One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but when it comes to vintage furniture and homewares, how can you spot an authentic treasure amongst the trash? Here are some tips to start you off.
Know your collector’s items from your bric-a-brac
Just because it’s cute and old doesn’t mean it’s worth a lot of money. There are specific brands and labels that are better known because they were highly sought after back in the day or are regarded to be of great quality. Do your research by visiting museums, reading buyer’s guides and checking what things are going for on sites like eBay before you overspend on something with no resale value.
Learn how to spot a fake
Genuine items often have an easily identifiable watermark or a tag attached in a certain way. When it comes to furniture, some pieces that claim to be authentic vintage have actually been put together quite recently in a factory, so it’s good to know how to spot the trademarks of that particular period in furniture making. It could be that your suspicions are raised because it just looks too new, or the type of wood isn’t right for the era it is claiming to be from. It never hurts to get the opinion of an expert if you’re not sure.
Check for dings, chips and worse
While there’s so much beauty in a well-worn piece of history such as an old blanket box from China, on some items there is a point where the damage is too much to ignore. Some faded paint, watermarks and scratches can give a table a gorgeous pre-loved feel, but if the legs are almost completely decayed it might not be worth the cost of getting it home. Similarly, a vintage vase that has a huge chunk glued back into it or a collectible 1950s board game that is missing half its pieces would be more likely to end up on the junk pile. If what you’re looking at is a tool or an instrument like a vintage accordion, check that it works!
Get a feel for modern collector’s items too
It doesn’t hurt to know the potential monetary appreciation of what you’ve currently got or are about to buy, both for insurance purposes and because it would be a shame to let it go at a garage sale for next to nothing to a savvy collector!