The Nation's Premier Antiques Center

The 10 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying Antiques (Part 1)

A Tibetan Bronze Buddha on Lotus Base

When you choose to invest in an antique you’re buying a sense of history, a story – with loads of character. Before you make your decision to purchase, it’s important to ask yourself some fundamental questions.

The answers will lead you to make informed choices that will encourage a lifelong relationship with antique buying.

1) What determines that a piece is an antique?

A true antique is at least 100 years old.

Bronze Buddha - Antiques at The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center (Phoenix Asian Art )

A Tibetan Bronze Buddha on Lotus Base. Bronze, Tibet, 16th century. [ Phoenix Asian Art | Gallery #68 | 718.819.9200 | ]

A near antique is 77-99 years old. You will hear the term “vintage” but that refers to an item that is generally around 20 years old. Collectibles are popular items from any time (often the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s); they may or may not be vintage.


2) Why invest in antiques?

Antiques are storytellers that come to us from bygone eras that carry the weight of their time with them. If you inherited a piece from an ancestor, it’s a palpable link to your own family tree and the history hanging on its branches. Antiques are eco-friendly as they have been recycled and re-used for over a 100 years. They are usually unbelievably well made, often by hand, and can withstand a lot of life around it. They were built to last with exquisite craftsmanship and superior materials compared to the mass produced furniture objects and commercial art of the 21st Century.

Sevres Style Ormolu Mounted Porcelain Urns - Antiques at The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center (F & P Associates)

Pair of Sevres Style Ormolu Mounted Porcelain Urns. The beaded porcelains are beautifully hand-painted with lovers to the front and a landscape scene in verso. Porcelain and bronze, France, 19th century. [ F & P Associates | Gallery #83 | 212.644.5885 | ]

They are fad proof. Trends come and go but antiques are forever. Antiques add a certain bold personality to a room and hold their own in an environment full of modern pieces. Their age adds charm and originality in a space full of newer pieces.

And they often have a recorded history of value that will appreciate with age. If you take great care of your antiques, their prices will rise over time. It’s a fantastic investment for the long run.

However, only buy antiques if you really know what you are buying.

3) How do I educate myself about buying antiques?

  • Research the different time periods and places, to discover the furnishing styles of those times. Read. Read. Read.
  • Sign up for a class or an online course.
  • Visit antique shops and talk to the dealers. They are historians, storyteller’s and teachers who love imparting knowledge about their profession and passion (just make sure the shop is quiet at the time).

Learn more in Part 2 & Part 3.

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