Antiques 101 or So You Want to Collect Antiques

The collection of antiques is a noble hobby. An antique collector preserves our cultural history and helps us understand how decorative form is an indication of social and behavioral norms of the day. From kitchen appliances to parlor furniture, we are constantly reminded of our ancestors and how they managed their lives according to the world they inhabited.
Besides, antiques are really cool.
Antique furniture is often cheaper than new, good quality furniture.
Plus, it’s really easy to impress good behavior on children.
“Do not jump on that chair!”
“Why?”
“That chair was in use when Abraham Lincoln was president!”
The frisky child immediately ceases horseplay, awed by a new respect for the furniture. If that chair was around when Abraham Lincoln was in office, there is the distinct possibility that Abe Lincoln could have sat in that very chair! Thus emerges in their anarchic little hearts a picture of the past. They soon learn that a ladies chair had no arms in the 1860’s to accommodate the ridiculously huge skirts they wore. The gentleman’s chair had arms because gentlemen did not wear huge, extravagant skirts.
So, thus justified in your quest for outmoded objects, there are a few simple rules you must know.
1) It is not an antique unless it is 100 years old. Grandma might refer to her circa 1943 Duncan Phyfe style dining room set as antique but it is not. Do the math.
2) What is it worth? If you pick up a book that claims to represent the value of antiques, remember that a particular object sells for what someone will actually pay for it. Not what a dealer will pay for it. Not what the guy down the street will pay for it. Not what you’d pay for it. The price quoted in books is often more like what certain parties hope someone will pay for it.
3) True value is – what is it worth to you? That’s personal. That antique bisque girl with the pretty pink pleated skirt may be valued at $350.00 in your favorite magazine. But mine had her head knocked off by my dumb sister when she was carrying on with her hooligan friends and my mother glued it back on. So it is no longer worth $350.00. But I wouldn’t sell it for $500.00 because it belonged to my dear Auntie and I remember she kept it in that bow-front cabinet (whatever happened to that, Mommy?) in the dining room where nobody sat except Uncle Albert because we all sat in the kitchen.
4) A true antique should never be stripped, repainted, or refurbished as any alteration decreases its value. Unless it’s a wreck to begin with. If you buy an old oak table that some fool already ruined by smearing it up with that God-awful gunk they used to slop all over oak furniture – go ahead, make it look nice.
In other words, antique collections are personal, a reflection of your style, sometimes your ideals. Don’t expect to jump into antiques collecting to make money. That takes years of study. You need to develop an eye; that is, an instinctive understanding of quality and age. You also need to understand regional markets.
With these simple rules in mind, start collecting antiques. Buy what you love, make your home beautiful with the distinctive, unique style that can really make your house a home.

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