How to assess antiques & vintage products
Wood Furniture1. Trust your gut.🥸
It is most likely new if it looks new. Observe the nails closely: Newer, shinier nails indicate newer construction.
2. Look for dovetails🥰
A piece made by a cabinetmaker will have dovetail joints, which hold wood furniture together without nails or other hardware. In general, thinner dovetails indicate a more skilled cabinetmaker (and better quality).
3. Inspect the hardware🤭
Look closely at drawer pulls and other hardware. If the drawer is truly vintage, it should reveal a post-and-nut construction on the inside. Also check for dirt, dust, and wear around the pulls; these are signs that the hardware is original.
4. Rethink shine and polish🥱
Even though refinished wood furniture looks clean and shiny, it can lose value since collectors prefer the original, weathered finish. As such, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the choice is yours.
5. Get a little dirty🤧
Assessing an item's condition might require you to get down on your hands and knees. Look underneath tables, inside drawers, and over pieces for stamps, labels, signatures, or other markings that may provide context.
1. Look at the knots.
Knot count is one feature that can help you determine quality without an expert's help. Generally, a tighter knot translates to higher quality (and by extension, higher price).
2. Check for fraying
Avoid untied edges and excessive fraying. Once a loose end occurs in a handmade rug, it's only a matter of time before the entire thing unravels.
3.… But don’t be afraid of imperfections
Vintage rugs are unlikely to be in perfect condition unless they have been stored for years. A piece's uneven piling, discoloration, or slight wear and tear only adds to its charm and history.
4. Have a function in mind.
What is the intended location for the rug? In a busy area, make sure it's sturdy enough to handle foot traffic.
5. Give it a wash
You shouldn't ignore a rug just because it has that dusty antique smell (the fibers are at least decades old!). After a professional cleaning, airing it outside once a year will keep it fresh.
1. Discern paintings from prints
Print reproductions are made with tiny dots (so get close!) meant to mimic the painterly brushstrokes of original artwork. To avoid overpaying, it's good to know what you're getting before you buy prints.
2. Seek out craquelure
Look for craquelure. The fine cracks that appear on the surface of aged paintings are called craquelure. It is something you want and is not in any way indicative of poor condition; craquelure denotes authenticity and is highly sought after by collectors.
3. Check out the frames and nails
Frame quality, condition, and appearance can help date a work. Take a look at the back of the work: If the wood of the frame is dark or stained, then it has likely been around for a while, The darker and more bronze-looking the gold is on gold-tone frames, the older the piece is likely to be. Framer labels are often found on the back of artworks, and you can narrow down the age range by searching online.
4. Look for artworks—or frames—by themselves
Although ready-to-hang artwork is convenient, some of the best deals can be found on unframed works.
5. Ask for provenance
If you’re paying a lot for a piece, be sure to get as much information from the dealer as possible, such as where it’s from and how old it might be. If there are documents that accompany the work, even better.
1. Know the difference between silver plate and sterling silver.
There’s nothing wrong with silver plate—it’s a wonderful way to bring home the elegant look of silver without the high price tag. But what exactly makes sterling more superior? For one, it holds its value, retaining a high resale price no matter its age, whereas silver plate does not. It also really stands up to the test of time: Sterling can last hundreds of years if properly taken care of.
2. Bring a magnet.
You can easily tell if a piece is sterling with this simple trick. Hold a small magnet up to the design. If the magnet adheres, then the piece is not sterling and is likely plated silver or something else. A magnet will not be attracted to true sterling silver.
3. Check the marks.
Both silver-plate and sterling-silver pieces will bear multiple marks of some kind. American sterling is typically marked with “925,” meaning the piece is made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another type of metal. English sterling traditionally features a lion marking along with several other marks that indicate the city of origin, the monarch in power at the time of its creation, and the year it was made.
4. Be aware of the market price.
The value of silver is determined by the current market rate, meaning the price often rises and falls. Keep this in mind as you shop—and if you’re lucky, you might be able to use it as a bargaining tool.
Porcelain and Ceramics
1. Conduct the light test.
To ascertain whether a design is true porcelain, take out your phone, hold it up to the piece, and see if the light shines through. If it does, then the piece is porcelain. If it doesn’t, the item is likely stoneware or earthenware.
2. Discern transferware from hand-painted pieces.
Take a close look at the edges of a piece. If the pattern is cut off at the lip of a dish, then it’s likely transferware, which means the design was printed onto the piece and not hand-painted. Designs done by hand will have a fuller, more fluid pattern, complete with brushstroke details and minor imperfections.
3. Look for marks.
Symbols on the underside of a piece can help you determine when a piece was made. Hand-painted marks on ceramics suggest an 18th-century origin or earlier, while impressed or printed marks denote a more recent date.
1. Inspect every inch.
Textiles are often folded up at antiques markets. Make sure to open them up and inspect every inch so that you’re not surprised to find damage when you get home.
2. Find human error.
As with most other things vintage, a little imperfection in a textile can be a good thing. Look for details such as uneven stitching, which means a piece was made by hand and not by a machine.
3. Look at the back.
Flipping a piece of fabric over can be a great indicator of its quality and age. Synthetic or new fabrics likely have a solid-color back (like white), while older, more authentic designs will show color and pattern on both sides.
4. Assess the damage.
Remember that wear from age isn’t always bad—a little tattering or fraying adds character. We recommend drawing the line when it comes to things like stains or damage from insects or pets.
5. Stay away from bulk.
If a vendor has a large stock of a certain fabric, it’s likely not very old, so avoid it if you’re looking for something with real history. (On the other hand, if you love it, then buy it!).
this article from https://www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/vintage-antique-shopping-tips/