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Legacy Antiques

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  • How to Manage Your Collection

    I am a member of several online groups relating to glass, pottery, and porcelain. I enjoy looking at other people’s collections, admiring rarities, and learning about more unusual pieces. Recently, a member posted a question asking others how they document their collections; after all, some of these people have thousands of pieces. I was astonished by how few people did keep a record of their acquisitions; of those that did, many kept old-fashioned hand-written ledgers. A considerable number of those who responded seemed unsure about how to set up a system on their computer that would assist them in maintaining their collectibles.

    I have been managing over half a dozen databases and spreadsheets for Legacy Antiques for over 12 years now. Although it would not traditionally be considered a ‘collection’, I feel that I may be able to offer some guidance relating to documenting your valuables and the benefits surrounding it.

    Why do I need to document my collection?

    You don’t, but you should. There are a few reasons it is beneficial to catalogue your possessions. I have detailed these below.

    1. Efficiency.If your collection is so vast that much of it is packed away, digitally archiving it is a great to ensure that you can ‘see’ everything you have, even if you can’t lay your hands on a piece straight away. This saves time and money as you can avoid spending extra on pieces you already own but have forgotten about.
    2. Insurance. Many insurance companies will require in-depth information when considering a claim for any items, including receipts, photographs, value, proof of ownership, etc. By keeping a digital log of your pieces, you are always prepared for those ‘worst case scenarios’.
    3. Proof of ownership. This is, in my opinion, the most important reason for cataloguing your property. Gadgets, such as TVs and smart phones, come with unique serial numbers, which can be registered on sites such as Immobilise to ensure a swift return if the item is recovered by the police after a theft. It is far more complicated if you are dealing with antiques and collectibles, but a database with detailed accounts of each piece would be hard to dispute if ownership was contested.
    4. Selling. Keeping detailed records of your collection will prove invaluable should you decide to sell some or all of it. Any provenance or details relating to a piece can be readily accessed, and will not only make selling easier, but may add value to your items.

    What can I catalogue?

    You can catalogue anything! Whether you collect 19th century ceramics, Whitefriars glass, vinyl, or retro computer games, you can (and should) catalogue it all. Even if it is not a collection, it is advisable to catalogue your home contents, particularly if you have expensive items that are at a considerable risk of theft.

    What information should I include?

    More detail from the beginning will mean easier searching and therefore less work overall. I have compiled a list of potential headings to include, and how to use them with the help of a demo product.

