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Antiquing 101 – let’s review the basics

Antiquing 101 – let’s review the basics 1765 1765 Gaslight Square Shoppes

For our first Tuesday Tips of the Trade post we are going to get basic. Before antiquing became a verb, savvy antiquers had their own strategies on how to find the best buy.  We’ve provided some pointers for antique shopping which still hold out today.  So if you’re looking to know the basics of Antiquing 101, read on….

Strike strategically.

  1. Make a list of the brands you’re looking for along with desired time periods and materials.
  2. Pack a lunch or snacks (always snacks!) so you don’t get sidetracked by the search for food.
  3. Arrive at the shops just when they open, if not before — sometimes the shopkeepers let the savvy early birds in ahead of opening time.
  4. Finally, an article in  Dummies.com helps you develop a strategy for zoning in on the rare antique by outlining steps with the acronym “RADAR:”
    • Rare: The item should be rare enough that you won’t find it very easily through regular channels.
    • Aesthetic: Be on the lookout for that perfectly appealing piece. Design, color, and size should all work together in harmony to form an aesthetically pleasing piece.
    • Desirability: Make sure there is a current market that highly values the item.
    • Authenticity: Verify that the item is from the right historical period. Confirm the authenticity of any signatures, and determine the quality of the material.
    • Really great condition: Finally, even if the item meets the first four criteria, you still want it to be in mint condition.

Understand what is likely there and what is not

There are some good ole’ reliable categories that you just can depend on being at any antique store worth its salt.

  • Mechanical items: If you know what brand to look for and are prepared to make the necessary repairs, you may find mechanical items like watches, radios, retro fans, typewriters, or machinery that hold real value.
  • Jewelry: Don’t overlook the broad array of jewelry made from less expensive materials.  They have more value than you would expect.  Keep an eye out for the all-coveted Bakelite!
  • Kitchenware: This genre includes a LOT.  Old school mixers, cast iron skillets, silverware, dishes of all sorts, jars, milk bottles, kettles., It also includes cloth items such as napkins and tablecloths too!
  • Furniture: Besides mid-century modern furniture, look for key items from the first half of the 20th century.  This era includes Queen Anne-style sofas and loveseats, furniture with ball-and-claw feet, and old-fashioned gaming tables.  More on that subject soon in a future post!
  • Musical instruments: You can find a full array of instruments in various states of repair.
  • Dolls:  Turns out certain dolls average around $3,000 at auction! Making dolls not a bad thing to be able to spot in the stacks!

Most common items:

  • Silverware: Valuable silverware is showing up in flea market antique shops.  Younger women are downsizing the amount of kitchenware they keep on hand.  Good news for antiquers!
  • Antique clocks: Be sure you factor in condition, material, brand, time period, and the cost for repairs.
  • Canning jars: They may not be bonafide antiques (100 years+),  but you should be able to pick up Mason jars for your kitchen for less than retail.
  • Depression glass: Depression-era dishes were produced cheaply back in the day. However, no longer, these colorful, functional items now can hold real value.
  • Quilts: You may be able to find wonderful throws that were handmade with quality and love.

If this is something you want to explore – come visit us or check for new items added weekly to our catalog! Gaslight Antiques is a leading group of antique shops in Minocqua, Wisconsin with over 120 antique vendors under one roof.