Stopping at the sight of an antiques sign overlooking a yard spread with painted rocking chairs and dusty chests of drawers is a temptation few collectors can resist. But is impulse buying ever a good idea? After all, the rationale goes, you may never again pass this way, drive past this barn, visit this faraway state, or find another weather vane quite like this one. Is buying it worth the risk? Is the price too high? Have you ever bought something only to be delighted – or devastated – later?
Whether you are a novice or an advanced collector, here are ten easy tips designed to protect you from regretting what you’ve picked:
1) Don’t buy the first item you see. It is important to investigate the marketplace to see what is available and to learn what price is fair.
2) Make it your first priority to buy only things that you really love and want to live with rather than trying to buy things only because you believe or you are told that they will rise in value.
3) Attend museum exhibitions, gallery and antiques shows, flea markets, tag sales, and auctions. Visit every dealer and collector involved in your area of special interest so that you will learn as much as you can. Do research in advance and continue to learn.
4) Read every possible publication in the antiques and art trade, especially those that feature information about the subjects that interest you most.
5) Try to spend only what you can afford, but make sure that any item you choose is one of the best of its kind.
6) Don’t be afraid to ask the dealer questions. A dealer you can trust will advise you and answer your questions honestly.
7) Determine if what you are buying is as old as it is purported to be.
8) Remember that the condition of a piece is important. Has it been repaired or restored? If so, how much and by whom? Objects in their original condition usually retain their value and continue to rise in value more readily.
9) If relevant, is the piece sterling or silverplate, gold or gold-filled, newly painted, overpainted, or in original condition?
10) When you buy, be sure the seller gives you a receipt that includes the following information: a complete description of the antique or collectible, its age and condition, date of purchase, the name, address, and telephone number of the dealer, and the sales price. With all of this information, the possibility of a return, if necessary, will be less difficult.
These suggestions, with luck, will allow you to be as happy a day or a week after the purchase as the day of the event itself. Happy hunting!