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Antiques and Collectables
With growing support for sustainability and ‘up-cycling’, the appeal of hunting for antique furniture has never been more popular. Millennials especially are looking to decorate their homes whilst minimising their environmental impact. This means purchasing items that have been in existence for 20 years (vintage), 50 years (collectibles) or more than 100 years (antiques) is all the rage.
The thing is, it can sometimes be difficult to meld the old with the new in terms of interior design. So, here are a few interior decorating principles to keep in mind when decorating with antique furniture.
Antique furniture can be a perfect centrepiece for a room, as these types of pieces have a uniqueness and sense of character that can be quite striking. However, don’t forget that smaller antique pieces can provide subtle accents and interest to an otherwise simple room. Centrepieces may come in the form of large items like armchairs, a rug or dining tables, whilst accents can be mirrors or small tables. Integrating antiques into your home through a mix of centrepieces and accents can give a sense of variety to your decorating that doesn’t feel formulaic.
Otherwise known as layering, adding older pieces to a room of today can make your design feel as though it speaks to a new and fresh style. On the other hand, a room full of antiques would simply create the effect of being transported back in time. If a wholly old-fashioned aesthetic is not what you’re after, consider which time eras integrate well together and use antiques to complement an otherwise modern room.
An important yet often overlooked interior design principle is that your home should be designed simply to make you feel good in that space. Antiques that serve a purely decorative purpose may make a place feel more like a museum than a home. Antiques don’t need to be treated as fragile. They will continue to stand the test of time so long as you take care of them so consider purchasing antiques that are functional as well as attractive to make your home feel lived in.
Having a strategy or a plan in mind is not a bad idea when it comes to decorating but don’t let yourself be so tied down to interior decorating rules that you don’t buy things you actually like. If you’re still figuring out your own personal taste and style, start small. Buy something low-commitment like a lamp or a vase, and as you become more assured about what your preferences, you can begin investing in those larger, more dominant, statement pieces. Be confident in the knowledge that if you can see a certain charm in a piece of furniture, then someone else will too. Decorating should be an expression of personal taste so don’t be afraid to make a space your own.
Now that you’re feeling inspired to decorate your room with some one-of-a-kind, vintage gems, all that’s left to do is find them. Good luck!
Antique enthusiasts make up a vibrant community of people who are fascinated by history and have an appreciation for the unique, the timeless and the rare. If you share a similar love, then perhaps antique selling is the lucrative side hustle for you. Or maybe you’ve simply inherited an antique that you’d rather sell than keep for yourself and you’re wondering how best to get your money’s worth. Here are 5 handy tips for selling your antiques.
The easiest way to learn which antiques are valuable and which are not is to specialise in a certain kind of antique at the outset of your antique-selling. By getting to know one category well, whether it be antique mirrors, clocks or jewellery, you will avoid becoming overwhelmed by the vast nature of the antique world and can instead develop a favourable reputation for selling antiques in a single niche area.
You will learn the most by dealing only with reputed sellers. You can ask them about the likelihood of an antique increasing in value or get an expert opinion on the best way to sell the antique yourself. Getting to know dealers who are well-known in the community provides an opportunity to network with the right people and you may find well-reputed traders recommend your antiques to their customers if they know you have a particular specialty.
Falling for a fake can not only mean losing the money you paid for it but it can damage your reputation as a seller. Familiarise yourself with the typical techniques used to make an item appear older than it is. If something looks too new, then it probably is. With furniture, look for irregularities that show it’s not a branded piece. It’s important to be able to confidently justify why the item you’re selling is legitimate to potential buyers, so do your research.
If you aren’t ready to make a significant investment in your antique-selling then selling online is the way to go. Selling antiques on eBay, for example, gives you access to wide net of potential buyers but it’s also harder to network and build a reputation online as little notice is taken of which user sold which antique. Selling at auctions, a Brick and Mortar location or road shows and malls makes it easier to build a consistent clientele and increases sales potential by giving shoppers the chance to see and feel your antiques.