    1. Reference number. A reference number is especially important when dealing with lots of comparable items. This way you can ensure that each piece is easily distinguishable, and there will be no ‘mix ups’. You will also need a numbering system on your database as they require a ‘product key’; a unique number for each data entry. It is also much easier to search for a reference number on a database, than a string of words.
    2. Manufacturer / Artist. If you can accurately attribute your items, then this is an important detail. For example, classic 19th century transferware patterns have the same style name, i.e. ‘Willow’, but were produced by numerous factories.
    3. Pattern name or style. This is another high-ranking attribute, as many people collect a certain style, like Art Deco, or a pattern, like ‘Willow’.
    4. Date or Age. This information cannot always be ascertained, and sometimes you may have to make an educated guess. For example, a piece of stemware may have been in production for fifty years and the mark may narrow it down, two decades, so you may have to say, for example, 1970s to 1980s. Alternatively, some items may have an exact date of manufacture; perhaps using the diamond registration mark or be signed. This information, if accurate, is very useful in distinguishing between original and reproduction pieces.
    5. Colour. Many products come in a variety of colourways. Some collectors like to acquire all known colourways of a certain shape or style; for example, Wedgwood ‘Jasperware’ is frequently seen as the classic blue and white, but it is possible to find green and white, burgundy and white, pink and white, and navy and white.
    6. Type of product. If you collect a certain pattern or style, it may be useful to note down what type of product it is. If you only collect cups, then this may not be necessary, but if you collect items decorated with, for example, the ‘Greek Key’ pattern, you may want to document whether it is a glass, a ceramic bowl, or even a chair!
    7. It is helpful to distinguish what type of material has been used to make a piece. Items made from lead crystal are typically more valuable than their non-lead counterparts.
    8. Date of acquisition. This is quite useful in determining how long you’ve owned a certain piece, should that ever be called into question. It is also interesting to detail how long you’ve been collecting, and how your buying may have changed over time.
    9. Cost. It is undoubtedly sensible to keep digitised copies of your receipts, that you can then link to each item in your database. This backs up various other details on the database (such as date of acquisition), but more importantly offers hard proof of ownership. Obviously, in some cases, you may not have a receipt for something, if you’ve bought it at a car boot sale or from a private individual, for example. It is then worth making a note of where you bought it, the date, and how much you may have paid.
    10. Identifying features / damage. A comprehensive account of damage or imperfections is invaluable. These flaws are unique to a piece, and will assist in distinguishing one piece from another. You can make notes of these in the table, but it is best to accompany these with close-up photographs.
    11. Weight. This detail is commonly assessed when determining the authenticity or age of a product. Quite often, lighter pieces can represent later production times, or, in some cases, fakes or replicas. A good example of this would be Italian Bitossi ceramic animals, predominantly the horses. Older horses are heavier, with the larger size weighing in at a couple of kilos. Later pieces tend to be lighter due to a change of production method. As companies try to cut costs over time, due to the inflated prices of materials, you will find that pieces will become lighter and may even feel ‘cheaper’.

    Another point to make with weight is that handmade items often differ slightly across a batch. This offers a unique detail that is hard to dispute. It is worth investing in good digital scales if you feel this is an important attribute to record for your collection.

    1. Photographs. Photographs can tell you so much more than words can describe. It is vital to take detailed images of your items, with close-up shots of any distinguishing features, be they flaws, back stamps, engraved marks, or even damage. They all contribute to the overall ‘view’ of the piece, and will corroborate other data you’ve input.
    2. Dimensions. Dimensions can vary between pieces from the same range; this is especially true of handmade objects. For example, I once bought a pair of Dartington Crystal hock wine glasses in their original box, only to discover that there was a 5mm difference in height between the two. This discrepancy is due to inadequate quality control, but shows the potential differences you can encounter with handmade pieces. Measurements are also a great indicator of authenticity; commonly faked pieces, such as Whitefriars Glass and SylvaC will often be smaller all over due to replica moulds. It may be worth adding a ‘scale’ into your photographs; I prefer the traditional black and white kind, but a universally known object like a can of Coke can help give a sense of size if you can’t see it in the flesh.
    3. Description / Other Notes. Although you may have detailed many points in other parts of your database, it is worth having a ‘description’ or ‘notes’ section. It may be helpful to add details of damage, positioning of marks or signatures (if they’re hard to find) and any other valuable information.
    4. Market value. This is a more complicated point and will certainly fluctuate over time. If you have had items professionally appraised and valued, then this can be very useful to add in (a digitised copy of original documentation is best) to assist with selling or claiming on insurance.
    5. Location / Box Number. If you’re dealing with an ample collection, where many pieces are not on display, adding the location information is vital. After all, it’s no good setting up an archive if you can’t find it! At Legacy Antiques, every item is assigned and labelled with a stock reference number, and is packed in to a numbered stock box. This makes it incredibly easy to find pieces.

    It’s never too late to start cataloguing your collection. If you’re just starting out, it is a terrific way of learning about your pieces and studying them in greater detail. It will also get you into good habits, and, in time, will become a normal part of the collecting experience.

    To more seasoned collectors, it is an effective way of reviewing what you have, and perhaps why you have it. Our knowledge and tastes change over time, and what we bought 10 years ago may have long since been surpassed in quality by more educated purchases. It is also an excellent opportunity to revisit and reorganise your acquisitions.

