This is my first news column for my updated website. I intend to write a column each month and I encourage comments. The more interactive this site, the more beneficial this is for everyone.
Today’s Subject; Purchasing Antiques.
Unless you are an expert, one must be more wary than ever when purchasing antiques. The Chinese are now so good at reproductions, and unfortunately, also so cunning, that today they can fool even people with knowledge. For example, I was fooled on a brass ink well. They are doing such good brass reproductions these days that I no longer buy brass inkwells.
Moreover, some dishonest ones are even forging names on certain items. E.g. famous jewellery designer’s names stamped onto copies of their iconic vintage jewellery pieces.
Likewise, be wary of purchasing antiques on Ebay or other internet sites. Even if the seller is honest, many don’t have the knowledge and unintentionally misrepresent what they are selling. I am very careful when using the internet for either sales or purchases due to this fact. One example; I recently paid for a Whitby Jet brooch which turned out to be Vulcanite of a far lesser value. It seems that many people cannot tell the difference between Vulcanite and Jet although they are generally a different color, Vulcanite being a rubberized brown substance from trees and Jet being fossilized black coal from beneath the ground.
Misrepresentations by inexperienced Mum and Pop sellers are common. Often the pieces have been handed down to them and they don’t have accurate knowledge of the provenance. It’s always good to check how many items they have sold and how good their reviews and ratings are.
If you intend purchasing an antique of considerable value, ask if it has an appraisal. Or, if you are fortunate enough to have a friend in the antiques business, offer to buy them lunch if they will accompany you to look at the intended purchase.
If you use Paypal for internet purchases you can usually get a refund if there is a problem but the time and hassle involved, plus the cost of mailing the item back makes for a less than satisfying experience.
As for purchases from Antique stores, many times the items are on consignment and the salesperson you are dealing with may not be the owner and may not have accurate information of the item. If the purchase is of high value, it is always best to talk to the owner if possible. Additionally, I always ask for the verbal information the salesperson has provided me with to be written onto my receipt. If there was a printed description card with the item while displayed in the showcase, I also ask if I may have that.
Regardless of all the precautions, one must take, it is an exhilarating experience to find and purchase a beautiful antique. The pleasure is in the hunt and the satisfaction is knowing you have something that is probably rare these days.
Happy hunting friends…until next time.