WHAT IS AN ANTIQUE?
As a general rule, items are regarded as 'antique' if they are more than 100 years old, and anything more recent is termed a
'collectable'. A piece's value, however, is not necessarily related to its age.
In today's market, an antique isn't automatically valuable, any more than a recent collectable will necessarily he cheap.
Much depends on the quality, rarity and desirability of an object, plus the demand for what happens to he orrently in fashion.
For example, a well-decorated, stylish piece of Clarice Cliff or Susie Cooper
pottery, made in the 1930s, can cost as much as, if not more than, an example of early Victorian pottery.
The word 'desirable' is the key factor in both the
antiques and collectibles trade, and collectables trade, and that will be linked directly with what you, as a collector, find appealing.
Not many people collect old carpet sweepers, for example, and these can often be
picked up for £5 or less. Yet, at a recent auction, two people both decided that they wanted the carpet sweeper that was on offer and, as a result, the bidding went to £24.
To check whether an item is antique or not, it is important that you are familiar with genuine old pieces. That means visiting antiques
shops and antiques fairs, and handling whatever it is you're interested in, whether it be glass, china or furniture.
Get to know the dealers, too; they are only too willing to chat to you and share their knowledge - after all, you are a potential customer, even if you don't buy from them this time.
Learn also to recognize the makers' marks on china, hallmarks on silver
and gold, names of collectable artists for prints and postcards, period styles and the construction of furniture.
Collectables take many forms, from bus tickets to art deco
figurines. Art deco collectables are extremely desirable, but not everything that was made in the
1930s is art deco. The term refers to the use of bold, strident colours and/or decisive, geometric or angular shapes.
Items from the 1950s are already immensely collectable and the date for collectables is moving ever
with such things as fibre optic lamps from the 1970s now being sought.
If you're collecting for yourself, then buy what you
like. Never buy simply as an investment. It's much better to splash out on something you'll enjoy looking at, and get pleasure out of owning. Always go for quality, even if it does cost that little bit more.
A good piece will hold its price and increase in value far better than a similar item from an inferior factory. In the same way, avoid damaged or restored pieces unless they fill that vital gap in your collection, and can be later replaced.
Collectables seem to go in trends far more than antiques do. Take ceramics, for
example. A signed Worcester vase or a Bow shepherdess - both antiques - will always he at a premium, whereas the demand for
20th-century ceramics rises and falls with fashion.
Two or three years ago, Poole pottery was fetching incredibly high prices at auction; now, the prices have levelled out and, apart from rare and/or exceptional pieces, it can be
found for less money than in 1990.
When this kind of thing happens, dealers often
'salt' away the goods, hoping that the price will once again
This may explain why the source of your particular collectable seems to have dried up.
Car boot fairs and
jumble sales are often good hunting grounds for collectables from the 1950s onwards. Fifties' lava lamps, with their columns of liquid and wax globules, can be found for very little money - far less than at a specialist lighting shop or at an antiques and collectables fair.
There are many excellent reference books on the market; for example, one book explains clearly how to date and identify a cup from the shape of its body and its handle.
Specialist books are available on a wide range of subjects, and many can be borrowed from your local library. Some collectors find that the knowledge gained from research is as exciting as
antique or collectable.