    In recent years, great advances have been made in online digital or ‘cloud’ storage; Google Drive and Dropbox are just a couple of examples. With tablets and smartphones, you can now take your database out and about with you and access it remotely. This can prove very useful if you’re out buying more and want to avoid duplicates!

    We have produced a downloadable Google Spreadsheet, which is ready to be used to start cataloguing your collection. You can view it HERE. It includes a ‘demo’ product to illustrate how each category can be used. Once downloaded, you will be able to edit it as you see fit.

  • Order processing and shipping suspended from 16/10/17 to 01/11/17

    We will be undergoing some warehouse maintenance from Monday 16th October until Wednesday 1st November 2017.

    This work will affect order processing and shipping. No orders will be processed for shipping during these dates, with normal business resuming on Thursday 2nd November. All orders placed between 16/10/17 and 01/11/17 will be processed on 02/11/17 and shipped by 4.30pm GMT on 03/11/17.

    During this period, we will be offering our customers a chance to buy all items on the website and eBay store at a discounted rate. All purchases made between 16/10/17 and 01/11/17 are made in agreement with the above terms relating to delayed processing and shipping. If you do not agree to these terms then please do not make a purchase.

    Our standard terms and conditions are in effect once your parcel has been shipped.

  • CHRISTMAS - there, I said it.

    As much as we'd like to deny it, in less than 12 weeks Christmas will be upon us. It may not seem worth thinking about right now, but if you're buying items from abroad then last posting dates are crucial for your shopping diary.

    We would always recommend trying to get your orders in with plenty of time; this allows for delays, which are inevitable at this busy time of year. It also allows for any hiccups you may experience when buying second-hand goods. For example, if something arrives and you're not completely happy with it, you'll want to make sure you have enough time to return it and get a replacement.

    However, life can get in the way; many work places are far busier on the run up to Christmas, leaving people with less time to organise themselves. Knowing your last posting dates is vital for surviving the festive frenzy on the run up to Christmas Day.

    Legacy Antiques and Collectibles Ltd uses only Royal Mail and Parcelforce services, with either a signature requirement or tracking capability. These services prove far more reliable than standard untracked mail, and allow the customer to follow their parcel in transit.

    We have summarised the relevant information available from the Royal Mail and Parcelforce websites below.

     

    UK LAST POSTING DATES

    Latest recommended posting dates Service
    Friday 22nd December Special Delivery Guaranteed Saturday Delivery
    Thursday 21st December Special Delivery Guaranteed 1pm
    Thursday 21st December 1st Class Signed For
    Wednesday 20th December Parcelforce 48

     

    INTERNATIONAL LAST POSTING DATES

    Latest recommended posting dates Countries
    Saturday 16th December Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg
    Friday 15th December Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland
    Thursday 14th December Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA
    Wednesday 13th December Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland
    Saturday 9th December Greece, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand
    Thursday 7th December Caribbean, Central and South America
    Wednesday 6th December Cyprus, Malta, Asia, Far East, Eastern Europe (except Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia)
    Saturday 2nd December Africa, Middle East

    PLEASE NOTE: These tables are offered as a guideline but we strongly recommend that all orders be placed by the day before the last posting date. We are restricted by Royal Mail and Parcelforce collection times, and while we will endeavour to ship out before the parcels are collected from the depot, any late orders will be shipped the next day. All orders placed before 1pm will be dispatched the same day.

    If you have any special requirements, or are unsure of when to order by, then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We are happy to hold orders so that they are dispatched to arrive on a certain day, and deliver gifts directly to the recipient (see our great selection of gift cards on offer).

    We will continue to ship all orders, regardless of whether the last posting date has been missed; our last shipping date before Christmas will be Friday 22nd December.

    If you would like to find out what service your parcel would be sent by in advance, then please email us and quote the stock reference number of the product(s) you are interested in. Should you require an expedited service or an upgrade, these are at an additional cost. This will have to be arranged before purchase.

