General Question

Jude's avatar

I would love to learn about antiques. Study/research/know all that I need to know about them; how do I get started?

Asked by Jude (32101points) August 22nd, 2011

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14 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Books A Million and read the books they have on Antiques 101.

It’s a great way to get started.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Is there a particular type that you are more interested in, e.g., furniture, china, silver?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Jude LOL, okay. You have to start somewhere though, and the process will be easier if you pick one area that really interests you. Will you humor me and toss out at least one category?

Jude's avatar

Art Deco!

wilma's avatar

Go to auctions, go to antique stores, ask questions, (like this one) go to museums.
Travel where the things that you like are popular.

JLeslie's avatar

Work at Sotheby’s or Christie’s maybe? You will learn just by being there. Maybe you can help out on auction days?

Cruiser's avatar

Go to antiques stores and talk with the owners. I have yet to find one who did not answer any question I had. Go to auctions and just look around and observe. Also this book Antiques 101 looks like a good starting point.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Go to South Beach Florida.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @Jude! Art Deco is a perfect example. It’s a start for learning about architecture, furnishings, art, knickknacks, vehicles, clothing, and jewelry while limited to a certain style and time period. Read up on Art Deco and learn the names of the designers using this style.

When you go to antique stores, take a digital camera and ask for permission to photograph anything of interest and jot down whatever information is available, including its maker’s mark. The internet will become your best buddy when it comes to researching an item’s authenticity unless you know a human expert.

Watching tv shows like Cash in the Attic and Antiques Road Show are helpful in learning how the condition of an item makes a difference on the potential price. They also are a good way to get a quick, top-line education on a lot of different antique categories.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

The way that I learned was just spending years going to antique markets, flea markets, the antiques and vintage shops in any city when I travelled. I always looked and asked questions and bought what interested me most. Sometimes, I made mistakes. Learning about what to buy (in the market) is half knowledge and half intuition. Meaning that you need both to figure out what may go up in value (if you are investing.) But always buy things that you love not just for investment.

There are other more formal ways of learning about antiques, too. The best way to learn about antiques is to look for “appraisal courses”. An appraiser has to learn all about antiques in order to appraise them.

Here is a small course: link

Here is a more formal course: link

Sotheby’s (in NY) and in London has courses as does Christie’s. These are considered to be the premier auction houses in the world. @Pied_Pfeffer also has some great tips. And don’t ever forget the value of looking at things on Ebay (!). Seriously, sometimes just by studying what is on offer helps. (For example: type in Art Deco lamps and then take a look at what people are selling. You can hone your eye that way…but don’t go by valuation on Ebay which is erractic and not always accurate.)

Other schools that run valuation courses:

Check out:

* The Courtauld Institute of Art – Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R ORN.
* Christie’s Education – 63 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3JS.
* Inchbald School of Design – 7 Eaton Gate, London SWl W 9BA.
* Sotheby’s Institute – 30 Oxford Street, London W1R lRE.
* Study Centre for the History of the Fine and Decorative Arts -21 Palace Gardens Terrace, London W8 4SA.
* The Victoria and Albert Museum – Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL.

And if Art Deco is your interest….then buy books on the subject to become versed in that era. I always carry a camera and a pad and pencil when I go to markets. Markets are my favorite places to go. Here in England there are lots of large markets and I sometimes go simply to browse because I am stunned at the age of things here as opposed to the US. One of my first purchases here was a beautiful Wedgwood vase with a small chip in it. The colors were beautiful. The woman was reluctant to sell it to me because it had a chip in it. I loved it…and it was reasonable. After I bought it, I asked, “When was this made, do you suppose?” (I wasn’t buying for the age, I liked the design.) She said, “That was made in 1810.” I just about dropped the vase then and there. It was very low priced. The same price I would have paid for a new (not nice) crystal vase in a department store today. I did the research later and sure enough, that vase was indeed, made around 1810.

It’s a great hobby…and I have loved it over the years. You will, too.

Where are you located? If you give us the general area, maybe some Jellies can point you to the local markets/shows/shops….?

marinelife's avatar

I agree with @john65pennington. Books are the way to go. Start with whatever genres you are interested in (furniture. glassware, pottery, etc.) and buy the definitive price guide after researching on the internet.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve always heard of the Kovels as being a good source, but I’ve never read any of their books.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

There are books specific to decades that will illustrate different trends within that decade for dress, furniture, art, architecture. From there, you’ll be able to distill down what you really want to research. It could be you like all things Art Deco but end up drawn mostly to high modern style versus organic or kitch.

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