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Identifying and Researching Antiques and Collectibles
Antiques are one area where you can have many questions. What do you have? How old? What is its monetary value? Is it an original or a reproduction?
There are many ways to identify and understand your pieces and it doesn’t even involve too much effort. Learning some tips will safeguard you in the future searches and will prevent you from buying fakes.
1. Look for marks and signatures
This is the first step in identifying your antique item and is of vital importance. Marks will tell you the maker of the piece and will open the door to further research.
Costume jewelry will most often have marks, but they might be small and hidden, so look carefully. Pottery and porcelain are also known to have mark, but glassware will rarely have identification signs.
Pottery and porcelain marks are easily visible on the bottom or back of the pieces. Well-known house have marks that are widely known. They do change with time, so the mark will also tell you the time period of production.
Silver and silver-plate items are also marked by a series of small markings inside small squares. You have to know how to read them, but they will tell you the manufacturer, the country of origin, and sometimes the date. The content of silver will also be marked in another little square.
Furniture labels are often hidden inside the drawers, on the back or under the piece. The name of the maker or manufacturer is usually listed there.
Decoding antique furniture
Furniture is an entire field in antiques business. There are many different periods, styles, and famous makers to be dealt with. This is why style and period are very important when analyzing furniture.
Good examples are Chippendale and Queen Anne styles. They both look very similar to most people, but a trained eye, their differences are evident. The first style was popular in the mid-to-late 1700s, while the second was crafted at the beginning of that century. Or Eastlake style from Victorian era that is so different from its contemporaries.
Modern pieces, like Eames are well known and valued because of clean lines and easily identifiable style. There are other designers of mid-century pieces that are already collected today, despite being relatively young.
2. Don’t be tricked by reproductions
Educate yourself so that you will never have to be fooled by reproductions. The art of distinguishing the original from reproduction is not very easy, but definitely doable, so invest some time and don’t make mistakes that can be financially costly.
3. Test your discoveries for Authenticity
There are many ways to check your treasures for Authenticity. Some methods are more sophisticated than others. Try using black light on various pieces, because it works on many things, from porcelain to art work. Bakelite collectors should definitely learn the origins of their collection.
4. Work with a good antique guide
It never hurts to have as much knowledge as you possibly can, especially in the antiques world. Research your own pieces and find out everything you can before acquiring additional treasures for your collection. Internet can give you excellent tools for research, but a good library will do even better helping you. It can be your own library of guides and catalogues or a public library.
A good antique guide with general tips on popular antiques is a good place to start and then venture further from there. The beginner’s guide will offer you a great foundation on which you can build and expand your knowledge of your favorite types of antiques.

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