  • The Etiquette Guide to Selling Antiques Online

    As vintage and upcycling trends continue to soar, and with the ease of marketplaces like eBay and Etsy, countless people are turning their hands to dabble in the world of antiques and collectibles. This means, however, that there is a world of competition out there and that your efforts must stand out from the crowd. In this guide, I hope to offer advice to assist you in making the most out of your goods and getting the best from the world of online selling.

    1.      Play to your strengths.

    What do you like? You may have an eye for Georgian glass, or a preference towards 1970s retro. Whatever it is, there is a market for everything. However, it is important to play to your strengths; if you already have a knowledge or a passion for an era or type of object, then you’ll find selling it much simpler.

    2.      Where should you market your goods?

    This is entirely dependent on what kind of seller you are. If you are a private individual with just a few bits and pieces, the Facebook marketplace may be a good start. Alternatively, if you just want a quick solution, you may be better of approaching a professional dealer or a local auction house to see if they’ll be able to buy from or sell for you.

    If you are just setting venturing out into the online world of antiques, you may be best trying an online marketplace such as eBay or Etsy. These are great for the beginner and provide useful information and guidance on how to list your products. They are a great platform from which to market your pieces, but you face fierce competition. So, how can you ‘stand out from the crowd’?

    3.      Getting noticed.

    ‘You get back what you put in’. This is my number one piece of advice when anyone asks me about selling online. The more information you give, the more effort you put in, the more likely it is that you’ll sell your items. Not only that, but you’ll be able to yield a better price.

    4.      Research.

    Good research yields useful information, which leads to a helpful, educated description. This shows the buyer that you’re not just another amateur, and that you’ve taken your time to prove why your product is worth buying over someone else’s.

    How to list your items

    You may have to tweak the details here and there to suit your selling platform, but this enumeration should cover most details you’ll encounter when listing your items online.

    ·        The Title

    This is so easy to get wrong and I strongly believe that there is such a thing as overkill. I know from experience that buyers HATE it when sellers use loads of irrelevant terms in their title; I recently saw this described as a ‘word salad’. If you want people to take you seriously as a seller, be concise and accurate. I use my own formula when writing a title, taking the relevant bits of information that will guide the potential buyer to my listing. I have detailed the formula below; if you can use even some of these, your title will be accurate and helpful.

    1.      Manufacturer / Origin / Designer

    2.      Pattern name

    3.      Object type

    4.      Material

    5.      Age / Era

    6.      Size

    7.      Colour

    8.      Quantity

    9.      Shape

    10.   Pattern number or product code

    If you examine these four titles, you will see examples of these points put in to action.

    ‘Pair of Stuart Crystal ‘London’ Design Liqueur or Cordial Glasses’

    |_____| |_________| |_________________| |_____________________|

    8                1                     2                                3

    Wedgwood Glass Single ‘Sheringham’ Design Candleholder in Flint RSW13

    |_____________| |_____| |_______________| |__________| |_____| |_____|

        1                 6                     2                          3                7          10

    Large Mid-Victorian Trumpet Shaped White and Flint Glass Vase c.1860

    |____| |__________| |____________| |___________| |____| |___| |_____|

    6              5                     9                        7              4         3        5

    It is worth noting that subjective language is best avoided in titles. In addition, the word ‘rare’ is unpopular amongst buyers and collectors; it is overused and abused and should be avoided at all costs.

    ·        Description

    So, your title has enticed your buyer to view your product. Now, the description should sell it. I would recommend that you start with an opening statement, which is an elaboration of your title. This way, the buyer knows from the start if they’re in the right place.

