How To Identify Fake Antiques - 7 General Tips to Starting Your Own Antique Collection

April 17, 2018 1 Comment

How To Identify Fake Antiques - 7 General Tips to Starting Your Own Antique Collection

Discovering the world of antiques can be overwhelming.  Just the fact that I don't have the dream story of learning from an early age as a kid growing up, I can easily relate. As a child my grandfather was an avid collector, but I never thought to learn from him or even had an interest in antiques until I got much older.  My interest really didn't even start until I was forced to help liquidate all of my grandparent's belongings. 

I had attended a very small auction on a sunny Saturday morning while visiting my parents in the tiny town where my grandparents lived and remember being so sad that someone's entire lifetime of belongings could be out in the street for the entire world to pick through like a bunch of rats. It seemed so impersonal and wrong in so many ways. This act didn't seem to honor their life in any way. I suddenly realized the beauty of all of the possessions my grandparents had cherished for so many years and vowed that they would not be disposed of in that way. I wanted to honor their memory and the things they cherished during their lifetime knowing it took so much hard work to get them.  It made me realize that although these are all just "things" why not give them meaning. Why not breathe new life into them and let them go on for someone else to enjoy and better yet use these belongings as a gift that would keep giving to allow me to learn and grow and develop a second career for myself.

Unfortunately, I missed out on a huge learning curve as my grandfather was no longer here to teach me. It was a journey I had to embark upon all on my own where it was up to me to be my own teacher. I have many times wished the knowledge would just be innate as it must run in our blood as I also had a great aunt that loved antiques and even owned her own antique shop.  It is there that I got my start and although I wish that all the knowledge could be pulled from my genes it is not that easy so I will share with you some of the basic tips I have learned along the way and don't get me wrong I continue to learn every day. 

Tip 1 - Pick something to study that you love.  In the world of antiques and collectibles there are too many things to count and the possibilities are endless as to what you can collect. What are you naturally attracted to?  

Tip 2 - Learn the history.  Antiques and collectibles teach us about history. Learning the history behind every piece is an excellent way to teach children about those that came before us and how life was so much different than the way it is now. Each piece and type of collection gives us a different perspective on American history and helps us to relate to the history of our beautiful country. For example antique shaving mugs. Do boys today know how men would shave in the old days? Do children realize that even warm water took work?  Water  didn't just come out of the faucet warm and ready to use. 

Tip 3 - Be patient.  This is the hardest part for me. Learning doesn't come over night. Learn to enjoy the process.  Know that the mistakes you make will be your biggest teachers. If you get duped and end up with a fake piece learn from it.  

Tip 4- If it's too good to be true it probably is. Once you know the history behind a piece and the value if you find something that looks too good to be true it probably is. 

Tip 5- If it's old it shouldn't look new.  Instead of being bummed there is minimal damage to a piece in reality the wear authenticates the age of something. For example wear to gold gild or straw marks in an old piece of glass. 

Tip 6 - Many old pieces were made with quality in mind. A good rule of thumb is looking at the detail of a piece. The more intricate the design, the more detailed the piece the more value it is likely to possess. For example the lack of detail on the collars and cuffs vanity jar above gives you a clue that it might be fake. There is no detail anywhere on the piece, it looks new, and it was cheap. However, it looks like the seller had a conscience and it is marked as "not old".  

Tip 7 - Weight.  Many times as with glass you can tell the quality and or authenticity of a piece by it's weight.  In fact I picked up a piece of glass recently that I was considering buying and before I picked it up I had prepared myself for it to be heavy. Instead when I picked it up my hand was not weighted down at all and to my surprise I jerked the item up quickly as it was light as a feather. 

Enjoy the journey and involve your children.  Discovering the beauty in starting a collection can give you a chance to bond, create memories that will last a lifetime, and teach us about our history which makes collecting antiques and collectibles priceless!

1 Response

Megan Jerrard
Megan Jerrard

April 17, 2018

These are fantastic tips, thankyou! It’s probably a little different than the antiques you’re talking about, but we really love hiking out into remote areas and uncovering antiques and items from abandoned areas / places which have a long and ancient history – treasure I guess would be the best name for it! Totally agree that learning the history of a piece is the best way to gain a greater appreciation of it.

Leave a comment

Enjoy FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $100