Antiques and Collectibles

June 1st, 2011

iSearchDecor-Get-MatchesWhen economic times are difficult it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to lose your design identity.  Instead, this is a time to embrace new opportunities to enhance what you already have by looking for unique pieces in places you may not have considered before.  Often called antiques and collectibles, these unique furnishings were at the forefront of design during one of the most difficult periods in American history.

The stock market crash of the late 1920’s and early 30’s sent shockwaves around the world.  Previous upper and middle class families were suddenly plunged into poverty and businesses, which could no longer sell their traditional furniture pieces, had to adapt.  These pieces today are not only novel, but are highly prized.  The problem is that many people lack the adequate skills to identify them.  A few important rules may help you identify actual “treasures” that are frequently overlooked and add new elements to existing design themes that can give you a whole new look for very little money.

  • Before you toss it, check it. Before you scour stores for unique pieces, try to find things in your attic storage or basement that look old or unique and check them before you toss or donate them.  Websites like or the are great places to start.  Simply find a similar item and see if they are receiving bids.  If they are then a collector somewhere may be interested in what you have.  Who knows, that little tea trolley Grandma passed down may be quite valuable in today’s market.
  • Begin your search in new places. Garage sales, flea markets, antique shops, estate sales, and thrift stores offer a unique opportunity to find hidden booty and often the owners don’t even know what they have.  For instance, on the news recently it was reported that a girl paid $3.00 for a Picasso at a garage sale that was actually signed by the famous painter.  Valued at over a million dollars, the girl was simply looking for a piece of chic to accent her décor and ended up with the find of a lifetime.  Even she didn’t know what she’d found until someone else saw it.
  • Make your next visit to a furniture auction. For those who have never attended a furniture auction, it is not only great fun, but is also filled with a plethora of unique pieces.  These auction houses not only sell furniture, but accessories as well and the prize goes to the highest bidder.  If no one else bids, you can often get treasured pieces for a song.
  • Know what to look for. Sometimes you can find places where you can learn about how to spot valuable pieces without it costing much.  For example, antique and collectible trade shows provide venders in a variety of fields who love sharing their knowledge about the pieces they specialize in.  Whether you love carnival glass, Queen Anne furniture, or Chippendale find what you like and what fits in with your design plan and then learn all you can about it before you buy.
  • For the periods you’re most interested in, learn all you can about the construction of that era. When on a treasure hunt you should be able to tell whether a piece was manufactured or made by hand.  Handmade pieces will be more valuable in the long run so take time to learn all you can about how the pieces of the period were made before you get excited with a new purchase only to find out it’s a reproduction.

Even during hard economic times your home can still reflect your taste and aesthetics if you add antiques and collectibles to your design plan.  Whether you purchase accessories or full pieces of furniture they can do much to add to the ambience of any room and, in the long run, can pay off with huge cash rewards.


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