Have you ever kicked yourself for not buying something you loved? – I have, and once it’s gone, it is gone…
What do you look for when Treasure Hunting?? Do you look for Nostalgia? Craftsmanship? Visual? Functional? Whatever you look for, buy what you love and for how it makes you feel, whatever the emotion evoked.
Depending on where you are buying there are few things to be mindful of, if you’re just starting your relationship with antique buying and are at fairs or flea markets, try and keep your mind open. Don’t get bogged down with looking for one thing unless you are collecting something very specific. And don’t feel the pressure to buy something as you may well come away with just anything as you felt the pressure to buy. Sometimes you just have to walk away and keep on hunting.
Here are a few of my key tips for Treasure Hunting...
Tip #1 - The right places
Looking in the right places... Antique and vintage items are sold in a number of places:
Antique shops - Throughout the UK, there are hundreds of brilliant independent antique shops. Some villages and towns are renowned for having whole streets of Antique Shops - check out this great article on the best Antique Towns and Villages in the UK.
Antique centres can be a great hunting ground where you can see many dealers’ wares under one roof. However if you are looking to strike a deal this can sometimes be difficult as the centres can’t bargain on their dealer’s behalf.
Auctions / Sale Rooms - Nothing beats a live auction like a live auction... they give you the opportunity to inspect the objects before they go up for auction, asking any questions about their condition or heritage. Beware though of being swept up in the moment - set your limit and stick to it.
Online auction sites are very popular, especially since Covid-19, as they remove the geographical limitations of a traditional auction and increase the target audience. Be cautious of the limitations of buying online, without being able to handle something in person, you could be buying a fake. Only bid on authorised and trusted sites. Warning watch out for commission costs as these can be really high, like 22/23% which really bumps up the cost of what you are buying and needs to be considered. Plus... don't forget to include the delivery costs!
Antique Fairs - Antique or Vintage fairs make for a great day out for all the family! You can browse from an abundance of different traders and enjoy a good haggle!
Flea Markets & Car Boot Sales - If you’re up for a bit of treasure hunting Flea Markets & Car Boot Sales can be a great place to get started. Remember though, the early bird catches the worm, so make sure you get there bright and early to get the best pick of what's on offer.
Bric-a-brac & Charity Shops - Common on every high street Bric-a-brac & Charity Shops are a great place to pick up a treasure. You never know what you might find when rummaging around, but beware often antiques are vetted by local antique dealers before they make it into the shop window. It is however worth having a look around to see if anything jumps out at you.
Tip #2 - Know what you are looking at
If you are concerned about knowing whether something is antique or vintage, there are few tell-tale signs to look out for. Post 1930 could be a reproduction, which is fine if that’s what it’s being sold as but it won’t be as well made or have the character of years of love and wear.
Look at the construction and finish of the piece, examine all sides and surfaces of the piece. Look at the joinery. Are drawers dove-tailed? Are they all the same, or do they appear to be cut by hand?
Tip #3 - Tell tale signs to look out for
When looking at items of age there will often be a makers mark or a year stamped on it somewhere. Danger signs... Look out for chipboard, plywood, staples and Phillips (Cross head) screws, antiques or vintage things are usually made before these were invented!
Tip #4 - How much is an item worth??
Knowing how much an items worth is a hard one. This generally boils down to what you are willing to pay – how much do you love it and you want to own it! A dealer will have bought an item at a price and they will add a mark up on that price that covers their costs (collection, storage, restoration and delivery) and a profit margin. Depending on where you are buying the item from depends on how much negotiation there may be in a price.
Tip #5 - Striking a deal
When looking at the price tag you may see on some cryptic looking markings - these are the dealers notes. If you see a T- figure, this is the amount the dealer is willing to trade on its marked price. If you see NT then you know that they are not willing to knock anything off!
Remember... Sometimes you just have to walk away and keep on hunting.
Don’t be shy, ask lots of questions and don't be afraid to pick things up and look at them in detail. But if it doesn't feel right or the price is too high just walk away and keep on looking... Happy Hunting!
Looking for something special: Check out my collection