Antique shopping tips – part one
It takes a special set of skills to master the art of antiquing. These skills are cultivated by research, practice in the field, patience, and training your eye to recognize quality. It takes time to learn the ropes and even experts are always looking to expand their knowledge.
To help you become the most informed connoisseur, read on for some advice by category and refer to these tips the next time you hit the antique shops!
Trust your gut here. If it looks new, it most likely is. Pay close attention to the nails: newer, shinier nails indicate new construction. The presence of dovetail joints, which hold wood furnishings together without the use of nails or other hardware is a sign that a piece was made by a cabinetmaker as opposed to being mass-produced or factory made. Be sure to inspect the hardware. Get a good look at drawer pulls and any other hardware. For pulls, the inside of the drawer should reveal a post-and-nut construction if it’s truly vintage. Also, a refinished piece might look clean and shiny but updating wood furniture can diminish its value.
By looking at the knots you can perform the origin, style, dye technique. A lot of factors can affect the price of a vintage rug. One feature that can help you determine quality without the help or knowledge of an expert is knot count. In most cases, a tighter knot, meaning more knots per square inch, translates to higher quality. Flip a rug over and check the back to get a clear picture of its knotting. As a rule, stay away from untied edges and excessive fraying. Handmade rugs are woven so it’s likely that once a loose end exists, it’s only a matter of time before it all unravels. Don’t be afraid of other imperfections. A vintage rug is unlikely to be in perfect condition. Think of uneven piling, discoloration, or slight wear and tear as beauty marks that only add to the charm and history of the piece.
Print reproductions are made with tiny dots meant to mimic the brushstrokes of the original artwork. This isn’t to say prints aren’t worth buying but it’s good to know what you are getting to avoid overpaying. The web of fine cracks that appear on the surface of aged paintings is called craquelure. Craquelure denotes authenticity and is highly sought after by art collectors. The quality, condition, and appearance of a work’s framing can help to date the piece. Look for artworks or frames by themselves. While it is certainly convenient to buy ready-to-hang artwork, some of the best deals can be round on unframed artworks or empty frames.