Skills for hunting Antiques

If you've got the antique furniture bug, beware because there is no known antidote, vaccine or cure that can help you. Oh, a few duds and a couple of rip offs will cool your ardor temporarily but the best you can hope for is good hunting without too many mishaps to clutter up your space and wreck your finances.
      So what do you need besides a willing, or at least understanding or at the very least tolerant, significant other and some ready cash? Several important points come to mind to help you dispose of that cash in a meaningful manner.
      EXPOSURE - You can't find the stuff if you are not out there where it is. It generally is not going to walk into your parlor and wag its tail. You have to go out there and find it. And that's not as easy as it sounds. So where do you go?
      The first obvious answer is antiques shops and malls. Peruse your local trade papers to see who advertises in your area and visit them. The dealers who own these shops have already spent a lot of time and money searching out inventory to sell so take advantage of their expenditures. Their tastes may not coincide exactly with yours but its a good place to start. Besides their hard goods inventory, most good shops have another valuable asset that can serve you well. Unlike most of the nice folks who work at the fast food joint on the corner, the owners of good antiques shops actually have an interest in the business and want to be there. They usually are quite knowledgeable and are eager to demonstrate their expertise, given an opportunity. There is no better place to establish a toehold in the antiques world than in a well run shop.
      The next place to explore is the world of shows. Instead of going to one antiques shop, a well promoted show will give you the opportunity to interact with a dozen or a hundred or even  a thousand dealers from different locales, almost all of whom know some fact or tidbit about the trade that you don't know. So what if you have to pay a couple of bucks to enter. You should earn that back in the first five minutes you are there.
      After you gain a little more knowledge the next stop is an auction. Don't worry if you don't understand everything that happens, not many people really do. Just be sure to go early to preview the inventory and make notes on things that interest you. Then listen to see what the auctioneer might say about the piece other than what is written in the program. And watch who bids and how and how much. After a few auctions you will start to see familiar faces and pick up patterns of activity from certain segments of the audience.
      Last of all don't ignore the classified section of your local newspaper. You might be surprised at what's there, not only in the "Antiques and Collectibles" section but also in the "garage sale" area.
      BASIC KNOWLEDGE - You shouldn't buy what you don't know and you won't know it without studying. You don't need to become a Road Show expert but you do need to know basic stuff like styles, periods, construction details and woods.
      Styles - It is important to know styles because while many classic styles have been repeated for centuries, like Queen Anne and Chippendale, some styles, like Eastlake and Renaissance Revival, are unique to a particular time and can help establish the age of a piece.

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