How to Choose a Reputable Antique Dealer
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?
Opt for a Dealer that Holds Trade Association Membership
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.
Find A Specialist
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.
Ask Plenty of Questions
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.
Ensure the Payment Process and Conditions are Clear
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.
Purchase on Fact, Not False Promises
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.
Be Wary Of ‘Pushy’ Tactics
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.
Don’t Go With Dealers Who Also Work As Auctioneers
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.
Do Your Own Research
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.