Antiques: Finding the Authentic

Studio 5 set out to answer some common questions, like: How do I blend antiques into my decorating? What do I look for when I buy? Are antiques ever affordable? And the biggie: Do I already own something of value? We checked with the experts at Euro Treasures to find some answers.

What is the appeal of antiques overall?

1. A reflection of our roots. The craftsmanship is far superior to modern furniture that is made today. Antiques emanate warmth and beauty in a home. As pieces age, they develop patina and depth that cannot be duplicated.

2. A good investment. Unlike modern furniture, antiques will increase in value with time. They are investment pieces that are also useful! There is great satisfaction in passing down these living treasures to younger generations.

3. One of a kind. When you decorate with antiques people that come into your home will always ask about where you got them, and are fascinated with the history. People continue to purchase antiques because they always end up being such a joy to have in the home.

Antiques Roadshow is so popular. But you say it hasn’t been great for the antiques business. Why?

It gives people a warped perception that everything is worth tens of thousands of dollars, and creates a market where people are intimidated by the cost of antiques. Antiques are very affordable, and are actually less expensive than quality new items.

What should we look for in quality and style when buying antiques?

1. Absolutely love it. Pick up something that is pleasing to your eye, and has form and function in your home. Buy something you can use! And be careful about compromising over price. Even if you have to pay a little more, if you love it, the item will grow in your esteem and in real value.

2. From glassware to tools, choose collectibles that interest you. It could be cameras, fly rods, or marbles, but make sure it holds your attention and keeps you hunting for more. Look for rarity and quality in these pieces. Find a way to display them so you can enjoy them.

3. With paintings, look for an artist with international appeal and whose work has historical appreciation — meaning it has sold well over the years. You can buy work from well-listed artist starting in the $600-800 dollar range. Make sure it’s something you enjoy looking at.

4. Look for furniture made before 1860. This is before the industrial age when trees were felled, split and planed by hand. This is where you find the excellent workmanship and quality that is characteristic of great antique furniture. Pieces made after 1900 are less valuable, but still good antiques. The legal definition of an antique is 100 years or older.

How do I find out the value of something I already have?

You can do some research yourself. Start by checking out some of our favorite resources:


• Miller’s Price Guide

• Antique Trader Magazine

• Maine Antique Digest

However, an official appraisal is your best bet to find out the true value of your piece with current market conditions. At Euro Treasures, appraisal fees start at $85.

What are common mistakes people make in caring for their antiques?

1. Improper storage. Putting antiques where they could be subject to water damage. (i.e. setting a plant on top of the piece, or leaving it under a leaky roof or on damp basement floor) is the most common mistake with antiques. Preserve your antiques by covering them with a blanket in storage. In your home, keep antiques out of direct sunlight.

2. Dip stripping. This is when the furniture has been bathed in a caustic lye solution to remove paint and varnish. It is very harmful to the wood because it opens the grain and dries it out. We suggest your antiques be refinished by hand by a professional.

3. Over sanding. Too many people ruin antiques by using a belt sander which eats through the old finish takes too much wood with it. Avoid these powerful tools for refinishing projects. Always sand by hand.

4. Painting. It can be cute, but does not help the value of an antique piece of furniture. Painting could provide usefulness in the short term, but to preserve the value in a real antique, painting is not a good idea.

What are hot items to collect now?

1. Paintings. Choose an artist who has a track record of sales. You can get into art collecting for $600-800.

2. Books. In this area, look for early Mormon publications. Preferably first editions.

3. Mission furniture. Straight lines and very little carving are hallmarks of mission-style furniture.

4. 18th century pieces. These are increasingly harder to find. If you get one, keep it!

5. Architectural elements. Stained glass windows, wall paneling, mantels, even door hardware is all the rage. We sell a ton to people looking to add fun statement items into home décor and architecture.

Euro Treasures

Fine European Antiques

470 W. 600 South

Salt Lake City, UT 84101

(801) 364-6390

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