Wednesday, October 6, 2010
How to buy at an antique auction
If you want to buy antiques at auction it is wise to do your homework before the sale. Make certain that you arrive with plenty of time to inspect the items. Look closely for damage, repairs, evidence of age, and reproductions. If it is a chair you are looking at, make sure that you sit in it before you buy it. Make certain that the table you are considering is high enough to sit under with the right size chair. Check paintings with a black light to look for repairs or an added signature. Most auctioneers sell items "as is where is" so don't expect a refund on the "mistake" you made unless the auctioneer represents the item incorrectly. If the marble top table you are looking at is represented as an antique and you find out it is a reproduction, you have recourse, but if it is represented as simply a marble top table and it turns out that it was made yesterday, then you own it. Don't be afraid to ask the auctioneer beforehand if the blue paint on the blanket chest is from the period or added later. The value of that blanket chest can vary greatly when the age of the finish is taken into consideration. Get to know dealers and appraisers that you can trust for advice on objects. Many will be happy to help you unless they are interested in the same item. Set a limit to what you are willing to pay for an item ahead of the sale. Don't get carried away with your bidding. When you make a mistake learn from it. Every dealer and appraiser will make a mistake on occasion. The key is to keep them at a minimum by "doing your homework".