In order for any item to be officially considered as being an antique, by definition it should be a hundred years old. This certainly applies to most items, such as furniture, silverware, porcelain etc. However, often any item that is out of date or somewhat collectible, is generically called antique by stores and others, in the field of collecting. Moreover in certain fields, antiques just means old, such as antique cars. We restrict our use of the term to items that we believe are over a century old
We feel strongly that one cannot properly appraise an item and then buy that item. Plain and simply: This is a conflict of interest. If an item is of interest to us, the most we will do, is give a proper informed appraisal, recommend a good reputable auction house, attend that auction, then bid on that item, as others can. In so doing we remove this any conflict.
We will however be glad to recommend to you, what we feel is the best methodology for you to sell your items, as part of any of our services, if you so desire.
However, if your item is of sufficient value and we feel that there is sufficient demand for that item we may be interested in facilitating the sale of that item (our brokerage service).
Are antiques a good investment? Yes! Especially when compared to modern items such as furniture. Consider that you go and buy a table from a high volume store. Once you take it home it is worth 50% of what you paid. Once you use it, it becomes worth 40% of what you paid. Once you scatch it, it becomes worth 10% . Note: Most modern furniture cannot be refinished due to thinness of veneers and/or the fact that they are made of materials like masonite so why bother .
With antiques not only do you get superior quality, and the ability to use it, but when you are done using it, you can at least get some of your money back and often more than you paid.
Having said that the sad reality is that right now in the middle of 2010 antiques and artwork are actually selling for less than they did a few years back. There are several reasons: 1) the Canadian dollars is relatively high, hence more power for the buck. 2) The economy has people scared to spend. 3) Main reason: Sadly people 20-40 do not buy quality, which is to say they prefer to waste their money on poor quality furniture and electronics i.e. buy a disposable couch because it comes with a disposable 50" tv. All of which is not particularly environmentally friendly.
Good news becomes that you can buy many antiques at auctions (and often from stores) for less than you could previously.
Bottom line: If you want to be green, then buy and use antiques. If you do not care about the environment, then do as your neighbours do and live a disposable lif
This comes down to a case by case, and what you want. If the antique is Georgian or earlier (i.e. pre 1840) then it should not be stripped and refinished unless it gets done by a proffessional who does French polish. It is very hard to find someone who does (I actually know of noone in Ottawa who does this, so if you do please let us know).
So rather than refinish we often suggest a a wipe with a rag dampened with a good furniture oil.
In general Victorian antiques should also be left alone. However, if your vanity prevents you from living with the scratches etc, then you can have them refinished, with the following knowledge. In a hundred years they probably will not be worth what an original untouched piece is worth.
More often it is a case of granny's dinning room set from the 1920's or 30's. Well technically these are not yet antiques. However, they are often solid wood or have veneers, which are generally thick enough to be sanded/refinished several times. Therefore, they can and should be refinished. In so doing you will have a high quality dining room set that will last generations. And no you will not get your money back. It will cost a few thousand to have a set refinished, yet the set will probably only have a market value of slightly less than that. However, it is still better than buying from a high volume store wherein the value becomes 50% once you walk out of the stores door, and quickly drops to 10% after a year or two of use.
Also concerning veneers: The same cannot be said of late 20th century furniture, wherein if you try to the sand the veneer, well odds are you are going to sand through it and have to put on a new veneer. One of the many reasons that most modern furniture becomes worthless very quickly. Yes, the age of disposable furniture, is here. It is very ironic that people like such things, and then they have the gull to claim that they are environmentally friendly.