Some of us get a real thrill out of sniffing out a find in a bustling antiques fair. Some, on the other hand, might find the process of sifting through a jungle of miscellaneous curiosities as an overwhelming one. Regardless, the prospect of making a pretty penny when an antiques find swings in one’s favour is appealing for either party. If played well, a short-term venture to an antiques fair could yield impressive long-term returns.

So what tricks can you incorporate into your antiques hunting technique to maximise your chances of success?

1. Look for unusual items

The most valuable items are those that are rare. By familiarising yourself with a particular artistic style or movement prior to your antiques hunting expedition, you can get a strong sense of what might be regarded as common and uncommon in the field.

Otherwise, let your instincts guide you. Does a piece appeal or stand out to you? If something is quirky, has noteworthy craftmanship, or a certain je ne sais quoi about it, then it might be worth a more detailed perusal.

2. Beware of fakes and forgeries

If you have concerns about the authenticity of an item, resist the urge to buy it on the spot. If possible, get a trusted second opinion, and remember to always bring along an appropriate eye glass when examining jewellery.

3. Invest in untouched pieces

Items that have been restored in some way – however cleverly – will be worth less than those kept intact. Look for telltale signs of tinkering, such as the use of materials or machinery that are inconsistent with the age of the piece.

4. Buy from trusted dealers

Making money through antiques dealing can be risky, as it is an unregulated practice. To ensure maximum security, look for dealers that are allied with the two main UK trade associations – the British Antique Dealers’ Association (Bada), or the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers (Lapada).

5. Factor in hidden costs

Don’t get caught out by the standard buyer’s premium that is added on to the cost of the item after the sale by dealers selling antiques at auction.. Additionally, keep in mind VAT costs on anything paid to an auction house. To best circumnavigate these potential pitfalls, set yourself a budget that factors in these costs prior to attending an antiques fair or event.

With a bit of preparation, and a modicum of foresight, you’re less likely to be left a fair bit out of pocket, so why not begin boosting your earnings with your new-found knowledge today?

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