Antiques Buying Guide

Learn how to buy Antiques from our Antiques Expert

Clive Downham

Buying an antique from the Victorian period can be considered as one of your most astute financial decisions of the year. The searching process is hugely rewarding and does not have to be confined to sitting in the kitchen browsing the web with a cup of coffee in hand, for now the sun is shining and the antique fairs and markets are in full swing - seize the moment.

If you are new to the whole antique scene and are making the first steps into what will absolutely be the most rewarding purchases you ever make then try this top 10 dos and don’ts...

  1. Do enjoy the experience. It is a little daunting at first when you are presented with so much choice. Unlike the high street, where every offer is a repetition and you are purchasing the identical item as quite literally millions of others, you now have complete freedom to purchase what you want - not what the head buyer of this year’s range wants.
  2. Do spend some money. Walking the markets on a sunny day in search of a bargain is fun, but the greatest reward comes from bringing an antique into the home. Even if it is only a tiny picture frame the experience is multiplied ten-fold.
  3. Do plan ahead. Keep the dimensions of that space by the side of the chimney breast in your diary or ‘phone and decide just how big a kitchen table you need to seat you all. When you see the perfect piece, the one that raises your blood pressure a little, you need to be ready to say ‘yes’ and get the deal done - you know that it may be years before another antique this perfect comes along and you do not want it to go to another home because you were not able to know if it fitted.
  4. Do use the internet. A wonderful source of reference and the place which many start at, but some never progress from. The choice is mind-boggling and the variety of pricing can be confusing, however if you stay with established sellers then all should be well.
  5. Do remember that Antiques are Green. There is no greater example of sustainability than purchasing a Victorian fireside chair which has had its’ 150th birthday. It was produced by hand, in an unheated workshop using only natural materials by a man who walked to work - feel good about your decision because you really are saving the planet.
  6. Don’t forget you are saving money. Sure when you buy an antique there is no ‘Zero deposit and 5 years to pay’ but you’ll own your antique forever and it will maintain or increase in value - there is no sensible financial argument for purchasing a ‘new’ item of furniture.
  7. Don’t expect perfection. Relish the slight signs of use that your antique wears with pride. Imagine the former owners using the piece and even add to the history yourself. There is a feeling of liberation when you realise that your son’s toy car repeatedly hitting the leg of your antique Victorian pine kitchen table is causing no damage whatsoever, just improving the character.
  8. Don’t buy without considering delivery costs. Moving a Victorian triple wardrobe from Dundee to Canterbury is going to cost some money. Remember to add it into your calculations. Some companies do deliver free of charge to their local area.
  9. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. When William IV was replaced on the throne by Queen Victoria nobody disposed of all their furniture. Instead there was a gradual shift and for decades houses throughout the land had an eclectic mix of Georgian, Regency and Victorian styles. Good design and quality craftsmanship are always in vogue so no need to feel ashamed if you wish to hang an ornate Victorian gilt mirror above a simple Georgian walnut chest of drawers - go for it and celebrate the fantastic history and diversity of British antiques.
  10. Don’t stop loving the Victorian period and the incredible changes brought about during this 64 years. Stunning buildings, amazing innovation and a legacy that will endure. In another 150 years all the antiques you own will still be here looking gorgeous, serving abley, and being treasured and enjoyed by your descendants.

Clive Downham antiques lover and founder of Such Gorgeous Things, has been enthralled by English antiques since an early age.

Operating from his Taunton based Studio/Warehouse Clive and his team supply antiques to both private and trade clients across the globe.

With a passion for restoration and belief that good furniture can last forever, the sister company to Such Gorgeous Things offers full repair and restoration for antiques of all types.