Auctions are a good source for furniture in need of attention and at present, sale rooms are filled with many “lots” and not many buyers. Try to go to local auctions and particularly look for farm sales if you have a keen eye for bargains. Remember the golden rule when buying; decide on your limit and stick to it, as auction fever is very catching.
Be aware that the hammer price is not the final price.
Added costs include 10% – 15% for the Auction House premium plus VAT; look at the catalogue for details in case there is VAT on the item itself – an asterisk or dagger symbol is usually an indication. Remember; decide how you are going to transport home your purchase. At most auction rooms there is a driver and van waiting for your custom but do not rely on this as they may get booked up quickly. Again look in your local paper, on the Internet and in the Trade Magazines for up-to-date information on forth-coming sales.
Antique Fairs can often have too much diversity, there will be furniture, ceramics, paintings and many more specialist stalls all under one roof. It is not uncommon to spend half a day finding one object, although the hunt is fun.
Be aware of modern reproductions and fakes. You will find the occasional fake and reproduction pieces on sale. How to spot these will be explained later in the book.
You will have to haggle on the price. Most stallholders know the exact price of their wares and usually build in 100% mark-up. Try not to be too hasty making an offer. At the end of the day the stallholders may be more open to offers as they will not want to bring all the furniture back home again. The worst that can happen is that they can say no – you have nothing to lose. Local newspapers, the Internet and the Antiques Trade Gazette will inform you of what is on and where.
Car Boot sales can reveal surprising bargains, although you are unlikely to find large pieces of furniture or sets of chairs. These sales can provide fodder on which to improve your skills. For example you can buy a cheap table to practice your French polishing on before you attempt it on a more valuable piece. These will be advertised in local newspapers and on signs in the local area. Calendars can also be bought with the dates of car boot sales from www.carbootcalendar.com.
You may find items that look in complete disrepair however they may be able to be restored.
These are great for finding pieces that will require restoration work. It is unlikely that you will find early period pieces, although with a bit of searching, you may find Edwardian and occasionally Victorian furniture. Be careful though, you will always find reproduction furniture. With careful “faking” or “ageing”, reproduction furniture can be made to look more like an antique.