By: AlienOverlord626, Contributor
Anyone who has ever seen the television program "Antiques Roadshow" knows that often people may have a small fortune in their houses without realizing it. An old rug can be worth thousands. In many instances the person inherited the item from a relative and had no idea of it's true value. The chance of this happening to the average person is pretty slim. It is possibe however to enter the exciting world of the Antiquarian (someone who collects antiques) with only a minimum of preparation and cost. Here are a few simple suggestions that will help the average person get started.
Start at your local Thrift store. Often people donate old, unused furniture and household good without thinking about their possible value. People love the new, shinny gadgets that come out year after year. They are incouraged to get rid of their old things and buy new ones. This is of course foolish. New furnishings are often designed to last only a few years while older furniture can last literally for hundreds of years. 'Grandma's old table may be worth hundreds more than that new glass table.
Which brings us to the next important thing: Learn what to look for. Valuable antiques will often have the name of the craftsman who made them on an underside. Plates, dishes and silverwear will have what is called a 'watermark'. This is simply the stamp of the person or company who made it and the date it was made. Designer clothing can often be found in such places and can be purchased for a fraction of their original cost.
Special note: The reason Antique stores aren't mentioned in this section is because the people that own them often know the real value of their goods and will charge much more than that just to cover costs and profit.
Yard sales. One person's trash can literally be another's treasure. A classic example is a man (Who shall remain nameless) who bought a set of wrought iron lamps for 35 dollars. He went home and looked them up to discover they were worth 900 dollars each! The man who did this understood the two most important rules for buying antiques. 1. If it looks valuable it probably is. 2.Gold is where you find it. That is an old expression that means you have to be looking for something to find it. The man I just mentioned has been doing this for years. He enjoys filling his house with high quality furnishings and artwork for a fraction of what new furnishings would cost. There is no rule that says you have to look for yard sales in your own neighbourhood. By taking a Saturday to check out the yardsales in town it is possible to discover a secret world of treasure.
There is another aspect to this hobby that makes it particularly appealing these days, the savings a person achieve by furnishing their homes this way. The same man furnished an entire house for 300 dollars. There are a couple of things to consider though. The popularity of television shows about antiques means there is more competition than in earlier years. The second thing to consider is the economy. There was a time when only a few people frequented yard sales and thrift stores and most of those people were poor. Such is not the case these days. It is not unusual to see new cars in the parking lots of thrift stores and parked in front of yard sales. This is where homework comes in. The average person will look at an old crank operated record player and not realize it's an old 'Victrola' and worth it's weight in gold (even at today's rates).
The simple act of research can make the difference between buying old junk and making a prudent investment. Collecting antiques is the only hobby where a person can spend twenty dollars and recieve something worth hundreds. It is worth well worth doing even if only for fun.
"One of the most obvious facts about grownups to a child is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child." - Randall Jarrell