A piece of advice that often gets forgotten is simply to buy what you love. Often you need to hang onto a piece for a while before selling it in order to make a profit so you may as well buy something you will appreciate in the meantime. If you love it, chances are someone else will see its charm as well. If you want to be more strategic then consider key historical dates that might lead to increases in the price of certain antiques. For example, if an era is approaching its 100-year anniversary then interest in items from that era may increasing along with their value.
We hope you’re inspired by the possibilities, both financial and social, that the antique world has to offer. Happy hunting!
How to spot fake antiques. One of the greatest fears for expert and novice antique hunters alike is buying a fake. It has happened to the best of us. In fact, UK newspaper The Independent estimates that 20% of all art in major UK museums could be fake.
So then, if even the experts can be fooled once in a while, how can weekend antiquers spot (and avoid buying) a fake?
It all boils down to this: buyer, beware. Make sure you do your research and invest in a thorough vetting process prior to purchasing that seemingly perfect piece.
If you’re interested in purchasing a specific antique, be sure to undertake your research first. Understand all the unique elements that make the piece priceless. This way, when it comes time for your shopping expedition, you’ll know exactly what to keep an eye out for. For instance, vintage Eames lounge chairs were built with all their screws carefully, painstakingly hidden inside—no screws should be visible to the naked eye. If you come across an Eames Chair studded with screws, you’ll know immediately that the seller is trying to peddle a knock-off.
If you’re an antiques novice, one of your first steps should be to align yourself with one or two reputable antique dealers. This way, you can rest easy that any pieces purchased through your dealer are authentic. When it comes to choosing a reputable dealer, we suggest that you opt for someone who holds an Australia Antiques & Art Dealers Association (AAADA) membership, who specialises in the exact type of antiques that you’re looking to purchase, and who does not also moonlight as an auctioneer.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions of the seller. Most reputable sellers will be only too happy to regale you with the tale of antique’s heritage. So, ask the seller if they know or can authenticate the provenance of the piece. Ask them how the piece came to be for sale. While it can be difficult to trace the entire lineage of exceptionally old antiques, a reputable seller should still have plenty of information available.
If you’re buying antique furniture, a tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with an authentic pre-industrial revolution piece is evidence of hand-crafted workmanship. For instance, if you’re buying an antique chair, simply run your hand over the under-side of the seat. Similarly, if it’s an antique table, have a quick feel of the underside of the table top. If the piece is truly an antique, the woodwork is likely to feel rough because it has been hand-carved, rather than machine cut. It wasn’t until around the 1850s that furniture started to be machine cut—a process that leaves a much smoother, more uniform finish.
In addition, most hand-carved pieces of furniture are unlikely to be 100% symmetrical. For instance, the legs on tables and chairs may not all be exactly the same. Small imperfections are what make hand-carved antique furniture so unique.
When it comes to dating antique furniture, wood is a key indicator of age. Specific types of wood were used during specific time periods. Prior to 1720, walnut was popular throughout Europe and its colonies. Mahogany was all the rage in 18th century Europe, while cherry was ever-popular in North America. Oak has stood the test of time, having been used prior to the 1700s, right through to the early 1900s. So, if you can identify the type of wood used to construct the piece of furniture, this should help you date it. It’s important to keep in mind that, prior to the 20th century, plywood was never used.
It is also vital to consider the condition and the colour of the wood. Wood actually shrinks and darkens as it ages. So, there should be some signs of wear and tear on antique furniture, particularly if it hasn’t been restored.
We’ve all heard tales of an antique hunter stumbling across a priceless treasure at the local Sunday morning car boot sale. In reality, these types of occurrences are few and far between. If you find that perfect trinket you’ve been searching for, priced well below its market value, ensure you engage in an in-depth vetting program before you invest your hard-earned dollars. Unfortunately, when it comes to antiques, the old saying is spot on: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
When it comes to buying antiques, it is always best to trust your own judgement—go with your gut. In practical terms, if you’ve fallen in love with a perfectly preserved vintage Eames lounge chair and matching ottoman in a well-known, reputable antiques store, then you can be fairly confident that it’s the real deal.
