How to Start Antiquing

To me the idea of antiquing is romantic. The process of finding an antique, learning its story, and bringing it home has the antiquarian investing emotions into their find as the wallet is being pulled out to pay for it. People sometimes ask me how I got started in antiques. At the start, at the very beginning, is a love for old things. If you aren’t committed to the idea of having previously owned merchandise in your house, owned by who knows who, then you might not be ready to get started.

When I first started I made some mistakes and I bought some things that I really didn’t like or need. If you’re interested in collecting and antiquing, I’ve put together a few steps to help you begin your journey.

What do you like? If you aren’t sure what you like and need help figuring it out, try a few of these:

  • Pinterest. Pinterest is a virtual pin board for anything and everything that you’re interested in. You can search for “antiques” or “vintage” and thousands of pictures come up. Which of these pictures appeals to you? Make a list. Or better yet, pin them to a board.
  • The Library. Check out a few antique price guide books from the library. Don’t worry about the prices for now. Just flip through and see what gets your attention. What do you like in the book?
  • What are your other hobbies and interests? Are you a die-hard baseball fan? Then chances are you’d enjoy collecting baseball memorabilia. Do you knit scarves or sewing in your spare time? The world of vintage and antique linens awaits you!
  • Do you prefer to have a collection to display on a shelf or pieces that can function in your everyday life? If you’re looking to start a collection figurines and pottery might be for you. If you’d prefer to use your collections daily, jewelry or dishes are an excellent option.
  • What would upset you to see thrown away? What item from days gone by would you hate to see by the side of the road or in a dumpster? Chances are that if something comes to mind, that would be a great thing for you to start antiquing for.

Do a little research. I’m not talking hours and hours of research. But it is a good idea to learn a little bit about what markings to look for and what the going prices are. The average antique dealer knows that their reputation means everything. They are not out to fool or scam you. However as a collector doing a little research means that you know that Pyrex and Py-O-Rey are not the same thing, and their values are drastically different. You’ll be amazed how quickly you catch on.

Browsing is fun, but having a plan is better. Antique stores can be overwhelming. Many stores rent out shelves or stalls to individual dealers. Those dealers will try to maximize their space, and a lot of merchandise gets packed into tight places. However, if you go to the stores and fairs with a plan of what you’re looking for, those things will jump out at you. For example, let’s say that I decide ahead of time that I need to find a green chair and a pink vintage tablecloth. I’m going to browse thinking, “green, pink, green, pink.” And voila, out of the woodwork comes those items you need, that you already have the perfect spot for. Don’t get overwhelmed. Make a plan. 

You don’t have to buy anything. Did I just say that??? I mean, you don’t have to buy anything unless you’re shopping in a place where I’m selling. 🙂 In all seriousness, just because you go to an antique store or fair doesn’t mean that you have to buy something. If you haven’t found something that you came in looking for or that you are generally interested in, it is okay to walk out empty handed. That’s part of the fun of antiquing. When you finally find something that you’ve been looking for, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for that item. Antique stores are full of items waiting to start a new life with their next person. It might not be a perfect match for you.

Tastes in antiques are like underwear, personal and never shared. Remember above when I gave some tips for finding out what you are interested in? Chances are that your friend, neighbor, sister, son, or daughter-in-law doesn’t have the same taste that you do. Trust me. If you’re going to shop for antiques for others, be very sure of their tastes and needs.

I hope that this helps you to get started. If you’re ever in the metro Atlanta area check out the antique stores of Braselton. You can find many of my pieces for sale in Countryside Antiques where I have a booth. 


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