It’s important to understand the origins of antique furniture, not the actual source of manufacture, but where the most successful buyers find the best bargains. Many would be antique furniture buyers mis-understand the acquisition process, wasting valuable time searching in stereotypical places where they believe that they will find hoards of cheap old furniture in great abundance. A true understanding of where antiques originate seems to have eluded many well meaning antique dealers and collectors.
If you want to come across a untapped source of bargain items, antiques and collectibles, you need to stop thinking like a casual shopper and like a true furniture hunter! True bargains are not found at auctions, or at flea markets, or at furniture fairs. Antiques originate in people’s homes. This is a fundamental truth for 99% of all antiques that you will ever see, at some point, they have been part of someone’s personal collection of furniture, perhaps passed down through generations, before they become surplus to requirements and are put up to be sold.
This is the main reason why you will find antique furniture in the homes of people who are older. Young people do not, as a general rule have antiques in the abundance that older people do. Why? Because older people came from a post war generation that threw nothing away, indeed, they lived by the motto of “make-do and mend” – you will find that a majority of the time they have kept everything they’ve ever owned! From the 1950′s toys in the loft space to the retro kettle that was just too good to throw away, the older generation in many cases will hang onto everything they ever owned. Not only this, but older pieces of furniture were built by hand over time by master craftsmen, putting great care and attention into the work and building them from big, heavy pieces of solid wood. Classic Oak furniture for example isn’t made in a factory by a machine, it’s made by men who have learnt skills passed down through time.
Understanding where the best places to find furniture, and why these old pieces of furniture stand the tests of time is only a part of the challenge. Knowing that antiques originate in people’s homes, and that antiques are most likely to reside in older people’s homes, where will you be attempting to spend a majority of your hunting time? While the answer to this question may now seem obvious, putting this knowledge into practice is a little harder.
Try to make contact with companies that specialize in house clearances. These guys will be visiting houses on a daily basis, maybe even two or more a day. Give them a rough idea in the types of furniture in which you specialize, maybe take a few photos to give them visual clues, and ask them to call you if they find a house that has the sort of furniture which you wish to acquire. However don’t give too much of the game away, or they may start charging you a premium for the furniture they help you find. Go to garage sales, car boot sales and places where untrained everyday people get rid of the things they don’t want. You may have to search through a lot of junk but with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work the hunt will pay off. Be clear about what you’re hoping to find and keep in touch with those people who are digging through houses on a daily basis and you’ll soon find you have a collection of antique furniture of which you could have once only dreamed of owning.