    Points you should include in your description are:

    o   Who made it? Manufacturer, designer, or country of origin.

    o   What is it made from? Is it crystal or plain glass? Stoneware, earthenware, or porcelain? Are there multiple materials in use?

    o   How old is it? Can you be exact? If not, can you give an educated estimate as to the approximate age or era? If you aren’t entirely sure of the age, then you can use eras or styles such as Art Deco or Retro. Remember, styles have been reiterated through the years so be sure to emphasise whether your product is original or reproduction. Another point is ensuring you use the words ‘antique’, ‘vintage’, and ‘retro’ properly. Antique refers to items 100 years old or more. Vintage generally covers from the 1920s up to the 1950s, and retro now seems to cover not only the 1960s and 1970s, but the 1980s and 1990s too.

    o   Pattern name or style? Identified stemware and tableware patterns make searching easier, e.g. Stuart Crystal ‘Glengarry’. For antique and unnamed pieces, it is worth going into detail about the styles of cutting or design applied.

    o   Additional details? If you have any extra information about a piece, such as a catalogue detail or pattern number, include it! If you have a good credible source for your information, then it is always worth referencing them. This really makes you look like you have done your homework. Crediting your sources is important; all too often people ‘poach’ information from others who have worked hard to compile it.

    o   Dimensions. Some people work in metric and some in imperial. Many antique and vintage items have been made to imperial specifications. However, I feel that imperial measurements do not achieve the degree of accuracy we have come to expect in more recent years. For this reason, I choose to use metric measurements. This is especially important if selling replacement pieces, as customers are going to want the closest match to their own pieces as possible. Give as many measurements as you feel necessary.

    o   Condition report. It is crucial that you scrutinise your objects and mention any noticeable flaws, wear and tear, or damage. Remember, you are acting as the eyes for the buyer. It is worth dissecting the piece so that upon arrival with the buyer it exceeds expectations rather than proving a disappointment. Some people are more forgiving about wear and damage than others, but it is your responsibility to provide them with enough details to make an informed decision.

    ·        Photographs

    Photographs are incredibly important. The buyer is unable to view the object in person so the images must accompany the description to help sell the item. With the rapid progression of technology in recent years, you do not even need to invest in an expensive SLR camera. If you have a modern mobile phone, chances are you have access to a decent digital camera. Get to grips with the settings; does it have a macro mode? What are the white balance settings like?

    My top tips for taking a photo are:

    o   Use a plain backdrop. You’re not selling your carpet or wallpaper, you’re selling the object. Make sure that your backdrop is plain or neutral so that it does not detract from the piece you’re photographing.

    o   Lighting. You don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive studio set up; natural light is always the best. However, it is not the most consistent of mediums. It may be worth investing in some spotlights and daylight bulbs just to increase the time you can photograph pieces in the day.

    o   Focus. Always make sure your images are in focus! This is such a common error in online images and will really detract from your listing if your images are unclear.

    o   Details. Take lots of relevant pictures. If you have mentioned details, backstamps, signatures, even damage, get a picture of it. These will help illustrate your description and assist your buyer in deciding about whether to purchase it.

    ·        Pricing

    Pricing your items can be difficult. When browsing online, someone may be selling an object for £20 but someone else will have the same thing for £40. So, where do you pitch yours? The phrase ‘it’s only worth what someone will pay for it’ really comes in to play here. Although it may sound vague, by looking through online auction listings that have recently ended will give you a good average of the price the item is achieving.

    ·        Shipping

    You will have to decide where you wish to sell and ship to. Naturally it is cheaper to ship to customers in your own country, but by offering shipping options worldwide you are widening your potential customer base. Make sure that whatever you decide, your choice of courier is suitable for your goods and that they cover national and/or international shipping and insurance.

    It is also worth mentioning that many couriers offer extremely cheap rates, but that they often do not cover antiques, valuables, and breakables. Check your courier’s terms and conditions before you make any decisions.

    ·        Payment options.

    Offering a wide variety of payment options will ensure that buyers can choose a method that suits them. It is always worth offering a secure online payment method, such as PayPal, so that both you and the customer are protected. No matter what method you use, you should always offer some sort of digital or printed receipt for the transaction.

