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Smart Ways to Add Value to Your Antiques

Mukulika Mukherjee Mar 19, 2020
We know you simply adore your enviable collection of antiques, but how can you increase the value of your prized possessions? Well, here are five ways to make your antiques appear a step closer to 'priceless' in the eyes of prospective buyers.
"I collect antiques. Why? Because they're beautiful." - Broderick Crawford

Picture this:

One fine day, probably on your birthday, you receive a beautifully wrapped gift box from your mother. On opening it, you find a beautiful piece of jewelry in vintage design. You immediately know it's an antique and you're even told so.
Needless to say, you're over the moon to receive such a priceless gift, but what next? How do you add value to this classic piece? And even more important, how do you keep it from losing its value?
Antiques are relatively old objects that have significant value, ranging from a few thousands to millions of dollars. The value of an antique is not the actual price of the object, but it is directly proportional to the historical significance attached to it.
In other words, the value of a brooch worn by an erstwhile princess will be many times higher than that of a brooch of similar make that you purchase from the market. Once you get hold of an antique, there are a few things you can do to increase its value. So, here we go...

Research, Research and Research!

Don't know anything about the history of the object you're holding right now? Fret not, for some painstaking research can come to your rescue! Your aim is to gather as much information about the object as possible, from as many sources as you can.
If your antique is a family heirloom, then ask your family members about the owner of the piece. If you picked the object from an antique shop or a dealer, then you were probably given some information regarding the history and ownership of the object. If not, speak to the person who sold you the antique and ask him for information.
You can also effectively use the Internet for your research, and verify the information that is available with you.
For example, if your seller says that the flower vase he sold you belongs to the Victorian era, then you can try to verify this by typing something like 'Victorian flower vase' in the Google Image Search box and compare your vase with the images that come up. Are the motifs and/or the detailing on the handles similar? Well, then your dealer may be right!
While you're at your research, don't forget to look in books and auction catalogs. You never know where you can stumble upon information that can take the value of your antique objects several notches higher! And last but not the least, you can ask someone who is a connoisseur of antiques, for he can provide you with some expert advice.

Document Provenance

The word provenance means "place of origin" and the first step in adding value to your antique is to document its provenance. In other words, you should take efforts to find out whom the piece belonged to, and collect documents in support of the same.
For example, if you know that the antique brooch belonged to your great grandma, then start searching for a photograph or even an old painting that shows her wearing it. In case of an antique painting, one can identify the artist from the name signed on it. The provenance for antiques can be proven in one or more of the given ways.
The provenance for antiques can be proven in one or more of these ways.

► A photograph showing the celebrity or historical figure wearing or using the object, or standing next to it.

► Original sale receipt that shows the name of the person to whom the object belonged.
► Handwritten notes, letters or gift cards that mention the object.

► Newspaper articles that link that object to a particular time period.

►References available online or in books.

Procure Authentication

Once you're convinced about having a valuable antique in your possession, then get it authenticated by an expert, who will conduct the required tests to confirm that the piece is a genuine antique and not a cheap duplicate.
Obtaining a certificate or letter of authentication adds value to your antique as prospective buyers are convinced of its genuineness. However, note that an authentication certificate does not state the value of the artifact or object.
You can take the object to a certified expert even before you have conducted any research on the object or successfully traced its provenance. An expert can provide you with complete information about the object, right from its origin to its age.
There are several techniques that they use, which include carbon dating (using C14 isotope), black light testing, thermoluminescence testing, etc.
Ironic as it may sound, an authentication certificate should not be taken as the ultimate proof of the authenticity of the object. This is because you can never verify the expertise of the person who has issued the certificate.
Thus, it is strictly recommended that you obtain the authentication from an expert yourself before you purchase an antique, all the more so if it is expensive.

Obtain Appraisal

Authentication is sometimes a part of the appraisal process, but not every appraiser will authenticate your antique. This is because it requires a greater expertise to confirm if an object is genuine, as compared to estimating its value.
This is why experts who provide an authentication certificate are very rare. However, you can always inquire if your appraiser would authenticate your antique.
Note that there's a difference between a verbal appraisal and a certificate that documents the same, and the latter adds a greater value to the object. Also, the value of the object is not an exact number but a range.
Just like you should not completely trust an authentication certificate that a seller shows you, you should not be convinced by an appraisal certificate either. Always consult an expert appraiser for a second opinion, before you purchase an antique.
When choosing an appraiser, never go for ones that you find at flea markets or shabby antique shops. If possible, go for expert appraisers who work with famous auction houses. These individuals have long years of experience behind them, and they know their job really well.

Follow Guidelines for Storage

Now that your antiques have added value, make sure that you take proper care to store them so that the value does not deteriorate over time. Here are a few things that you should NEVER do to your antiques.
► Never attempt to clean an antique using household cleaning agents. Doing so can badly damage the patina of vintage items, resulting in devaluation of these products. If at all you feel that antique flower vase you own needs some cleaning, take it to a professional.
► You should refrain from attempts to restore or repaint an antique in your collection.
► You may feel the urge to put old paintings in modern frames, but doing so only takes away from their vintage charm, resulting in loss of value.
► Exposure to sunlight can cause serious damage to works of art and even furniture. Always make sure that you store these valuable items away from the sun.
► Lastly, store these rare collectibles in a temperature-controlled environment that is devoid of excess humidity, if you want them to retain their beauty for long.
These were important pointers that can help you increase the value of your antique collectibles. So, what if you indeed receive a piece of antique jewelry as a gift? Will you take the efforts to keep it valuable forever?