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Buying and Selling Antiques

  1. Antique: Definition No. 1: Antiques connoisseurs contend that true antiques ceased to be made when machines and manufacturing companies took over from individual craftsmen. Therefore, the connoisseur's definition reads: An antique is a piece made prior to the onset of the Industrial Revolution, or the years before 1820 and through 1840.
  2. Antique: Definition NO. 2: Legally, according to U.S. Customs, an antique must have been made "prior to 100 years before the date of entry."
  3. Most antiques wear their age well, even proudly. But an antique in poor condition and of inferior design, made from cheap materials and put together with shoddy craftsmanship, comes up short—especially when it comes to value.
  4. Antique: Definition No. 3: An antique is anything that belonged to you grandmother. Don't bank on it.
  5. The big push in collectibles began in the 1960s—partly because there weren't enough real antiques for all the wannabe collectors. What you learned in Economics 101 about supply and demand is as applicable to objects as it is to stocks and bonds. Conclusion: There are fewer antiques than collectibles. Go for the long term.
  6. Out-of-period is the term used in the antiques world to denote a piece that is an antique but was made several years after the original time frame of the design had passed. The term can be considered an exalted synonym for "style," as in the "Queen Anne style."
  7. By the late 1870s and 1880s, an entire set of living room, dining room, or bedroom furniture could be made in less time than it had taken an eighteenth-century craftsman to make just one piece of furniture by hand. The same thing can be said about most china pottery, silver, and bric-a-brac.
  8. When talking about a particular piece that was made out-of-period, but is a faithful copy of an earlier style and has passed the magical century mark, casually mention its date. "How much are you asking for the late nineteenth-century Queen Anne-style chair? Mentioning the date shows everyone that you know what you're talking about.
  9. A reproduction is an honest, recently made piece that has been copied from an earlier design and that was never intended to deceive the public into thinking it was an antique. A faithful copy is one that follows the original design line for line, inch for inch, material for material, decoration for decoration. These pieces are generally of fine quality and hold their value through the years.
  10. Common sense has more to do with successful antique collecting than you might imagine. Caution is always advised. When passion is ready to overtake you, say to yourself, "be still my heart." Then go about your job methodically, but always hoping for the best.
  11. Not sure whether a piece is a true antique? Look around. If the same piece shows up in lots of different places, you can be almost positive that it's a copy.
  12. The information printed on a price tag can be a real clue as to how much the shop owner knows about the piece. When the description is as sparse as "old chair," you can bet that you probably know as much about the chair as the seller. And after you finish this book, lots more.
  13. Reputable dealers will take back any item that is found to be other than what it was stated to be. This is no different from a retail store accepting a return on faulty merchandise.
  14. Before opening your wallet for the broken piece, find out how much an unbroken one costs and how much the repairs will cost.
  15. In today's busy world, you may not have lots of shopping time. In that case, getting a "steal" isn't your main motive. Getting the object for your collection at a fair price is.
  16. Really savvy flea market shoppers always head straight for the new kid on the block. It's the one-time seller who is most likely to bring treasures from the attic or basement to sell at the flea market.

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