If you are thinking about starting your Asian antique collection, keep in mind that this is the one time that imitation is not the sincerest flattery form. The fact is that this category of business is a huge enterprise and you can now buy antiques online, at shows, shop and auctions. You might even find some one of a kind collectibles at flea markets and garage sales. Before buying, however, you need to know the different between fake stuff, reproductions and the real deal.
Before you start your collection, determine the budget you have to spend and what kind of pieces you prefer. Ask yourself whether you are shopping to collect for beautifying your home or primarily as an investment? Do you intend to go into the buy and sell business of antiques? Knowing what you are going to collect for will help you decide what pieces to buy.
According to the law, an item that is a minimum of one hundred years old is an antique. On the other hand, a collectible is a popular item that people collect, and does not necessarily have to be a hundred years old. In many cases, the collectible item’s age is not really that important except if it is labeled a collectible vintage item, which means that it needs to be a minimum of fifty years old.
Items that are created to look like antiques with the same patina and aged appearance are called reproductions. The values of these pieces are next to nothing when it comes to the world of antiques. For instance, modern furnishings can be made to look like eighteenth century styles including the Hepplewhite, Chippendale and the Queen Anne.
This is the same as jewelry that is made to look old but really is not considered antiques. Contrary to popular belief, the term ‘repro’ is not the shorter version of ‘reproductions’ but rather, is the word for something created intentionally to deceive customers into thinking they are purchasing a real antique. These are, in other words, fake items that can include copper, brass, wood carvings, textiles, prints, paintings, silver and even a repro Tiffany lamps.
Needless to say, it is quite important to do some research before actually going on a shopping spree. This means that you need to visit auctions, malls and antique shops in your area and abroad and talk to reputable dealers and collectors. Brush up your antique shopping skills by reading auction catalogues, price guides, magazines and book on the pieces that you are thinking of purchasing.
It cannot be denied that the more knowledgeable you are, the less the chances are of you paying more for something than you should. As you shop around, it won’t hurt to casually ask dealers about how long they’ve been in the business, how they determine an item’s price, if they belong to organizations that are professional and the like. Talk to them about the criteria they use for identifying the pieces they sell and if they are willing to sign a written agreement regarding a return policy if you are unsatisfied with the item later.