How to make money from selling antiques

Can you turn a passion for precious goods and old furniture into cash?

Luke Sparkes
12 Oct 2019

It is possible to make serious cash by investing in art or jewellery, or even precious metals such as gold itself: just be prepared to put in some serious research.

Adrian Pett, owner of Darnley Fine Art, says programmes like the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow have made it look easy. But for savers, precious things may not necessarily generate returns – or even increase in value over time.

He says: “It is true that some people have bought items for very little and had huge returns, such as the stories told on Antiques Roadshow. Or those who specialise in a certain artist or period and have bought a painting for £10,000 and resold it for millions.”

For most though, it’s really the same as any investment: making any money will require a serious time investment. “The more cash and research put in, the better the return,” says Adrian.

Art, antiques or both?

Investing in art or antiques on a long-term basis means finding a dealer. Adrian says that, as a dealer, he is able to put sellers in touch with buyers.

He explains: “We have had cases where a client has bought a picture and then the following year another person is after the same thing, so the first client is asked if they are willing to sell at a profit to them.”

Finding a reputable art dealer will involve some research in itself but Adrian says that is part of your investment.

James Constantinou, a presenter on Channel 4’s Posh Pawn and founder of Prestige Pawnbrokers, warns that it is easy to overvalue an item if you like it.

Avoiding fakes

James says there is no 100 per cent foolproof way to avoid fakes but when buying through a dealer, make sure you have all the paperwork and any associated provenance details.

He adds: “Look out for the use of modern materials or production methods, hallmarks that may validate items or signs of authentication.”

You should also expect some wear and tear as most antiques will have been produced more than 100 years ago. James adds: “It’s important to look for any damage, repairs or personalisation, such as engravings, likely to impact the value of a piece. If possible, it is good to know how an item has been cared for, cleaned, repaired and stored. Look for signs of damage by light, heat or smoke and take time to examine items properly before making an offer.”

Part of your investment means getting the right price. James says: “Remember that a seller probably wants to sell an item more than you want to buy it – so always negotiate and have the confidence to remain calm and in control while you to-and-fro over the cost.”

Adapted from the article How to make money from selling antiques – the fine art explained

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