HOST: Welcome everybody to this week’s segment of Smart Shopper. On our program today we have renowned antique trader Carla White here to give us some tips on buying antiques. Carla, welcome to the show.
GUEST: Thanks, Rick. It’s a pleasure to be here.
HOST: Now, Carla, you’ve been dealing in antiques for something like 20 years now. Can you explain how you got into it?
GUEST: Sure. Well, I grew up living with my grandparents, and my grandmother was a big fan of collecting antique furniture. She would take me to garage sales with her to look for old pieces that she could refurbish and put in the house. So, I think that my interest in old items stems from that. Yeah, uh, so then I went to school for business and decided to turn my hobby into a career. I started going to auctions and looking for cool antique lamps, tables, wall pieces…pretty much anything I could get my hands on. And, um, when I had enough, I opened my first antique shop on Baker Street. It was very small, but business went well.
HOST: So you expanded.
GUEST: That’s right. Now I own around, oh, seventeen or so antique stores across the country.
HOST: A truly self-made success.
GUEST: Ha-ha. I guess so.
HOST: Would you say that finding antiques is skill?
GUEST: Hmm. Yes, I would. You have to have a keen eye for tasteful pieces. You also have to be good at negotiating prices, and knowing how to haggle a bit. But most importantly you need a strong knowledge of the antique industry. You have to, for example, be able to tell the difference between a true antique, a near antique, and a vintage. This requires a fairly extensive understanding of history, especially related to different social or, uh, cultural periods.
HOST: But what about the average consumer who just wants to buy antiques for their own personal use. What advice can you give them?
GUEST: First and foremost, I’d say do your research and find a dealer that you can trust. There are a lot of scam artists out there, and you aren’t going to become an expert in antiques overnight. So it’s best to ask around for reputable, established dealers, or look at online forums. People tend to review dealers quite honestly.
GUEST: Second, don’t think that having chips, cracks, or scratches somehow adds to the authenticity of the antique. This is a big mistake amongst new antique buyers…they buy items that are damaged, and then can’t resell them at any worthwhile price. A valuable antique is one that is in excellent condition, regardless of its age. I mean, really, why would you want something in your home that isn’t in great shape?
HOST: You have a point. But, uh, isn’t it likely that an antique has undergone some restoration in its time?
GUEST: Well, yes, but you can look for signs of restoration as well. Make sure that there aren’t carvings in, let’s say, a bed stand that would have required tools that did not exist at the time the bed stand was made. Any signs of advanced machinery or tool use indicate that there’s been major restoration.
HOST: Got it. Anything else?
GUEST: Ask the seller about the antique’s history. The seller should be able to pinpoint the origins of the piece, the social period that it belonged to, and the approximate date on which it was made. And by approximate I mean within a five-year period. If the dealer cannot provide you this information, or he or she seems to be making it up, turn around and walk away. A true antique dealer is an expert in the items they are selling.
HOST: Well, you have definitely provided us with some great starting points. If anyone out there listening would like more information, or to contact Ms. White, visit her website at www.cwhiteantiques.net. Carla, thank you for your time.