The guide to buying antiques for beginners and where to find unique, vintage pieces in Suffolk
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Are you considering buying an antique but don’t know where to start? We spoke to Richard Barnes, owner of antiques and vintage store Suffolk Heritage, to learn where to start when buying an antique, how to spot a real antique from a fake and the amazing selection the shop has to offer.
Q: What should I consider when buying antiques?
I would recommend doing your research before you set out on your shopping trip. If you do this, you’ll be confident talking to the experts, and it will be easier for you to determine what period an item was made in.
Anything that is proven to be over 100 years old is classed as an antique. A lot of stores manufacture items to look like antiques, so it’s important that you look carefully at what is being sold.
The tell-tale sign that something isn’t an antique is if the item is in pristine condition. It’s normal for a real antique to show some wear and tear – they’re usually pretty old! If the item isn’t one-of-a-kind or has new screws, it probably isn’t a real antique.
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If you are new to buying antiques, it’s also important not to get carried away and instead to consider whether they will fit in your home.
Q: Why should people buy antique or vintage furniture?
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The brilliant thing about antiques is that they are unique. You are unlikely to find a piece of furniture you pick up in an antique shop in someone else’s home. What makes these items desirable is that they’re rare and often one-of-a-kind.
There’s always a story behind an antique piece of furniture. You probably won’t ever know the story but if you know the era it was made you can imagine what kind of home it would have been and the kind of family that would have owned it.
In my opinion, things were simply made better back in the day; there’s a reason you can still use antique furniture - it was made to be incredibly durable.
If you are someone who has saved money during coronavirus, this may be the best time to invest in a special antique.
Q: What kind of antiques do you sell at Suffolk Heritage?
The list of antiques we sell is endless. We always have new items coming in and offer pieces from an incredible range of specialist antiques dealers.
Personally, I specialise in antique English pine furniture – which I also restore – and period ironmongery and lighting. But, each of our antiques dealers are specialists in their own areas and therefore the shop has a real eclectic mix of pieces.
Q: Is the shop open and safe for customers?
We will be open on June 17 with measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
We have implemented a one-way system and divided the shop into small sections and have marked this on the floor for effective social distancing. At the moment, only one household will be able to enter a section at a time and we will be restricting the number of people inside the shop. We have ensured there is enough space outside so that people can form a social distanced queue if need be.
Customers will be encouraged to pay by card (contactless if £45 and under) and the card machine will be cleaned after every use. All touchpoints will also be wiped down on a regular basis.
We have installed a plastic guard at our counter and will manage a queuing system to ensure that people are able to social distance.
Q: How will you ensure the antiques are clean without damaging them?
This is obviously difficult, and we will do what we can to minimise the risk. However, it is preferable that customers don’t touch any items unless they intend to make a purchase.
We have set up a cleaning station at the entrance to the shop with hand sanitiser and disposable gloves and ask that customers take advantage of this before entering.