How to: Invest in antiques

Antiques fairMost of us have sat at home one Sunday and watched some fortunate soul on the television learn that the dusty old vase or bureau they have been harbouring in their garage for years is worth thousands of pounds.

But while not every family heirloom can be sold for a fortune, there is money to be made investing in antiques - as long as you know what you are doing.

Getting started
Investing in antiques is not generally a quick buck game. In fact, most investors regard it as a mid to long-term undertaking, meaning that you are likely to hold on to whatever you buy for a few years at least.

That is why it is crucial to buy items that are to your taste. Once you have decided what you like - whether that be furniture, china or silver goods - it is also a good idea to concentrate solely on that type of antique.

Collections tend to appreciate more in value than a mixture of items, while specialising also ensures that you become proficient at spotting a good deal, as well as trends in your chosen market.

Where to buy
You can find potentially valuable antiques in a wide range of places, including jumble sales, charity shops, antique dealers, auction houses and antique fairs.

While you may well pay more to buy from a reputable dealer or auction house, purchases of this kind have the advantage of being safeguarded with a guarantee of authenticity, especially if the business belongs to an antiques association.

What to look out for
When choosing antiques to invest in, condition is one of the foremost considerations. You can also learn a lot by talking with experienced dealers.

Ceramics and glassware that have no chips or cracks are worth much more than damaged items, and you must take care to keep your antiques in tip top condition once they are in your possession if you want to make money on them.

You should also look out for the finest craftsmanship you can afford and, if possible, check the provenance of the item before purchasing.

How to sell
If you are lucky, the market for the antiques you have invested in will rise. It is therefore worth keeping an eye on prices for similar items on sale at local auctions and through dealers and trying to sell when such goods are popular.

Once you feel that the time is right and have a price in mind, you will then need to find dealers who specialise in similar areas, or head to a local auction.