    ·        Terms and conditions

    If you are selling through a marketplace like eBay, you may be bound by their rules relating to The Distance Selling Regulations (now the Consumer Contracts). These were updated on 13th June 2014 and apply to those trading in goods or services online or by other digital media without face-to-face contact. You must bear these regulations in mind when constructing your terms and conditions. The www.gov.uk website provides a wealth of information on this subject.

    Your terms and conditions should also include important details like your dispatch time and your returns and refunds policy.

    So, now you have listed your item. It is well researched, competitively priced, with nice clear photos and a good shipping rate and service. What next?

    Questions

    You may be contacted by potential buyers asking questions about the piece. Always try to answer in a prompt and professional manner. If you do not know the answer, look it up. If you still can’t find the answer, be straight with the buyer. Don’t ‘guess’ or make anything up; this inevitably ends in a headache and leads to more ‘alternative facts’ on the internet.

    If you have a few buyers that ask the same question, it may be worth editing your description to include these details.

    You’ve sold your item!

    Congratulations! You’ve got over the first stage. Now to focus on getting it out to the customer.

    Buyers always love receiving items in a timely manner. I have heard tales of vendors who have taken weeks to dispatch something- - this is unacceptable! If you are delayed (for whatever reason) the key is to relay this to the buyer immediately. They can then decide whether they wish to proceed with the transaction, and they are well within their rights to do so.

    Packing does not need to be an expensive venture. It is more about resourcefulness. Large companies often order items in bulk and then pay to have the ‘waste’ packing removed. Many places are more than happy to give you their ‘waste’ as it saves them money. This in turn will save you money, leaving you extra money to invest in materials you do need, such as packing tape and wrapping paper.

    You’ve now packed your item and are sending it out. As previously mentioned, you should check which courier company best meets your needs. Crucially, make sure your goods are insured appropriately. If you don’t insure them properly then you may end up out of pocket if anything should happen.

    Aftercare

    I firmly believe that your job as a seller isn’t over until the buyer is happy. Now, as I have said before, you can’t please everyone, but you can do your best. If any problems should arise after your item is delivered, how you deal with it reflects on you as a seller. Hopefully you will have laid out thorough, details instructions in your terms and conditions in the event of a return or refund. You will have to stipulate whether you or the buyer will pay the return shipping in the event of a return due to the buyer changing their mind. If the error is on your part, you (the seller) are liable for this cost. In any case, you will be required (as per the Consumer Contracts Regulations) to refund the initial cost of the item INCLUDING shipping. If an item is damaged in transit it is the responsibility of the seller to refund the buyer in full and resolve the issue or make an insurance claim themselves. It is not for the buyer to have to do this.

    Offering a no quibble money back guarantee is the most effective solution. This instils confidence in the buyer and they will likely choose you over another.

    In order to summarise my feelings about aftercare, I would refer to The Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.

  • Caring for your lead crystal

    ‘Glasses were made to be used’. This is something I stand by and frequently reiterate to friends and customers. Many people are surprised at the notion of someone using an 18th century wine glass; although these objects can be admired for their historical and aesthetic value, they were originally made with one purpose in mind: imbibing.

    In this article, I aim to offer advice on caring for your crystal, be it wine glasses, decanters, bowls, or vases. With just a few basic cleaning tools and some elbow grease, you’ll have sparkling crystal in no time!

    How to clean your crystal.

    A selection of decanter cleaning brushes I am always on the look out for different cleaning utensils. Obviously, I'm a brush hoarder. You can never have too many.

    I always try to use a plastic washing up bowl inside the sink rather than putting the pieces directly in the sink. This way the glass is protected from the hard surface.

