Top 10 tips for finding that antique bargain

Having been built in the 1860s, Hookwood Lodge is steeped in history. With this in mind, we have always taken great care in ensuring our rooms are decorated and furnished with as much character as the building and grounds they reside in.

Even following its refurbishment in 2017, Hookwood Lodge maintained its unique Victorian feel and we're proud of each and every one of our rooms. It took many hours of searching, but we sourced bespoke items for each bedroom. 

So how did we do it? Here we share some of our most useful tips on how to find your perfect antique, and ensure it's a bargain too!

Tip 1: Remember - A bargain doesn't always mean inexpensive!

Our first tip is an obvious one, but often forgotten. Although it's possible to find inexpensive antiques, the real antiques will cost a little (sometime a lot) more.

It's still possible to get a bargain though - Look for items that you know are worth more than they're being sold for. At the very least you'll have bought an antique for less than it's worth, and at best you'll be able to sell it on for a profit.

Tip 2: Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!

In all antiques stores, there will be an array of cabinets and displays which show off the 'most valuable' items.

Whilst these items might be worth more than the rest of the shop combined, you don't want to miss out on finding a hidden treasure, because you were too busy looking at the map.

Look high and low and, if needs be, move things around to get a better view of other items. Often the best items are the ones you don't see straight away.

Tip 3: Know your stuff, or act like you do...

It's important to know what to look for - not only will this help you find items which are over or under valued, but it will also help you when negotiating.

Regular visits to antiques shop alongside some light reading will soon improve your knowledge of antiques and help you separate your Art Deco from your Art Nouveau.

Chances are the seller will know you're no expert, so sound confident and ask the right questions!

Photo by Annie Spratt

Tip 4: The early bird...

If you're heading to an antiques fair or auction, get there early! Arriving before the crowds will give you time to study any items that catch your eye, and also allows you to open communication with the sellers.

At fairs in particular, some sellers may be willing to put an item aside in order to guarantee some early sales. 

Tip 5: Staying late helps too...

Just as arriving early can help, so can staying late. Sellers will be keen to get rid of their last remaining items later on in the day, so staying late and negotiating harder on price tags could earn you some bargain buys.

If you're unsure on an item early on in the day, don't rush into buying it. Hold off and try again later - either the item will have gone for more than you wanted to pay, or it will still be there and you'll be better placed to negotiate.

Tip 6: Avoid buying online or over the phone...

Not only does online shopping take the fun out of looking for antiques, but it also puts you at risk of buyer's remorse.

Would you buy a car without test driving it? Absolutely not! Visit the seller, handle the item and make sure you look for any reasons that this item might not be all it seems.

Not only that, but buying online means putting the delivery of your item out of your hands. Buying in person guarantees you the security of knowing the item will get home safely with you.

Tip 7: Taste is important - but don't go eating your antique.

When buying an item, remember that you may be willing to pay more for it than someone else would.

With everything, taste differs from person to person - so although an antique may have a certain value, you and I may be willing to spend more or less to get our hands on it.

This tip is especially for those looking to sell on for a profit - you don't want to be left with an item you didn't need, because you paid over the odds.

Tip 8: Pay by card - and get a receipt!

This is a simple but handy piece of advice. You're still covered by consumer protection rights, and should anything go wrong with the item you are able to return just like you would anything else.

Take pictures of the item, and make sure your receipt notes of any damage or identifiable features.

Paying by card is just a way of proving you purchased the item when you say you did, and backs up the receipt.

Tip 9: Haggle! Haggle! Haggle!

The great thing about antiques is that you can guarantee you won't have to pay the price on the label. Once you've inspected the item fully, highlight any flaws to the seller and negotiate a better price.

Ensure you take into account any expenses for repairs or restorations and then name your price, minus some wiggle room for the seller to haggle back and some extra room if you're looking to sell the item on for more.

Remember - if an item looks like it's been sat there for a while, it probably has! The seller will be more willing to negotiate if they know an item has just been gathering dust. Look for items with worn or ageing labels and pick it up to see if it disturbs the formation of dust on the shelf or display.

Tip 10: Take your time and enjoy it!

Last but not last - and I'm sure you don't need to be told - enjoy yourself!

Searching for antiques should be fun and, whether you're shopping alone or with a partner or friend, make the most of the time you have.

By rushing you'll take the fun out of picking up each item and uncovering hidden characteristics of each piece - Enjoy spending time with your loved ones and discover what antiques they like (and don't like). Laugh at any unusual items you may find, and let the masterpieces unite you in awe.

If you find yourselves using this handy guide, please let us know via our Facebook page and we'd love to share your pictures with our team.

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