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If one of your favorite things to do on the weekend is browse antique shops than you will find this post helpful. You might feel like it’s time to buy some of those things you’ve had your eye on for months, maybe a new cabinet or dining table. The thing is, do you know enough to part with a large sum of money? Whatever you are looking for in an antique you must do your research first:

There are a few tell-tale signs that what you’re looking at is a true piece of antique furniture. Keep an eye out for the following:

• Square nails: this can indicate age but be replicated
• Ornamentation applied by hand: signs of hand crafted workmanship rather than machine manufacture
• Specific styles, such as Art Deco, Victorian
• High-quality items: these cost more and are more likely to have been kept well
• Older wood should show variations in colors
• Joints within draws should be hand-made and unique angles: identical joints show a machine manufacture
• Evidence of wear/use: sometimes it’s simple sun bleaching while other times it’s how it has been used
• Very old wood shrinks slightly: look for odd measurements/uneven surfaces

How to Buy Antique Furniture and Other Collectables

Educate Yourself
If you’re really interested in learning about antique furniture, then reading up on your preferred style or era is a very important part of becoming a collector. Visit museums and antique dealers to get a feel for what’s out there. Ask questions and learn about specific pieces, time periods or art movements that you’re particularly interested in. If you can find someone with a collection of the similar piece you are interested in and look closely at them and even feel them to see how they should feel in your hands.

A great tip for anyone looking to buy genuine antiques is not just to know how it should look but how it should feel too, sometimes people try to replicate older pieces to con people into thinking they are genuine, even in the Victorian ages they replicated 16 century furniture, but you can tell from the feel as well as the look.

Sometimes doing your research on the symbols and markings applied to genuine pieces of pottery, jewelry or ornaments can help you decipher what is higher quality and what is not. It just depends on what area of antiques you’re interested in as to whether this would serve you during you’re searches. Pottery is a great example where knowing your Clarice Cliff from your Royal Worcester would be very helpful.

How to Buy Antique Furniture and Other Collectables

However, items such as furniture may be unmarked but this would not necessarily mean that this does or doesn’t have age or value. Sometimes great furniture manufacturers would be known by their style alone. Some printed a logo on the furniture and other would have branded the furniture with a symbol or sign that tied it to them as the maker. Furniture would be an expensive place to start with collecting antiques. For a novice, starting on something less likely to impact your pocket would be wiser.

Shopping for Antiques
The best and cheapest places to find antiques for less include table top sales and flea markets, estate sales, charity shops and classified ads. Sometimes the seller doesn’t even know that they have a true antique on their hands. If possible, take along a friend who knows a thing or two about antiques. They’ll be able to steer you toward what’s worth it and what’s not worth a penny.

Antique Shows
The next stop you should make is at a real deal antiques show. Keep in mind that the sellers at these shows know what they have and how much money their antiques are worth. While you may not find any huge savings at trade shows or antique malls, you can find pretty great items. Plus, if you’re looking for something specific, the antiques dealers should be able to point you in the right direction.

How to Buy Antique Furniture and Other Collectables

Shopping Online
When it comes to buying antiques online, it’s always difficult to know the condition of what you’re buying. If possible, try to visit the antique dealer in person to see the item before you pay. If you want to shop for antiques online, go ahead, it’s a great way to find tons of items you wouldn’t otherwise come across. However, search antique dealers within driving distance so you can look at everything in person before buying.

The most important tip for shopping for antiques is to buy something you actually like. No matter how valuable something is, if you can’t stand to look at it, it shouldn’t be sitting in your living room. Antique furniture comes with its own set of warnings. Always measure the space properly so the item fits well. It would be heartbreaking to find a piece and not be able to get it into your home.

How to Buy Antique Furniture and Other Collectables

There are many different reasons to own antiques. The most basic reason is many antiques are beautiful to look at. Others like owning something valuable from another era. No matter what your reason for wanting to invest in antiques, knowing how to shop is the key to spending your money wisely.

Written by William Robinson