Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

How To Learn About Antiques

The best way to learn about antiques and collectibles is to handle them. Pick them up. Touch them, Smell them. Feel the texture and the age. Everything else is just preparation.

I have attended classes by "experts" at community colleges. Mostly a waste of time. You might learn something, but the class I took was a woman with a bunch of price guides and little hands on experience. The prices she used as examples were spotty and ill-informed.

You need hands on experience. It is the only way to get a good feel for the antiques.

Here is a short course to help you learn about antiques and collectibles.

  1. Specialize. That means you learn about one type of antique that interests you at a time. There is no way you can learn everything about everything, but you can build a great base of knowledge about one type of item. Once you have a deep understanding of one item it will be easier to learn about other items.
  2. Go out to every antique store in your area and look at their inventory. Handle their offerings. Get the store owners to tell you about their items. Ask questions.

    Here's some typical questions to ask:
    1. How many types of these were made?
    2. What makes one item worth more than another? (Age, condition, manufacturer, completeness, quality, etc. . .)
    3. What versions are more sought after by collectors?
    4. What was the item originally used for?
    5. What are the better brand names and what are their marks?
    6. Are reproductions made? If so, how do you tell originals from the copies?
    7. One question you always want to ask is what questions should you ask.

    Many shop owners and collectors enjoy talking with people who share their interests. By expressing an interest and listening to them, they will open up to you and share their knowledge. It might take you a few visits to get some of them to open up to you. Be persistent. Demonstrate your interest and keep politely visiting them.
  3. Read books and consult internet guides to learn additional information. Compare the information you read to the information the dealers are giving you. Ask questions to resolve any differences.
  4. Join an internet newsgroup or discussion board specifically oriented to the items you are learning about. Ask questions, volunteer information and participate in the discussions.

By doing all these things you will meet and get to know collectors and dealers who freely share their knowledge. You are building a circle of advisers who will help you learn more. This circle will become the foundation for your future dealings.

The FASTEST way to learn about antiques and collectibles is to get out there and buy them from the public.

At this point you are probably saying to yourself "I don't know what the stuff is worth. How can buy or sell it?"

Don't get caught up in prices. If you buy the stuff cheap enough, you will make money; and learn along the way. Set limits on the amount you will pay for each item.

Right now I'm learning about Blue Cornflower items by Corning Ware. I know the big four- and five-quart roasters are expensive, for the rest of the items I'll pay $2-4 each for them.

I've also decided to buy every FireKing advertising mug I see for $2 or less. (I'm doing this because I keep picking these mugs up while looking for CorningWare mugs and did some researching on eBay. At $2.00 I'll make money selling most of the ones I buy, and won't be upset when I don't make money.)

Antiques and Collectibles that are priced higher than my limits are closely examined and then later I look them up on eBay to see what they've been selling for.

Another great way to learn about antiques without risking your money buying them is to do eBay consignment sales.

By doing consignment sales, you get to handle everything when you photograph it and write the listings. You will also learn from the bidders questions, and after the auction ends, you will know what the items are worth.

Plus by selling on consignment you can make money to buy stuff to keep or to resell. Selling other people's stuff on consignment is a great way to start your own antiques and collectibles business. The best part of a consignment business is because you don't have to pay for anything, you are not risking your own money as you learn.

All you need is a digital camera, a computer and some packing materials to start your own eBay consignment business.

I've sold lots of stuff on consignment, and also interviewed other eBay consignment sellers -- some who sell 40 to 70 thousand dollars worth of stuff a month -- and put all the information together into a book. The book also includes the contract I had a lawyer write for me, and the inventory sheets I use to keep track of large estates.

Get the eBay consignment book here.


PS there is a series of articles about doing eBay consignment on the site. The introduction is here.

"The IWantCollectibles Guide to Ebay Sales"
is now available for immediate download.

Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

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