Buying Antiques at Auction

With a lot of antique auctions beauty and value can be in the eye of the beholder (or bidder!). Possibly the most important duty when buying expensive antiques is validating there authenticity. This can be via documentation provided ( which needs to be authenticated itself) or via industry professionals.

The library can be a useful resource, as well as the internet, for researching antique items. Also see: and

What is an Antique?
An antique is generally considered to be 70 to 100 years old. This is of course not the only determining factor in it’s overall worth as we shall see. Value is determined by many factors, age, limited production or rarity, uniqueness, quality and individual taste. For example some of todays’ mass produced furniture would not be valuable in 100 years probably (and we always have to say that, because who knows?) because they would be far too plentiful, of inferior workmanship and not particularly unique. Whereas the local furniture maker who is making everything painstakingly perfect in his home shop and with the highest of standards, would be a much more likely candidate for antique status in 100 years.

How do you tell what is an antique?
There are many tell tale signs that one can begin to discern right away. Obviously this is a subject that requires much research and learning and cannot be entered into lightly as one could easily spend a fortune with nothing to show except some very fine re-productions or even forgeries!

Handy things to take to the auction:
A measuring tape – if your buying antique furniture for the home it is worth knowing it will fit where you want it too!

A torch – Auction rooms and warehouses can typically be very dark and a torch is useful for inspecting the nooks and crannies of piece that may be hiding scratches, cracks etc. or for finding manufacturer marks and signatures. A magnifying glass is also useful.

Reference guides – reference guides, such as Carters Price Guides to Antiques,  can be handy for clarifying details about the specific items you are viewing.

Also never be afraid to ask questions, most auction centre staff can be quite helpful if you ask the right questions. There is also much to gain from a good inspection of items prior to sale, look for shoddy repairs and again for anything that may shed doubt on it’s authenticity.

Current items at Australian online antique auctions

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