Friday, May 25, 2012
If you have the collector's bug, buying antiques is not just a leisure activity, but a need. And if you are just a casual buyer sometimes engaging in what is called in some quaint little towns "antiquing," you might want to pay attention to these rules as well because they can save you some serious troubles.
First of all, do not buy antiques online. You have to be able to hold, feel and touch, even smell the item you are considering buying because fake antiques are as common as household pests. Ascertaining that an item is indeed over a hundred years old, which is what determines antique status, does of course not mean the asking price is justified, but it is nevertheless much needed reassurance that you are at least in the right ball park.
Furthermore, you want to know who you are dealing with. Does the antique dealer come across as a knowledgeable and helpful individual with an obvious respect for the antiques he has in his store, or do you sense something not quite right about him? In either case, to be on the safe side, you should always ask to see if they are part of a trade association.
Never just agree to the price asked, nor hold back your questions. You want the seller to be absolutely positive about the origin, age, and value of the item you are considering buying, and if the seller proclaims he is uncertain about any of those things, let it go and move on. And once you do agree to a price, see if you can get it further reduced by paying cash.
Always ask if the item has been damaged at some point, and restored. Depending on the damage and how much was restored, you might want to pass on this purchase. And, by the way, the seller is not obligated to tell you about previous damage and restoration. If you don't ask the question, you might never know until you try to resell it and have it professionally appraised.
The bottom line is, ask all the questions you want, and then some. If you just assume something is an antique but you never asked, you will not have any recourse before the law.
Ebay has a whole site dedicated to antiques.