How to make money from antiques

Many of us will have marvelled at the sometimes astonishing finds that turn up on the Antiques Roadshow but if you haven't got a forgotten Picasso or a Fabergé egg knocking about in the attic, is it still possible to make money from antiques?

Antique furniture
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The answer is yes, but it can be a tricky business. Here are a few tips if you're looking to make a little cash from your antiques hobby.

Know your stuff
Though you are unlikely to reach the level of the experts without years of experience and background knowledge, knowing what you are looking for in terms of authenticity is a must. Antiques magazines are plentiful and the internet can also provide a valuable resource for researching the signs of a good buy so read as much as you can, especially if you have a particular area of interest such as ceramics, art or furniture.

The more you know, the greater your chances of making a good find.

Widen the search
Antiques dealers and experts will often search high and low for a valuable piece so grabbing the first thing you see may not be the best move. Both online retailers and antique shops will generally know what they have and exactly how much it's worth so, though they may be useful for research, you're unlikely to pick up a bargain.

Boot fairs, antiques fairs and even eBay can offer up the odd gem (so long as you know what you're looking at) and a small, local auction house may even contain a few surprises so widen your search and you might just end up with a bargain.

Move with the times
Trends and fashions play a large part in the antiques market - what was highly desirable 20 years ago may not be in today's market and so on. Once again, check the antiques magazines and search online to find out what is currently fetching a high price at auction and you'll be able to keep your eyes peeled for similar items.

Of course, if you are prepared to wait (and take something of a risk) you may well be able to snap up out-of-fashion items at a bargain price with the chance that they will return to favour. However, if you try this method the advice is not to buy anything that you don't like or you may end up with a home full of junk that nobody wants to buy.

Leave well alone
Should you find a piece that you believe may be valuable do not make the age-old mistake of attempting to clean or repair it. Painting furniture, cleaning paintings and taking modern cleaning products to the silver may decrease their value so it's best to leave well alone unless you have expert advice. Remember, the more original the condition, the more valuable the piece.

Flog it
The chances are you will like any pieces that you buy but if you become emotionally attached to every item, you're never going to make any money. Should you come across a desirable, and potentially valuable piece head for an antiques appraisal company to get an idea of its true value. This way you can decide to sell or not to sell, safe in the knowledge that you won't be settling for a lower price. After all, if you have to hang on to it for a while the price may just go up!

So do your research, choose carefully and you never know... you might just hit a goldmine.