Are you looking to take your first foray into the antiques market? If so, one of your very first steps should be to find one or two reputable antique dealers.
Antiques dealers purchase items from auctions, markets, trade fairs and the like, and then on-sell these pieces at a profit. Generally, an antique dealer will specialise in a particular type of antique (such as art, or books, or furniture), a particular period (Victorian, or Tudor, or Art Deco), or even a particular country (Chinese, British, or European).
With all these options available, it is highly likely that there is a local antique dealer near you, who will be able to source and pass on the perfect pieces to complete your collection—hopefully at a fair price.
So then, with plenty of antique dealers available, how do choose a reputable partner?
The Australia Antiques & Art Dealers Association (AAADA) is a leading industry body that represents antique and fine art dealers in Australia. With only reputable companies and individuals approved for membership, the AAADA’s find a dealer program is a perfect place to begin your search.
The AAADA consults the Government on important issues pertaining to the industry and each member is dedicated to forwarding the industry and ensuring Australians have access to high-quality and trusted antiques dealers.
Each dealer is subject to a stringent vetting process and must uphold the principles listed in the AAADA’s Code of Practice.
If you peruse the AAADA-approved dealers registry, you’ll be able to find a dealer that specialises in exactly the type of antique you’re looking for. Rather than opting for a supplier that deals in a broad range of antiques, find a specialist dealer. This way, you’ll benefit from their in-depth, specialised knowledge and their access to the best of what’s available.
If you’re looking for mid-century furniture or late 19th-century artwork, why not purchase through someone that has devoted their whole life to that field? A specialist antique dealer will be able to pass on information on how to care for and repair the item, and explain particulars such as shipping, security and insurance. If you’re investing a significant amount of money, this type information is invaluable.
Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions of a potential dealer. If they are professional and transparent, they’ll be happy to satisfy any of your curiosities. So, whether your queries pertain to the piece itself, the sale process or shipping and insurance, do not hesitate to ask. There’s nothing worse than leaving a question unanswered, and a careful, detailed answer will give you a massive insight into your dealer.
The sale process is where a dealer can really set themselves apart. Do they accept all types of payment? Do they provide clear invoices? What does the price include? Do they indicate the date, maker and any restorations for the item? You need to be satisfied with all the answers to these questions, or you risk paying an unfair price.
A major red flag is an antique dealer who accepts only cash payments. This indicates that they wish to avoid a paper trail, and may have something to hide.
The clarity of the invoice is also essential. It should include everything from the sale price, to the cost of shipping. This is essential when it comes to taking out the right insurances and ensuring that both you and the dealer are safe from any misunderstandings.
Be wary of dealers who rely upon a sales pitch that goes a little something like this: “This piece really is exquisite. And, if you hold onto it for a few years, you’re sure to make a huge profit when it comes time for you to on-sell the piece.”
Antiques are like any other asset—dealers can make a rough estimate of how much it will be worth in the future, but there is no way of guaranteeing that value.
Instead, choose a dealer who is passionate about their wares and wants to find something that you will love. In many cases, you will live with your purchase. You’ll look at it every day, and you don’t want to be stuck with something you bought because you think it will appreciate by 50% if you hold onto it for 10 years.
A reputable antique dealer will operate on fact, rather than selling on false promises.
Reputable antique dealers are experts rather than salesman. Of course, they want to make money, but by passing on quality wares at the right price. If you come across an antique dealer who is pushy or tries to encourage you to make a quick purchase, this should be a warning sign.
A reputable antique dealer will give you a range of options, some pros and cons and then give you the time to think about the sale. If you try to take your time and they push back, it probably means they want to make a quick sale, rather than find the right piece for you.
This is a case of conflict of interest. You want someone who is entirely dedicated to sourcing the finest antique furniture and other items, not running auctions. This is an easy way to avoid trouble.
The best way to find a reputable dealer is to research the items you’re interested in purchasing. This way, you’ll be able to pick up on any inconsistencies as well as price inflations. If you go in completely blind, you’re a sitting duck. Do your work, and it will be evident if you’re dealing with a reputable antique expert.