Collecting Antiques — A Beginner’s Guide

Collecting Antiques — A Beginner’s Guide

Catherine Marshall

The AAADA Antiques Fair Melbourne is on May 3 to 6th at the Melbourne Showgrounds. But for those of you who want to make the most of collecting antiques, check out our beginner’s guide.

Whether you want to collect for pleasure, for profit or for a little bit of both, follow our tips to get you going!

Becoming a collector is always fun and interesting, whatever you decide to collect. But becoming an antique collector has an added bonus—over time, your antiques may appreciate quite considerably in value while giving your home warmth and personal style.

So how and where do you start?

Firstly, bear in mind that investing in antiques to make a profit is not the same game as buying antiques that you simply love.  According to Peter Valentine, of Valentine’s Antique Gallery if you are are looking for pieces that will increase in value, “choose pieces that will fit in to apartments and townhouses, such as fine display cabinets, collectables or antique boxes”. Peter adds: “The pieces that have come back a bit in value —such as wardrobes or big, formal dining-room tables are victims of our modern lifestyle and our love of built-ins and smaller spaces!  But this means that you can now buy an exquisitely crafted, big dining table at a reasonable price.”

Cabinet 1870

19th Century French Marble Top Display Cabinet, c 1870, from Peter Valentine’s Antique Gallery

Peter adds that the number one rule for investing in antiques is to always buy from a reputable dealer, as there are so many reproductions and fakes around.

“Buy one good piece a year, the best you can afford, and then add another piece the following year and within ten years you will have a fine collection. The best collections happen over a lifetime.”

Bedroom Chair 1870

19th Century English Bedroom Chair, c 1870, from Peter Valentine’s Antique Gallery

Do as much homework as you possibly can on the object, or the period that you are interested in collecting from. Visit the library and go through all their antique books.  Also visit antique fairs and galleries to work out what you really like. Build on that visual knowledge and it will enable you to spot a great buy. Also browse the internet to educate yourself on your objects of interest.

Follow these easy rules to get started:

  1. Start simple and only buy what works for your home.
  2. Visit antique stores. Antique dealers are often passionate about their job and more than happy to talk to you about their different pieces. Or seek out other collectors in on-line forums.
  3. Estate auctions, garage sales and flea markets are often good places to pick up deals.
  4. Build relationships with dealers. They are the ones who will alert you when a particular piece comes in
  5. Follow your instincts. If you love a piece, then it’s right for you.
  6. Educate yourself.  If you are mad about Edwardian chairs, then make sure you see hundreds of them before you purchase.
  7. Develop an eye for quality and detail.
  8. Learn to negotiate.

Contact: Peter Valentine of Valentine’s Antique Gallery, ph (03) 5443 7279, 369 Hargreave Street, Bendigo, Vic 3550


The AAADA Antiques Fair Melbourne is on May 3 to 6th at the Melbourne showgrounds… Price is $20 per ticket but there’s an early bird special till April 14th of 2 for $20 if you join the mailing list and buy now.

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