Tips for Antiques and Collections

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See details of Sandy’s home in New Hampshire.

Finding Good Stuff

Sandy Wells likes to frequent the York Antiques Gallery (207-363-5002, yorkantiquesgallery.com) in York, Maine, but otherwise prefers to attend New Hampshire and Vermont antiques shows. “High-quality dealers tend to save their best stuff for those shows,” she says. She especially enjoys Antiques Week in Manchester, New Hampshire, held during the first week of August each year.

For a complete list of antiques shows and auctions, as well as feature stories and book reviews related to the antiques business, Sandy recommends the Maine Antique Digest. This monthly paper is available at many newsstands, or you can subscribe by calling 800-752-8521.

Sandy’s Tips

1. Purchase from reputable dealers. (This is especially important if you’re new to the world of antiques.) Not only can you usually trust what you buy from them, but they can educate you about how to discern what’s authentic. It’s not always easy to determine which dealers are reputable, according to Lincoln Sander, executive director of the Antiques Dealers Association of America. His advice is to use common sense, do some research, and ask whether the dealer will document the history of an expensive piece as well as guarantee the merchandise in writing.

2. Go to as many antiques shows as you can, and look, look, look. This is the best way to educate yourself.

3. Buy what you love.

4. Don’t necessarily hold on to all your collections. That’s part of the secret of avoiding clutter. A no-longer-loved item in your own home may make the perfect accent piece in the home of a friend.

5. Make sure you can see and display the things you love. If you have too much, many objects will wind up languishing in storage.

6. Move things around. You’ll get a new appreciation for them. You get used to looking at things where they are, and after a while you no longer see them.

7. Be careful of color combinations when you display your antiques. Make sure things actually go together. It’s okay to mix contemporary with old, though — it can create a distinctive and refreshing effect.

8. Try not to scatter collection items throughout the house. They’ll be more attractive and orderly looking if presented together.

9. Avoid cramming items together, though. Try to keep a clean look, letting your special items show themselves off while not overwhelming the eye.

10. Insure valuable items, listing them individually.

  • Can anyone recommend a reputable dealer that would give a fair price on items to be sold? I know there are many dealers out there, but I don’t know how to find one. Thank you..

  • If the company that makes what you collect still exists, such as Fenton, check to see if they have a website. Often, you can sign up for a free newsletter online, that will tell you of any shows or exhibits coming up, also, tell you what pieces are worth and the history behind them.
    Check libraries. You’d be amazed, at the number of books are written about practically anything from furniture to glassware to toys to tools that can be collected! If you find one book particularly helpful, regarding price and worth and info on condition and care, it might be worth seeing if you can buy a copy at a bookstore or online.

  • The article is excellent, but I would like a more in depth article.
    Maybe in a future issue?


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