Shopping for vintage, heirlooms and antiques is a special skill. Yet, first and foremost, you need to like what you buy. Never mind value, appreciation and all the other financial aspects of these items. If you don’t think what you’re considering is visually appealing, don’t buy. It will forever feel like an eyesore, no matter what it’s worth!

When you do begin searching for these items, there are several rules you can follow to make sure you’re getting the best value. If a piece looks new, it most likely is. There are few old pieces that are perfect, all have nicks, small scratches, and other imperfections. When considering wood further, look for dovetail joints (the corners of drawers where two pieces of wood come together without nailing) which generally indicates the piece was made by a cabinetmaker. Hardware should be attached with post and nut construction. Inspect the piece carefully. Look underneath, open drawers, look for stamps, markings, labels, and signatures to get a better idea about what you’re looking at. When you’re looking at visual works, make sure to identify the difference between paintings, reprints and reproductions. See if there are a web of fine cracks, which appear on the surface of old paintings. Also, look at the back of the work, and inspect the framing. If there are documents that come with the work, even better. When you’re buying textiles, inspect every square inch. Unfold folded textiles and flip them over to see the back. There will likely be small imperfections in even the best pieces, just make sure you know about them before you purchase. Older, more authentic textiles have color and pattern on both sides. Look for uniqueness. Multiples that are perfectly matched, are generally not vintage.

When you’re ready to shop, in addition to our shops in Historic Boyertown, visit Homestead Antiques in Boyertown, Swamp Door Antiques and Curiosities in Gilbertsville and just down the road a bit, Merritt’s Antiques and Under the Sun in Douglassville.