How To Start An
Mary Claire Boyd, Fair Director at the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia shares her top tips on starting an antiques collection for the first time
Antiques are rising in popularity thanks partly to the increase in the need for sustainability and the demise of the short-lived, throw-away culture. They will last for hundreds of years if looked after and many are currently very affordable especially when compared to mass produced alternatives.
Visit fairs and galleries
In order to train your eye and find your own style it is worth visiting art and antiques fairs as well as museums and national galleries to discover what you are drawn to. At top London fairs like the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, there is an extraordinary variety, with works ranging from Matisse to Meissen, Gillow to Archibald and Lalique to Warhol, all under one roof, as well as affordable pieces priced from a few hundred pounds.
Build up relationships with dealers. Once they know you, they will hunt things down for you based on your taste and budget. They have the expertise based on years of experience to know when something is genuine and are well practised at finding specific works. Tap into their expertise and keep asking questions along the way. Some will even let you try it in your home before you commit to purchase.
My recommendation is to start small, buy a little at a time as you develop your style and tastes. See what you’re drawn to and go from there. You don’t need to buy something big or the most expensive pieces straight away.
Seek interiors advice
If you’re unsure, seek advice from a dealer on where, in your house, a piece they are selling might go. Both furniture and picture dealers are experts at placing or hanging works in the best place for maximum style and impact. Some furniture dealers have built up interior design skills from years of placing various pieces into completely different spaces for clients. Their clients’ houses will vary from small urban flats to large country farmhouses. Don’t be afraid to put old pieces in new houses and vice versa as well as mixing styles and eras.
Come armed with measurements
If shopping for large pieces of furniture, make sure you shop armed with measurements. The last thing you want to do is make a purchase only to find it doesn’t fit in the room!
Making that first purchase can be daunting so make sure you protect yourself. At larger antiques fairs and events, the items are vetted by teams of at least 60 experts who check every item to ensure authenticity. And, for out of fair seasons, it is worth buying from a dealer who is a member of either BADA or LAPADA, the two key trade associations for the art and antiques world.
Love what you’re buying
The chances are you are going to be investing a significant amount of money on your collection so be sure to absolutely love the piece you’re buying. Have a personal resonance with it – an emotional connection that will stand the test of time.
The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia
18th-28th June 2020