From the Latin word antiquus, an antique is usually described as an object at least a hundred years old, which somehow represents a different period of history and which is desirable to own. There could be many factors that make an antique desirable, such as its beauty, or its provenance. It could be desirable for its sheer ugliness, or it could be a totally utilitarian object once in everyday use and previously owned by thousands, but now relatively impossible to find. Here, we consider where and how best to find antiques for sale.
Every so often, a story runs in the press telling of rare examples of a famous artist’s work being discovered by someone in their loft. Chance discoveries like this are rare. Other variants on such stories tell of lucky purchases at jumble sales, bought for a matter of pence, which turn out to be stunningly valuable antiques. Like the dusty, priceless Grand Master in the attic, such occasions are also few and far between. Most collectors find the best antiques using more conventional and less sensational approaches.
Many people attend auctions held by antique dealers. Auctions are an ideal place to find antiques, regardless of whether or not you know just what you are looking for. If you do bid at an auction, bear in mind that it is likely to be an open ascending price auction, where prospective purchasers bid openly against each other and each subsequent bid is higher than the last. For a perhaps less costly alternative to an auction, visiting an antique shop is another way to source decent antique pieces. Antique shops of one form or another can be found in many large towns or cities.
Antique shops usually fall into two categories, either stockists of general antiques or specialist shops that contain either antiques from a certain period, or of a specific category of antique. An example of a specialist antique shop would be one who dealt in only military antiques. A general antiques shop might, for example, contain a range of antique china, silverware, paintings and furniture. With the exception of major conurbations, there tend not be many antique shops in any one given location and the prices asked may reflect the relative absence of competition in the local marketplace.
An alternative means of purchasing antiques has been created, one that may be more convenient for you, which operates in a global, competitive market place. The rise of the Internet has led to the development of web-based antique shops. Such outlets have been in existence since at least the mid 1990s but recent technological developments, like fast broadband connections and secure payment systems, have lead to a subsequent rise in the popularity of visiting a virtual antiques boutique.
Collector Jeff Marks is looking for antiques for sale in the London area and is considering the different retail options available to him.