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Is it an antique and is it worth anything? Would you know?
At some point in our lives most of us are going to put in a position where we have to ask ourselves the question- Which of my treasured possesions should I keep because they might be worth something and which can I throw away?
Would you know??
We start our own homes full of enthusiasm and with all the lovely clutter that makes up our lives and that of the family, but as time goes on, the children leave home, we decide to move to a smaller house or maybe we decide to live abroad. At that stage we have to decide what to keep and what to part with.
As an antique dealer for many years I'm often invited into homes to assist customers with just that question - or with a cry for HELP!!
Well, we all have items we wouldn't part with for a million pounds, precious bits and pieces passed down from parents and little presents from partners, children and grandchildren. Then there's the layer of semi-precious items that, to make a bit more room, we could part with. Put these to one side and we'll come back to them later - our second best treasures.
But the 'cupboard fillers' are quite a different matter! How many teas services, lace cloths and glasses do we need? In fact, be really honest, when was the last time you set the table with a starched cloth and all the cutlery amd glassware matching?
Call me a slut, but I usually serve friends with tea in china beakers. Wine is poured into glasses that are dish-washer friendly and the crockery and cutlery is an interesting ........... mish-mash. It's the company and stimulating converstion that's important I tell myself.
So what should we keep and what should we part with? We've carefully put our special treasures to one side and now we must invite the children in to look through the 'second best' treasures.
Make sure they have a chance to refuse any bits you're thinking of parting with. An old scruffy chair to your way of thinking might be a favorite to them and the comfy setting for many a bedtime story.
On a personal note after my mum died, my sister and I were clearing her things and we found an enamelled dish of little value. Ir was put on one side to give to the charity shop when my son asked if he could have 'the money dish'. "Which money dish" I asked. "The one that gran always kept the pound coins in to give us when we visited". Luckily the 'money dish' was passed on to a very happy grandson.
So now the children, and possibly the grandchildren, have had their pick. Time to decide what to do with the rest. Space might determine how thorough the pruning must be, but it's worth knowing what you could sell and what you may have to give away.
Even antiques come and go 'in fashion'. At the moment the style is minimalist. One carefully placed figurine, one item of polished glassware, not the over-the-top, not an inch of wall showing, style of the Victorians!
Anything that needs polishing, ie, copper, brass, silver and silver plated items are unpopular especially with the younger generation who manage to juggle a full-on family/working life. Equally, if it won't go in the dishwasher, it's a bit of a no-no!
So we're narrowing the field of what we can easily sell.
Small, exquisite, exciting little pieces are desirable. It's easy to get good prices for antique sewing items, silver thimbles, old needle holders, silk winders, buttons, even wooden cotton reels and pin cushions.
Another highly collectable area is - drinking! Old cork screws, bottle openers, wine and spirit labels, champagne taps, spirit measures and the pub water jugs for serving up with a glass of whisky.
Check through your drawers for old fountain pens and pencils and boys will be boys so hang on to any sporting memorabilia. Would you believe that a feather filled golf ball fetched £6,000 and old golf clubs, tennis rackets and snooker cues and balls are highly collectable.
Smoking acessories are politically incorrect, but old silver vesta cases, cigar cutters and interesting cigarette lighters can fetch a tidy sum.
Don't neglect the children's toy cupboard. Early tin toys, lead soldiers and more recently Star Wars and James Bond can raise much needed cash. Would you fancy parting with over £1,000 for a Victorian marble? Well it's happened with a German end-of-the-day onionskin marble, so sift with care.
So there's a few tips when planning a bit of a life laundry. Lots more advice to follow because I have a little corner of the shop at present where I'm selling vintage clothing, shoes, handbage and costume jewellery and it's going down very well, especially with the younger age group.
Until then, happy spring cleaning!!
Loads of similar articles and a newsletter and resources for Antiques and Collectibles at: http://www.architus.com
We run a small but beautifully formed General Antiques Shop which is situated in Kirkby Lonsdale In the Yorkshire Dales/Cumbria Border.