The art of collecting antiques
Learning how to collect antiques is a hobby that opens the door to the past. One of the first questions you may find yourself asking is what exactly counts as an antique. Technically, an antique is an item that is at least 100 years old. Antique collecting is an appealing hobby because it offers the enthusiast the fun and excitement of hunting for rare and valuable treasures.
As long as there has been a written history, there have been those who collected artifacts. Religious artifacts were probably the first category of sought after antiques during the 16th century. Personal antique collecting, however, began to flourish in Europe and the United States in the 18th century, where archaeological finds and pieces of art were the main focus. Manuscripts, old books, and the possessions of the famous were also highly prized.
During the 20th century, new categories of antique collecting sprang up. These included collecting stamps, china, silver, jewelry, clocks, cars, political memorabilia, teddy bears, and bottles. Nearly anything that is old or rare is considered worthy of collecting by someone. Today, millions who love history and strive to keep the past alive engage in antique collecting.
If you are learning how to collect antiques, start with a narrow focus. Choose one or two categories that interest you. Learn everything you can about the items, the time period, and current auction prices. Whether you choose to collect antique toys or firearms, furniture or china, start small.
Research in your chosen avocation is necessary. There are numerous books, magazines, and web sites about collecting antiques and collectibles. Learn the value of the different items, how to spot reproduction and other vital information that applies to your particular pursuit.
After you have chosen your subject and done your research, it’s time to go shopping. Great places to start are garage sales and flea markets. Estate sales can be wonderful sources of antiques. If you are collecting rare or old items, however, you will likely have more success at an antique or collector show. Visit the local antique stores in your area. Get to know the dealers and talk to then about your collection. Antique dealers are typically part of a small, close-knit community. Once you get to know them, they will be happy to assist you in finding the items you are searching for.
When you buy an item, it may be necessary to clean or repair it. Learn how to safely clean your collectible without causing further damage. Some types of antiques should not be cleaned at all. Coins should not be cleaned because cleaning lowers the value. Other items may call for special handling or professional restorers. Antique furniture may require special conditioners to restore the wood’s beauty, as is often the case if the piece has been stored improperly. When in doubt, consult your collector’s books, research online, or talk to someone in your antique community.
Visit your local antique mall to find what you are looking for. Even if you can’t find an item, you will get to know dealers and form a relationship with like-minded people who will be on the lookout for something you desire.