    Basic equipment you’ll need:

    ·        Cotton dishcloth

    ·        Rubber gloves (optional)

    ·        Soft bristled nylon toothbrush

    ·        Washing up liquid

    ·        White vinegar (optional)

    ·        Microfibre cloth

    1.      Get prepared. Fill your washing up bowl approximately ¾ full of warm (hand hot) water and a small squirt of washing up liquid. If you suffer from hard water in your area then a cup of white vinegar added to the water at this stage helps to neutralise or soften it, resulting in a less streaky finish. It is important to ensure that your stemware is at room temperature before washing it. Glass is very susceptible to extremes of temperature and is likely to crack or break if immersed in hot (or cold) water. If you’ve had ice or chilled drinks in your glasses, empty them and let them warm up before you proceed with washing them.

    2.      Don’t overcrowd the sink. Similarly, it is best not to mix large, heavy items with small, delicate ones. Ideally, you should wash one piece at a time. However, place as many pieces as you feel comfortable with in the bowl and allow them to soak for a few minutes. Then, taking your clean cotton dishcloth, and holding your glass by the bowl, clean the inside and outside of the glass. NEVER hold a glass by the stem when washing it; it is not designed to accommodate the stress created by a twisting cleaning motion and will often result in the piece breaking.

    If you have a highly-cut piece that has dust or dirt in the exterior detail then I recommend using a soft bristled toothbrush and gently scrubbing in a circular motion over the cutting.

    Once you are happy that the piece is clean, rinse it with clean, warm water. If you have the luxury of space or a double sink, then a second washing up bowl is best. If not, rinsing each piece under the tap is just as effective. This part of the process will not only mean that your stemware will be streak-free when dried, but will also remove any traces of cleaning fluids from the glass, which might otherwise taint your next drink.

    3.      Drying your stemware. It is always best to allow your glass to drip dry on a draining board. I use a plastic-coated metal stand, which I can invert glasses on without the concern that the rims will get damaged. This also raises them off a flat surface and allows air to circulate around them, providing an effective drying environment. I normally wait until something is about 60-70% dry (no longer dripping) and then manually finish it with a microfibre cloth. To get the best finish, I would advise that you get a lint-free microfibre cloth; these dry pieces quickly, with minimal drag or stress on the piece, and leave them streak and mark free.

    Decanters can be cleaned in much the same way as glasses. If a decanter has old wine or liquor stains in the base that prove stubborn to remove even after soaking, I would recommend that you try pouring roughly an inch of dry rice (or a layer of crushed eggshells) into the base with enough white vinegar to help it move when swilled. These act as an agitator and will gently clean the base without causing any damage to the glass. If you have lots of decanters that you need to clean regularly then I would strongly recommend investing in a specialist decanter brush. These come in various shapes and sizes to aid in cleaning anything from a wide ships decanter to a slender liqueur decanter.

     

    Vinology decanter stands in use These decanter drying stands by Vinology are just fabulous! I've been using them for a number of years now and they've never let me down. They're good for decanters, vases, jugs - all-sorts!

    Drying decanters can prove to be quite the hardship. The slender neck is often too small to fit a cloth down and if you do succeed then it can be hard to remove! Like wine glasses, decanters are best rinsed and then drained over a rack where they can aerate. Once they have dripped dry, you can either wipe them externally with a microfibre cloth and then leave them up the right way to air, or (if you are in a hurry) you can use a hairdryer on a cool setting to speed this process up.

    One concern with inverting decanters is that they become too top-heavy and could possibly fall over. I invested in some decanter drying stands and, although they are pricey, they are incredibly effective. The ends are rubber-tipped so that they don’t scratch the glass. Any water vapour that condenses at the top of the decanter will then run down the rubber and the central shaft, pooling at the bottom and aiding the drying process.

    Unless your stemware is contemporary non-lead crystal and explicitly says you can, you should not put your crystal in a dishwasher. Dishwashing is too harsh on the glass and both the heat and detergents will leave it clouded. In many cases, this causes irreparable damage. Handwashing, although laborious, is still the best method.

    Vases can be treated in much the same way as decanters. If your vase is in regular use, it is important to change the water and wash the vase thoroughly every day to avoid staining. If you end up with a film or mark at the waterline, this may be a hard water deposit (limescale) and may come off with white vinegar sprayed either directly onto the stain or added to the washing up water when cleaning.

