Collecting Antiques: Top Tips for Beginners

Sunday 17th July 2022 - Cara Bentham


Collecting Antiques: Top Tips for Beginners

Collecting antiques can be incredibly rewarding but where to start?

Collecting antique and vintage items is becoming increasingly popular, both as a hobby and for investment purposes. If you’re new to antiques and want to start your own collection, it can be a bit daunting at first because there’s a lot to learn. Knowledge is key when it comes to antiques and collectibles. You need to be sure the items you’re purchasing are authentic and reasonably priced.


Our top tips will help you get started:


1. Choose something you have a genuine interest in

When starting out, it’s best to choose one area of focus for your collection. You will need to do lots of studying to ensure you know what to buy and what to pay for it. Selecting a niche will give you a specific area of focus for your research so you don’t get overwhelmed. Demand for specific collectibles will always waver so it’s not advisable to choose your niche based on what is currently in demand, or valuable. Instead, choose something that you have a genuine interest in, or passion for, as this will motivate you to learn everything there is to know about it. It will also make the process of buying and selling much more fun!


2. Learn the history

One of the great things about antiques and collectibles is that they help us to learn about history. Once you have chosen your niche, begin to learn the history behind it. An in-depth knowledge of the history will help you to date items, recognise special pieces and spot inauthentic items.


3. Understand the factors that affect an items value

As with brand new items, sellers can ask whatever they like for antiques and collectibles. However, that doesn’t mean the item is worth that much. Ensure you have a good understanding of the value of collectibles within your niche, and keep tabs on market fluctuations over time. The following factors can significantly impact the value of an item:

Age – how old is the item?
Rarity – how many of the item were originally produced and how many are currently known to exist?
Condition – is the item in good condition or does it bare significant damage or wear and tear?
Provenance – what do you know about the item's history that makes it significant?
Quality – is the item well made, with good quality materials and craftsmanship?

4. Learn how to spot fakes

It’s devastating to pay a lot of money for an item only to discover later that it’s fake and effectively worthless. To help prevent this, take some time to learn how to spot a fake. The tell-tale signs will vary depending on the items you are collecting so be sure to get clued up on the common signs within your niche. If an item looks too new or bares signs of modern manufacturing, it’s probably not genuine. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.


5. Be patient

Collecting antiques and vintage items can be a lifetime hobby. Be patient with yourself as there is a lot to learn. Understand that sometimes the best way to learn is through your own mistakes, so don’t be hard on yourself if you make some along the way. Knowledge will come over time and through experience so enjoy the journey – you don’t have to know everything there is to know right away.


If you already know what you're looking for, and even if you don't, check out the incredible selection of items available through our auctioneers here.