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Top Ten Golden Rules for Buying and Collecting Antiques
Part 2

Continued from our previous Article.

6. My sixth rule is to do with the condition of an item and the likely cost implications of any repair or restoration necessary to bring it up to an acceptable standard. Try to buy objects that are in as good a condition as possible and be very careful of the wording in the catalogue description if the item is an auction lot. Lookout for words in the description such as, 'after' so-and-so in design, or 'in the style of...', or 'similar to...'. These distractions confirm any suspicions that the item is a fake, possibly a forgery and at the very least, not original. These are areas of the Trades Description Act that are not open to interpretation and the way an item is described must be real and true. Nevertheless, note that unless you build into your own price estimate the likely cost of restoration, you could easily end up spending more for the item than it is worth, even at resale. This is why the research you do on an item will never be wasted time. The old saying "Caveat Emptor" - let the Buyer Beware, is never more true than in the antiques world!

7. As a side note to rule six, while Caveat Emptor has a long history in common law, I quite like the new Consumer Rights version, Caveat Venditor. Literally meaning Seller Beware, the saying purports that the Seller is much more knowledgeable about an item (after-all he/she did buy it with the likely prospect of making a profit and so it may be assumed knows more about it than the prospective purchaser) and therefore must bear responsibility for protecting an unwary purchaser. Whilst there may be a certain poetry about the idea, don't rely on it when you realize you've bought a dud.
So rule seven can quite legitimately recommend that you buy items that are well made, have a fairly easily proven provenance, and are representative of the time in which they were made.

8. It's always tempting to 'go with the flow' and buy things that are in vogue at the moment. The trouble is that that is the trouble. A vogue is now, not yesterday and certainly not tomorrow. Rule eight is about not following a fashion, paying the inflated price of that fashion and watching the price fall as the next fashion takes over.
I've lost track of the number of times you see an item on a TV program, such as The Antiques Roadshow, or see a glossy picture of a fine piece of pottery in the Millers Annual Antiques Guides, only to come across it, or something similar, at an antiques fair and with a price tag twice its actual value, just because it's 'in vogue'. Some even have the audacity to advertise the item, "As seen on Antiques Roadshow", as if that justifies the exorbitant price. The fact is, some unlucky person will be suckered in and regret it in fairly short order.
Self preservation and instinct will serve you better if you stick to your own area of expertise.

9. Rule nine? Always, always, always ask and obtain a proper receipt. This is not only useful to establish ownership, it may be necessary for probate, the tax office, your insurance company or the police may want it should, heaven forbid, the item ever get stolen. Your receipt will need to contain the following information: (a) The date. (b) The complete name, address and telephone number of the seller. (c) A full and complete description of the item ('a pair of candlesticks' isn't good enough!) (d) Whenever it's important, make sure any damaged or worn areas are also noted and also the date estimate of its origins (i.e. circa 1895). (e) And finally the price you paid. You should also note for yourself the method of payment, credit card, cash, or cheque.
Mostly, an auction house or antique shop owner will give you most of this information without asking. Your main problem will be at 'car boot sales' or 'antique fairs' where stall owners all to often turn up without a proper receipt book or even a piece of paper to write any sales on. Take your own paper and get them to write it out, or you write it out and get them to sign it. At car boots sales, I even surreptitiously write down the registration number of the car driven by that table owner. Believe me, you'll be glad you took the trouble one day!!

10. My last rule is simple; Only ever buy something you really, really like!

Needless to say I have kept the collections I made as a youth, why would I not? They sit in the attic, in fairly ornate, and incredibly old, biscuit tins, whose value is probably much higher than any of the contents, mainly as a reminder of the B.S. of youthful folly.

Happy Collecting

Author: Phil Chave
URL: www.antiquecollector.uk.com

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