A summer has come and gone, and now that the days are getting cooler it feels like the right time to start blogging again. Blogging in earnest. Blogging more than once a month.
I decided to ease into this whole communication thing by outlining some of the reasons I buy antiques – specifically why I think antiques are a good bang for your buck. I am speaking from the point of view of a new collector with limited funds. Although I grew up with antiques I do not consider myself an expert buyer. I usually ask a lot of questions, get advice from sources I trust, and (most importantly) go with what I love. I do not have a vast collection but my husband and I greatly enjoy the antiques we do have in our home. I think antiques are more accessible than sometimes believed, especially if you start small. There are many personally rewarding aspects to buying antiques, but with a bit of knowledge buying antiques can also be a great way to stretch (and invest) a dollar.
One of the best financial reasons to buy a quality antique is that antiques are durable. For the most part even the most expensive, newly made items will still come up short in comparison to the craftsmanship and quality of materials found in antiques. Of course there are plenty of delicate antiques not suitable for regular use, but there are many that can grace your home and still be useful. Solid wood furniture, pottery, glass, textiles and even plastic were all made of higher quality in the past, and you can purchase antiques at a lower price than you might expect. Many of the antiques I use every day I bought for a comparable price or less than the same type of item new! Sometimes people see antiques as “used” but I like to remind them that if something lasted 100 years it will probably last 100 more. Can you say that about anything made out of particle board? You won’t regret buying quality.
Another great reason to compliment your home with antiques is that they offer trend-proof decorative impact. If you look through the home decor magazines you will often notice a creative mix of antiques, vintage and new pieces in a room. Some antiques are repurposed for modern living, like light fixtures, fireplace mantles and bathroom vanities. Other fine antiques are stand out pieces that compliment any decor. The playful balance between old and new adds interest to a home as well as personality. Countertops and paint colours may change, but a timeless antique will find a place in your home no matter what the style of the day.
Along those same lines, remember that antiques are the financial investment you enjoy. You can play the stock market, or invest in gold, or keep money in a savings account. But can you hang any of those investments on your wall? Can those investments become part of your home and family life? Aesthetic beauty is very important and people who buy antiques love living with them. Antiques are a way to hold some money in an object that benefits your life and your pocket. If the time comes to liquidate you may be able sell your antique and recoup the money (or make a profit). You can have your cake and eat it too!
So if antiques are high quality, beautiful and usable objects, are they a sure-fire good investment? Well, that’s the million dollar question. The truth is antiques are thought of as a speculative investment, best taken with a long-term approach. The value you get out of an antique is also usually proportional to the price you paid – higher quality means better return. Unlike what some of the TV shows imply, it is unlikely you will buy very low and sell extremely high. Antique values can fluctuate over time, due to factors like trends in the market (supply and demand), as well as the context in which you bought the antique. Try to avoid the red-hot styles of the moment, as these pieces will be selling at a premium. Conversely, if you can anticipate a future interest you may be able to make a good profit by waiting until markets change.
The best advice when buying an antique is to buy what you love at the best quality and condition you can afford. Buy your antiques from a reputable dealer (we have many on Collectivator), and know the basics about what you are buying. Never be shy about asking questions. Many dealers and other collectors are happy to share both historical context and practical knowledge (cleaning, repairs etc) about the antiques that interest you. The understanding about what you buy, after all, is a huge part of enjoying antiques in general. Start small and don’t worry that you’re not an expert. If you find a particular style or type of antique to your liking, start building a collection. As you develop your collection you will naturally learn and that will in turn make you a better buyer and smarter investor.
Finally, remember that no matter what you can spend, or choose to buy, antiques are a finite commodity. They aren’t making any more of them! If you buy quality and beauty, that object will always be in demand and that is a smart financial decision.
For more on buying antiques as financial investments, try these links:
Antiques as Investments by John Fiske and Lisa Freeman