by Samantha Lewis
Being from an area that is completely set in the world of antiquing, this writer can say that New England is a maze of small shops, old garages, broken-down attics and back rooms that have within them a multitude of 1700’s and up, collectibles. What many once called junk (the people who actually threw all of these precious items into these garages and backrooms), has become one of the most invigorating and beloved hobbies in the United States.
It is not a surprise seeing as that there are television shows based on the world of antiquing, with men and women traveling the back roads of America to find that perfect something that someone else thought was worthless. Treasures from the past are just waiting out there for the right person with the right mind full of research and historical information to stop by and pick up. In fact, most outdoor enthusiasts will tell you that they love taking a weekend jaunt with hope in their heats that they will stumble over the most amazing token or treasure ever found.
When you talk about the 2008 recession, the antique store owner will tell you that that’s the time they decided to open their shops. People were traveling less; they were not getting on the jet plane and flying overseas – their choice of ‘at home’ recreation became antiquing. Thus, many small businesses thrived that sold antiques and are still in business today – with some growing bigger and bigger because of the absolute antique craze that television is bringing about.
Long ago a lighting fixture from the 1920’s wouldn’t have been much to talk about; nor would a chair from the 1800’s be anything to write home about. However, whether die-hard antique buyer/seller, or hobbyist that loves to enjoy the Great Outdoors by moving through it and spotting the oldest and sometimes junkiest looking things outside people’s homes – they will all tell you that the 1800’s chair is now worth thousands, and that rusted lightning fixture may just be worth tens of thousands to the right buyer who’s perhaps fixing up an old hotel and wants it to look as it did when it first opened.
Antiquing is not easy. Not only must you deal with the rest of the antique hunters out there looking for that next big buy, but you must also deal with travel, weather, and sometimes sifting through the dirtiest places to come up with a piece of art that the owner of the garage or barn calls junk.
Antiquing also requires a talent for being able to bargain like a New York City stock broker. Although not pawn shops, an antique salesman/woman usually knows exactly what they have and what the retail price is, so being able to use that ‘stone face’ that offers no inkling of how much you want the piece, is a must.
When taking up the hobby and challenge of antiquing you will be surprised to learn that historical documents, century old furniture, old decor, and other hundred-year-old artifacts are out there – they are also among the most popular antiques being collected today. It’s a great hobby; the adventure of Indiana Jones mixed with the business acumen of always getting the best price for a rare find.
But there is a difference between antiques and collectibles. Collectibles are also sought-after but they are less than one-hundred-years-old. Many collectibles from the Depression Era and World War II are the most sought-after by hobbyists in 2013.
Antiquing is a very old sport/hobby, dating all the way back to the 16th century when many were desperately trying to find religious artifacts. In the 17th and 18th centuries, antique collectors turned to archaeological finds and pieces of artwork that had been hidden away for a century. And some of the most recognized that brought the most money at auction were old manuscripts and books from highly-beloved authors that had, yet again, been hidden among a relative’s belongings after the artist had passed on.
So as you begin to learn how to collect antiques in this day and age, the best tip you can get is to start small. Choose very specific categories that you want to collect, then learn everything there is to know about the time period and current auction prices of the items you’re looking for. In other words…be prepared!
And have a whole lot of fun. Who knows? You may just turn your antiquating hobby into the biggest payday of you life. There are many well-known antiques out there and their home remains a mystery…