Investing in Antiques: A Guide for Novice Collectors

Posted on July 14th, 2023

The world of antiques is filled with intrigue and beauty, offering a palpable connection to the past and its rich tapestry of cultures, crafts, and lifestyles. However, delving into antique collection, especially with an intent to invest, can be quite a daunting prospect for a novice collector. This comprehensive guide by L&E Reid Antiques, your trusted partner located in the historic town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, aims to simplify this process for you.

Understanding What Makes an Antique

The term 'antique' is used to describe an object that is at least 100 years old, according to the U.S. Customs. In contrast, vintage items are generally 50 to 99 years old, and collectibles can be any age. These terminologies and their definitions are essential to remember when you commence your antique-collecting journey.

Research, Research, Research

The cornerstone of antique collecting and investing is in-depth research. This includes understanding different periods and styles, learning about various types of antiques (furniture, ceramics, silverware, etc.), recognizing hallmarks, and familiarizing oneself with the factors that add to an item's value. Joining local antique clubs, attending auctions, and visiting museums can provide valuable insights.

Decide Your Area of Interest

Antiques cover a vast array of items, from furniture and glassware to paintings and jewelry. As a novice collector, it may be beneficial to narrow down your focus to one or two areas of interest. This approach allows you to build your expertise in those areas before expanding to others.

Condition Matters

An antique's condition significantly affects its value. Items that are in good condition, without any significant damage or alterations, tend to fetch higher prices. However, remember that 'wear and tear' or 'patina' on antique items often adds to their charm and authenticity.

Quality Over Quantity

When investing in antiques, aim for quality over quantity. It's better to have a few pieces of high value rather than several of lesser value. An expertly crafted Scottish Orkney Chair or an exquisite Italian Majolica wall hanging can serve as a significant asset in your antique collection.

Provenance and Documentation

Provenance, or the item's history of ownership, can greatly increase an antique's value. Items with well-documented provenance are usually considered more desirable. Similarly, any certificates of authenticity, valuations, or other supporting documents can add to an item's value and desirability.

Consider the Current Market Trends

While antiques are often considered a stable investment, market trends can influence the value of certain types of items. Keep an eye on the market and understand what's in demand.

Develop a Relationship with a Reputable Dealer

Developing a relationship with a reputable antique dealer can provide a wealth of knowledge and advice. They can guide you on what to buy, help you avoid potential pitfalls, and may even offer you first dibs on new pieces they acquire. As a reputable antique dealer, L&E Reid Antiques is always ready to assist in your antique collecting journey.

Think Long-Term

Investing in antiques is usually a long-term commitment. While some items may appreciate rapidly in value, most will appreciate over several years. Consider it as a form of 'savings account,' where the interest is the pleasure you derive from owning and displaying beautiful pieces of history.


Once you start building a valuable collection, consider getting your antiques insured. Make sure the insurance value covers the cost of replacement or the current retail price. Regularly updating your inventory and insurance valuations is also recommended.


While restoring an antique can sometimes increase its value, poorly done restorations can significantly decrease it. If a piece requires restoration, it's best to consult with a professional restorer who specializes in the type of antique you own.

Diversify Your Collection

While it's beneficial to specialize in one area, diversifying your collection over time can spread risk and potentially increase investment returns. An eclectic mix of high-quality antiques across different categories can add value to your collection.

Antique collecting is an exciting journey into the past, offering both tangible and intangible returns. It not only provides a sense of fulfillment and joy but also serves as a potentially profitable investment over time. The journey, however, can be riddled with complexities, but with due diligence, research, patience, and guidance, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Beware of Fakes and Reproductions

In the exciting world of antiques, unfortunately, not everything is as it seems. The market has its share of fakes and reproductions. Therefore, learning how to spot these impostors is critical. This can be achieved through research and hands-on experience. Over time, you'll develop an instinct for distinguishing the genuine from the fraudulent. Key factors include examining the construction techniques, looking for signs of age, and comparing the item to authenticated examples.

Consider the Aesthetic Appeal

While investing in antiques is often seen purely as a financial endeavor, the aesthetic value of the items should not be underestimated. Owning and displaying antiques that resonate with your personal style and taste can bring immense satisfaction. They add character and personality to your space, often serving as conversation starters.

Invest in What You Love

This might sound cliche, but it's an essential aspect of antique collecting and investing. The truth is, the market can be unpredictable, and the value of antiques can fluctuate. By investing in pieces you genuinely love, you'll always value them, regardless of their market worth.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your antiques are crucial to retain their condition and, therefore, their value. Different materials require different care routines. For instance, wood furniture should be kept away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent warping or fading. Similarly, silver should be regularly polished to prevent tarnishing. Ensuring your precious antiques are well looked after will enhance their longevity and value.

Investing in Antiques as a Legacy

Antiques can serve as a tangible connection to the past that can be passed down through generations, adding a sentimental dimension to their financial value. Building an antique collection can be seen as building a legacy, a piece of history that you can leave behind.

In conclusion, entering the world of antique collecting and investing may seem intimidating at first. However, with a curious mind, a keen eye, a dedicated approach to learning, and a little help from experts, it can be an engaging, enriching, and rewarding endeavor.

As you set foot into this world, remember that we at L&E Reid Antiques are always here to guide you. Our seasoned team, backed by years of experience and passion for antiques, can provide the insights and advice you need to navigate this exciting journey. Feel free to reach out to us at (508) 332 9028 or drop an email at [email protected] for any queries or assistance. As we always say, every antique has a story to tell, and we invite you to be a part of these fascinating tales as you build your collection and investment portfolio.

Reach Out

Relive the Past with Elegance

Reach out to us! We're excited to help you delve into the world of antiques. Whether you're a seasoned collector or just beginning your journey, our experts at L&E Reid Antiques are here to assist you.