The right piece of antique furniture can add something otherworldly to your home. Antiques are at once timeless, sophisticated and grounding, connecting us to life in another time. However, the world of antiques, can also be intimidating to a newcomer.
With the right dealership, it doesn’t have to be. So we have compiled this handy guide to help you find the right dealership for you, whatever you are looking for.
Antiques & Specialist fields
Every dealership will have specialities, as the world of arts and antiques, is extremely diverse. After all, we are talking about the history of creative output of every type of item.
In the world of antique furniture alone, there is real diversity. A dealership might specialise in anything from true antique periods such as Rococo or Regency, to popular design periods like Mid Century Modern, from Swedish to Arts and Crafts, from Art Deco to Shabby Chic, to name but a few.
For example, here at Nimbus Antiques, we specialise in higher end, and finely crafted British and Continental antique furniture. We are a go-to dealerships for the finest in Georgian, Victorian, and revival antiques.
So step one, before you find the right dealer, is knowing what it is that you are looking for.
Is it antique furniture? If so what eras and design movements resonate with you personally? Finding this out is an exciting journey.
A good dealership should be able to guide you on such matters and provide options.
Do Your Research
This can save you a good deal of time. If you are hoping to find antiques at a particular location, or event, it is well worth reading up and finding out what specialities will be present.
Many of the fairs and dealerships in the urban locations for example, tend to specialise more in smaller household items, or jewellery.
So if you are after that one set of drawers to bring some class to an otherwise modern bedroom, you really need a dealership or event specialising in the right styles of antique furniture, rather than a generalised antiques event.
Creating looks with Antiques
Perhaps you are interested in antiques more generally? In which case it is a great idea to go to a wide range of dealerships and events to get a feel for this new exciting world. That way you can learn about what you like before buying.
However if what you are after is using an antique statement piece to create a strong look within your home, then it is more likely a dealership like Nimbus that you require.
Once you have worked out what it is that will best compliment your style, taste and home, finding a dealership that shares your taste and passion is a must.
Don’t be afraid to take your time in working out what works for you, that way when you do make that special purchase, you will be truly thrilled and make a decision that will stand the test of time.
Buying Antiques – Transparency
When buying antiques, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. It is important to understand the whole process from buying to transportation, and to feel clear about everything from handling to aftercare.
A reputable dealer will be more than happy to help. We even create guides to help our customers, should they think of questions later on, such as our handy guide to Caring For Antiques
Transparency is key, and the staff at a dealership should be honest about what they know about the provenance, and history of a piece. Also about what they don’t know, and can perhaps find out for you. They should also be honest about the condition of a piece.
That is one of the advantages of buying from a dealership over an auction and even sometimes at a fair. The pressure is off, and you are able to converse directly. You have the opportunity to ask questions, and to think about the purchase. It removes a degree of uncertainty.
Although fairs and auctions have a different kind of appeal, when you are looking for something specific, or fall in love with an item, it is very useful to have a trained expert at hand, that you can trust.
A dealership, if long standing, will undoubtedly employ and train experts within their particular areas of speciality. So don’t be afraid to make use of that expertise and to build a rapport with a dealership.
Experts are passionate about their field, so will most likely be generous with advise.
Antiques Trade associations
Unfortunately there are a few charlatans in the world of antiques. Finding a dealership or dealer with trusted premises, who is a member of a trade association is one way to avoid rogues, as all of the members are carefully vetted by experts in the field.
The two main antiques trade associations in the United Kingdom are LAPADA and BADA.
Membership of one of these associations is a rubber stamp of reliability. If a dealership isn’t a member of one of these associations, then proceed with caution. Of course, not all members will be the right dealership for you, you need to follow your own instincts, but it is a good thing to check.
Experienced collectors advise going to dealerships with a strong tradition behind them, as if they have been around in their community for a number of years, not only is it a sign that they are trusted, but they will have built up a wealth of knowledge.
How much should Antiques cost?
The pricing of Antiques is no arbitrary affair. The cost of an item is influenced by a wide range of factors, from scarcity, fashions for certain periods and items, designers and design movements.
The materials used, the condition of the piece, it’s demonstrated provenance, and of course the quality of the workmanship, will also all effect pricing.
An antiques dealer is an expert in understanding all of the factors that effect pricing. If they are reputable, they will price in a way that is competitive yet fair.
Be polite, but do not be afraid to ask questions about pricing. There will be reasons why one item is move valuable than another. These differences are not always obvious to eye of a novice straight away.
Learning about antiques is like learning about any rich field of understanding. By asking questions we learn and develop greater discerning.
When dealing with reputable dealerships, it is important not to try to haggle too hard. It will be fairly insulting. They will know their speciality inside out, and price accordingly. But if you take the time to build a positive relationship, they will work hard to help you source the right piece for you, within your budget.
Only Buy Antiques That You Love
Even if your aim is to buy for investment, we cannot emphasis enough, the importance of buying items that you love, especially when you are starting out. Buy what you are passionate about, or can really see lighting up a room in your house.
A good dealership will emphasise this. If you buy what you love regardless of market trends and changes in fashion, you will never feel disappointed.
If you fall in love with a piece, but it is a little out of your price range at the time, learn why it is valued as it is from the dealership, and perhaps save up, or aim to get something in that style later on.
Remember one fantastic piece that is of very high quality, can really set a room off, rather than 2 or 3 pieces of a lower calibre. So one strategy is to invest in one very special piece for one room in the house, and to build up over time.
For certain styles, such as Sheraton or Hepplewhite for example, if you love the original design era, but can’t yet afford pieces from the original period, why not discuss looking at pieces from revival periods with your dealership?
Revival pieces can be extremely beautiful and highly sort after, and the perfect entry into the world of antiques, while you gather the funds and learn the ropes.
Make sure that any known details about restoration, provenance, or any other information regarding the authentication of the piece are included on, or with, the invoice.
This will not only help to maintain and increase the value of the item, but is a momento that helps to keep the item’s story alive. A reputable dealer will be happy to include this.
Trustworthy Antiques Dealers
Finally the most important thing is to feel instinctually that you can trust the dealership. Though this is a personal thing, so if you find it hard we have created a list of tips for finding a trustworthy antiques dealer.
Top Tips For Finding A Trustworthy Antiques Dealer
They should be:
- Friendly, open and willing to answer questions.
- Transparent about pricing, transportation, and any other matters regarding the purchase.
- A specialist in the field.
- Willing to provide a proper invoice/paperwork relating to the piece.
- Have a long standing reputation if possible.
- You should feel safe, and clear about the process.
- A dealership that mirrors your tastes and passions.
- A member of a reputable trade association such as LAPADA or BADA.