Love antiques? That’s great. But beware, all that glitters is not gold. Learned that the hard way, and it wasn’t even my first purchase. Since, I do my homework or I do not buy. And I only trust few antique stores Melbourne; you know what they say, “A burnt child dreads the fire”.
I really don’t know how this happened; I can’t remember when was the last time I bought something from an antique store in Melbourne so recklessly without doing my research and planning on the item first. I was like ‘Oh, here’s a nice coffee table, let me ask about it‘ and once the woman in the store carefully analyzed me and realized I was so much interested in it, she got me with her story “not just that this table is so good looking, it’s a rare antique. It has a long history and it comes from the Russian Royal family of Romanov. It was brought to Australia by some of their long-distance relatives, which is why it has such high price. It really is a valuable piece‘.
I have no idea how I fell for all this, but I did buy the table, and was deeply convinced it was an antique. I carefully placed it at the back of my car and hurried back home to find a suitable place for my new object of design worship. While driving back home, I was thinking about what my mum would say about my new treasure: “Why are you buying antiques, the world moves forward and you’re going backwards!” I started giggling, because she doesn’t understand antiques like I do: antique pieces are built from high-quality materials that will not be used for mass produced pieces; they are built to last and that is what makes them such a worthy investment. Plus, they have history, a spirit attached to them, which is even more attractive from my perspective.
I placed my new antique coffee table in front of the huge glass walls facing the backyard and added two sofa chairs made with wooden elements to create a place where me and my hubby would take our morning coffee before he goes to work. I decorated my new morning coffee area with some nice pillows and cozy blankets and like I always do, stepped a few meters back to see the whole picture. Something instantly alarmed my designer sense. The table did not have that oldish, kind of damaged, cracked look that antiques have; something I completely forgot to take into account while I was at the store, blinded by the overall beauty of the table. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert in forgery. I immediately took my laptop and started searching for the table. The seller was quite clear: “ An antique coffee table from the Romanov Dynasty period that was worth the cost “ and it was quite a cost!
So, my research started by searching for the piece in all antique stores Melbourne listed as such. Imagine my rage when I could not find anything with the words Romanov and coffee table. I was furious! That much money for a coffee table I could have made on my own?! Oh, the disappointment.
However, I could not go back since they had ‘no-return policy’ regardless whether you have been cheated or not. Plus, it was not their mistake; it was all mine and they simply took advantage of it. So, before doing such a mistake as I did, beware. For that reason, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when buying antiques.
First of all, follow your heart, but take your brain with you! If you like a piece, make a plan where are you going to place it, what are you going to decorate it with and how are you going to use it, and then:
- Check it! A quality antique piece would normally be taken good care of: no broken parts, no intentional cracks and definitely no stains!
- Provenance. I guess I was so into my sudden idea of how I’m going to create my morning coffee-love-area with this table that I completely forgot to ask for the documentation of the table: a receipt containing info such as where it was bought from, to whom it belonged and similar. The story of Romanov sounded so great I did not bother to check the facts. After all, Russia is so far away I supposed it was all true.
So ladies, as an interior designer and from this personal,very expensive experience, I kindly and very friendly advise you to be very prepared when you go antique shopping. Don’t get confused, it’s something you should do with a plan and a solid research up front so you don’t get fooled like I did.