Collecting antiques is a great way to spruce up the home and play detective uncovering rare collectables that can’t be found at a home décor shop.
It’s a fun and interesting hobby for people of all ages – you have the opportunity to decorate your home with unique and interesting pieces and can even learn a bit of history in the process.
From antique fairs to specialist shops and brokers, there’s lots of ways to get involved with antiques and if you have a keen eye you’ll be able to quickly build up your collection in no time.
Start with your interests
When starting out with antiques the best place to begin is with your interests. Many people make the mistake of collecting what they believe are one-of-a-kind items, only to get home and realise they have no want or need for what they’ve purchased.
Instead, collectors often gravitate towards historical figures or particular time periods – it’s a great start point and can help you stay focused as you start to understand the vast range of what’s available to you when looking for antiques. Jewellery, clothing, furniture and artwork all gather a lot of interest, but at the end of the day it all comes down to your personal taste. If you’re in need of inspiration as you set out, magazines like Country Living offer a guide on what to collect as you begin.
Antique fairs in the UK
Visiting an antique fair is a great way to meet new vendors and get a feel for your own personal style when it comes to buying antiques. Most collectors go out with a budget or item in mind and target specific stalls and vendors to find what they want.
All over the UK there are events year round you can visit. Newark is home to Europe’s largest antique fair and every other month has some 2,5000 stalls selling collectables for interested buyers. The event is hosted by the International Antiques & Collectors Fairs, who also organise several other fairs throughout the year.
If you’re looking for an antique fair close to home, resources like this calendar of events from Antiques Atlas will allow you to search by day or region to find an event that suits you.
Valuing your antiques
By definition, antiques are collectables that are desired because of their age and rarity. Many people keep antiques in the home because they are of personal significance – original period features in a home or items that have been passed through the family for many years. Just because an item is called an antique doesn’t make it valuable, which is why valuation is an important aspect of this popular hobby.
A good auction house or vendor will be able to tell you the history of the item you intend to purchase and how much it’s worth before you buy it. In some cases when you’re buying and selling – particularly at independent antique fairs – you’ll need to do your own research to make sure each piece is worth the investment.
If you have items of your own you’d like to sell, or simply want to know the value of, you can hire an independent expert to help value your antique collectables. Online, websites like Value My Stuff will do the same job quickly by uploading a photo. Once you understand the value of an item, you can set to negotiating a price with a vendor or potential buyer that you’re both comfortable with.
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