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Antique buying guide

Buying antiques is a unique experience and often a thrill But if you are a novice there are few things you should know in advance so that ignorance does not ruin this experience for you. The world of antiques is full of charming things and has a lot to offer. Choosing the right things from amongst the many available is important.
Let’s start with the basics. There are antiques and then there is vintage.The difference between the two is that any item that is at least a 100 years old will fall into the antiques category, whereas the Vintage items are younger, 20th century.. Both are not to be confused with collectibles that are not necessarily antiques or vintage items. These can be any of the popular items that could be rare and unique and can be antique, vintage or relatively recent.
Antique hunting is pretty easy these days what with the proliferation of antiques shops and markets and the internet.
A basic knowledge of the styles will be of great help while buying antiques pieces. If you are looking for an antique furniture piece for instance, once you narrow down your options to a particular type that you want, you can then research online or through the printed medium about the styles and types available. It is always more reliable to do some research for your homework. There are various antique guides available covering a range of topics. From these you will be able to gather valuable information about identifying the hallmarks that reveal details, decipher various symbols and markings that will help identify the origins etc.
Auctions, fairs and visiting shops are also a great way of learning more about the antique items. Dealers are often happy to share their knowledge about antiques. When you buy antiques it is as good as an investment. So one thing you should always remember is never make a hasty decision. Spend some time, visit more than a few shops and websites then only go for a wise calculated decision. The most important thing however is buying something that you like. If you do not like the piece that you have bought it will just sit there ignored.
Looking at the materials used can also help in identifying antiques. For instance there are various kinds of materials used in the modern furniture that were not available earlier. So keep an eye open for evidence of such materials in the items that you buy. Antiques carry signs of usage in the form of bumps and bruises. So ultra smooth edges and fine lines will generally indicate reproductions and not original pieces. In case of silver items, post mid 18th century items usually are marked ‘sterling’ while the ones before that bore the makers initials. In case of pottery, these usually were stamped with details or engraved. The style of lettering and such other minute details can also help in identifying the antiques.
Bargaining for a better price is acceptable.... although the deals arrived on various TV antiques programmes are not indicative of real life deals!  If you are going to antique dealers, it is always better to stick to dealers who come under an organized group such as PAADA (Petworth Art and Antique Dealers Association). Organizations like these have a strict code of conduct for their members so you can be assured of what you buy from such members are genuine products. These associations provide you with added security and protection.