What is Antiquing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Antiquing can refer to two different things. In the first sense, it means going out and shopping or looking for antiques in a variety of locations. In the second sense, it refers to applying special treatments to furniture to make it appear antique. Given that the two concepts have very different meanings, the intent is usually clear from the context.

The first sense of antiquing is immensely popular in some regions of the world. Antiques can be found at estate sales, auctions, garage sales, and various shops, some of which may specialize in antiques. Some areas are famous for their antiquing possibilities, like the American Northeast, where some people go on antiquing tours. Many people enjoy the thrill of the chase, as they pore through an assortment of goods to find beautiful or valuable antiques; some people actually make antiquing a profession, seeking out antiques which can be resold.


Antiquing requires a great deal of skill, as it is easy to pick up an inauthentic, worthless, or badly damaged antique if you don't know what you are doing. Most people gain their skills through years of practice, and by working with people who are experienced at identification. If you are a beginner, you may want to visit a library or bookstore and take a look at books which are devoted to the identification and valuing of antiques, to ensure that you will be more confident in the field. You may also want to consider focusing on a specific type or period of antiques, like Victorian glassware or Shaker furniture.

Shopping for antiques can be a great a deal of fun, especially when you make a real find. As a general rule, look for things which show obvious signs of decades of use and wear, such as discoloration, stains, rounded corners, and so forth. An antique which looks perfect is probably too good to be true; avoid “antiques” which have obvious modern construction materials like particleboard, screws, and so forth.

In the second sense, antiquing is often done to make furnishings more visually interesting. Some furniture companies offer antiqued pieces to customers who like the look or want new furniture which will blend in with older furniture, and it is possible to antique things yourself, as well. Numerous books and do it yourself websites have extensive antiquing guides to help people who want to learn about the various techniques which can be used to artificially age furniture for an antique look.


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