Category Archives: Art, Antiques & Other Collectibles

Antiques At Home #1: Investing In Time


Mary Cassatt (American, 1844 - 1926 ), Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Mary Cassatt (American, 1844 – 1926 ), Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Why Is This A Good Idea for You?

 Rare and beautiful objects never go out of style, while good craftsmanship speaks for itself.


Moreover, it’s difficult to beat the charm and interest a good antique or vintage piece brings to any setting.  When you add the fact that an antique grows in value over time, the initial investment is money well spent.  The craftsmanship of earlier times created truly beautiful furniture can’t be replicated in the same way today, that is anywhere near cost effective.

Here is an opportunity to make a wise purchase for both love and money.

However, as with any significant investment in high quality, it’s important to educate yourself  before you take the plunge. It’s a big world with a lot of wonderful antiquities for sale.  You need a knowledgeable overview of what you find most appealing.  You don’t want to miss an exceptional find because you don’t have a clue about what appeals to you in advance.

In the same way you determined what your personal style is, (and by extension the style of home you want to live in), the same process is used here. Antique furniture can be segregated into four broad categories; English, European, American and Far Eastern.  You might begin with an investigation into each category to distinguish the features that are consistent to the category and which of these you prefer.

Browsing with an adventurous and open-minded outlook as well as a scholarly approach, can net you unexpected “found” treasures. You could start out looking for an English side table but find yourself transfixed by the beauty of a pair of French Fauteuil (Fauteuil are otherwise known as “chairs”).

Fortunately, the pursuit of your higher education can easily start near home with the fine antique stores in the area.  Take a field trip.  Ask questions.  Good dealers want to share their knowledge.  It’s in their best interest that you are a well-informed buyer who understands the quality, the market and the value of their inventory.  There is no substitute for seeing and handling real furniture and accessories.  It’s the best way to learn.  You can’t appreciate the difference between a hand rubbed wood finish that has the patina of age, and the standard wood finish you see on most new furniture, unless you see for yourself first hand.

You can also broaden your horizons by attending lectures and seminars.  Pore over auction catalogs and go to auction viewing rooms.  They’re great places to see, handle and learn about antique furniture as well.

While the best advice is always to buy the highest quality you can afford, a fine antique need not be museum quality (with the consequent price tag) to find a place in your home. There is such a thing as an excellent and reasonably priced antique.  Think in terms of “usable antiques” such as small tables, or chests of drawers.

Another avenue to explore is high quality reproductions. There are times when it’s neither practical nor cost effective to wait for the perfect specimen to arrive on the market. Dining tables are a good case in point. The table of your dreams may not only cost roughly $10,000, but if you do find it eventually, there’s an excellent chance that it simply won’t be a workable size. In a case such as this, a reproduction of the table you crave can be made to order, with workmanship, finishes and patina so fine, only a seasoned expert would be able to distinguish it from the original.

Next Time: Antiques At Home #2: Living With Treasures

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(Buying Antiques Two Part Series)

Antiques At Home #2: Living With Treasures


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