Collecting 102 – Where do I get antiques?

So, you are interested in starting a collection or giving a unique gift for somebody you care. You have your field of interest well defined, and you are ready to make the first move towards entering the world of antiques. The first question that comes to your mind is – where can I get myself an antique? There are a few options that you might consider; we will list in this article the pros and cons of every method.

Auction houses

Auction houses are where the community of antique buyers gathers. We will talk more about auction houses in another chapter but we will try and give you a fair idea on what’s happening in these mysterious buildings.
Now I’d like to debunk some myths about auction houses that you probably believe in. The first thing that comes to mind when this institutions are mentioned is a hall full of billionaires bidding and rising the price of that Van Gogh’s painting for a million each bid. Granted, most of the items on auctions tend to be a bit more expensive but you can find a lot of cheaper items too, so there is something for everyone. Up to now you may have believed that you have to be a multimillionaire and you can’t get in an auction house “just like that”.  These institutions are not (exclusively) visited by the 1% and all you need to do is go to the house’s website to see the terms of sale. Please keep in mind that policies of auction houses vary from house to house so take a moment to read the terms and conditions of sale. Some houses require a deposit to participate while some require membership, and others are free for everyone to participate. Usually auction houses give you assurances that items for sale are original.

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Sold!

Pros: Items that are posted for sale have strong claims of authenticity and (usually) anti-fraud insurance.
You can meet some people that share your interest.
Bidding and winning an item is a very interesting and an extremely satisfactory experience!

Cons: This is where items are sold for the highest price in respect of all the other acquisition methods.
Specialized auctions don’t have a lot of variety and there is a lot of competition.
Sales taxes and auction house fees (after the sale) can be very high.
Sellers are anonymous and trying to strike a deal with them might be against policy or even illegal, depending on the country and regulations.
Auctions are held a few times a year, depending on the house.

Antique shops

The first thing that may come to mind when one thinks about antique shops is a place where overpriced old furniture is sold. That’s incorrect, as most of the antique shops specialize in a specific sort of items. In old bookshops you can (naturally) find books, however, engravings and manuscripts are also common. In art galleries paintings, graphics and similar items can be found. Usually shop owners tend to be connected with other owners that have different sorts of items, so it does not hurt to ask the owner if you are looking for something in particular, he might find it for you or direct you to someone else that might have the item that you would like to buy. Usually, it takes a degree of knowledge about everything on the market to start a shop, so shopkeepers tend to know many things outside their area of expertise.

Pros: It’s very rare to find a fake in an antique shop, for the reputation of the shop owner is at stake.
You can get connected to other sellers that will do what they can to find the item that you are looking for.

Cons: If abroad, take good care of the customs regulation of the country you are in. You might have bought an item that’s illegal to export without proper paperwork. Ask the owner of the shop about this before purchase!
If you want a receipt you are not allowed to haggle.
The more prominent the shop is, the more overpriced the items will be, be warned!

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Internet shops

At first, selling antiques through the internet may sound somewhat unsafe and unorthodox. That’s the case because there are not too many antique shops online and they tend not to advertise. Now let’s see what kind of sellers are there on the web. There are two kinds of sellers of the internet –users of platforms like EBay, Amazon etc., and private sellers. Usually the latter have their website as an extension of their shops with the same items that are for sale in the shops. The difference is that if you order an item by an online store you have to pay the shipping and handling expenses. In most of the cases you will get a receipt along with your item as a proof of purchase and ownership. If you don’t get the receipt, don’t be alarmed- that’s done so as to avoid making you pay for sales taxes if the item has to go through customs so you save time and money.
Platform users might or might not have a store in the real world, but their rating on the platform is what’s important about them. Platforms are very safe to use since the buyer is protected by the platform’s policies. For example, on EBay the buyer can return the item within 14 days of the delivery and get the money back. The feedback system on the platforms is a good indicator of the store’s quality and trustworthiness and that’s the thing that you always have to keep in mind while purchasing items. If you know the seller, you might ask them for a discount. Usually platform sellers will give you a discount if you pay for the item off the platform. That is against policy and you don’t have the insurance but you might get items cheaper since a large percentage of the sale goes to the platform. Don’t expect platform sellers to give you a receipt, as you have the transaction ID on PayPal or on your bank account record.  While buying from a platform store, please read carefully the item specifics, you don’t want to end up buying a reprint of something thinking it’s the original (even if stated otherwise).

Pros: Buyers are protected from fraud by the platform.
You can always ask if the seller has more from where that came from.
You can buy items that are not listed for a cheaper price if you know your seller.
The seller’s rating is the assurance of trustworthiness.
Haggling is an option for certain items.

Cons: Shipping expenses, sales taxes and customs charges can give you a nasty surprise when the cost is concerned, as these are the so called “hidden expenses”.
Sometimes items can get stuck in in transit ie waiting to be cleared through customs.

Reminder:  Sigedon Books and Antiques will never charge the buyer hidden expenses, as price and shipping expenses are clearly stated in the item specifics and there are no additional fees that the buyer has to pay. A buyer’s trust should never be betrayed in such a manner.

 

Марко Миловановић
Marko Milovanović

 

Picture 1 taken from http://www.thefactsite.com/

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