore, trying to get to know the familiar faces at in-person events can also help you if an antiquary is a little out of your price range, as you could ask them if they’d allow you to purchase in instalments which they may be more prone to accept if you’ve established a basis of trust.