  • The Etiquette Guide to Buying Antiques Online

    Every year, more and more people turn to the internet for their shopping needs. There is a whole world out there to browse and it can be hard to know where to look and who to trust. Both the buyer and the seller have responsibilities when entering in to a sales contract and I hope to offer guidance so that you (the buyer) can make smart choices and get the best deal from your online purchases.

    1. Know what you’re after.

    This sounds very straightforward but there is such variation in handmade goods that it is sometimes hard to find exactly what you’re after. This is especially true when looking for replacement pieces, such as wine glasses. If it says it’s a ‘wine’ glass, check the dimensions against your own to ensure a good match. You wouldn’t want to buy another red wine glass when you need a white wine!

    1. Where do I look?

    Search engines such as Google or Bing will give you the top answers according to their search engine algorithm. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the top result is the best result. It is worth looking through the first couple of pages of your search to ensure that you see the variety of items on offer from various vendors. An online marketplace, such as eBay, has a huge range of items available but also means that you’ll have a lot of inexperienced or amateur sellers to sift through.

    1. Who can I trust?

    It is always recommended that you source your items from a reputable vendor. You can certainly buy antiques online through private sellers on eBay for, in some cases, half what you might pay a professional seller, but you are taking a big risk. Is their information accurate? Have they provided good, clear photos? Have they thoroughly checked the item over and written a clear and concise condition report? I should mention at this point that there are plenty of very capable amateurs out there, who are conscientious and thorough in their research. However, many people just want a quick sale and whether the item is accurately attributed and described is not of great concern to them. Misattribution can be a bonus if you stumble across something that is far more expensive than it has been valued at. Unfortunately, in many cases, new collectors are duped out of their money if they do not do their research.

    If you aren’t 100% sure of the object and require further information, then contact the seller; we don’t bite! The key point here is: never assume anything. If you’re unsure, just ask before you commit to purchasing.

    1. How can I get the best deal?

    Cheaper is not always better. In fact, in many cases you get what you pay for. There are many ‘bargains’ to be had via online auctions, but there is often a trade-off in the quality of the product and the service provided. When dealing with professional antique traders, although you may pay more than in an online auction, you are not only getting exactly what you want, but you’re getting years of experience and knowledge. You’re paying for a service, not just a product.

    There is a certain degree of variation in online prices, and although many pieces are listed at a fixed price, there may be room for negotiation. There is a degree of tactfulness required in negotiating. My number one rule must be ‘don’t insult the seller’. If you feel that the item is highly overpriced then it may be worth looking elsewhere. If you’re thinking of offering more than 20-30% less than the asking price, don’t be surprised if you’re refused or even ignored!

    If it is maybe slightly more than you’re prepared to pay then it is worth asking if there is any flexibility. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It may seem obvious to state that the way you approach the situation will yield different outcomes, but I can assure you that with some of the emails I’ve received in the last 12 years that some people need to be told. I would always recommend messaging the seller and asking them if they would consider an offer. If they say yes, then give them your offer and lay out your terms. Is your offer including or excluding the shipping cost? Is your offer for one lot or multiple lots? Make this clear when contacting the vendor so that you both know your position.

    I have dealt with my fair share of rude buyers in the past and trying to haggle by insulting someone will get you nowhere. A few years ago, a buyer contacted me and told me that the item that he was interested in was overpriced because he had recently only paid £12.50 for one similar. Bear in mind, the piece was only priced at £17.50, with shipping of £5.90 via a secure signed-for method. He said he was only prepared to give me £12.50 and that would include the shipping. He also suggested that I should be grateful for his business. As you can imagine, as I read his message I found myself feeling less agreeable with every sentence. I do not ignore messages (even of this nature), so I replied saying that he had indeed got a bargain at £12.50 but that my price was a fair market average. I told him what I could do it for but that this revised price was the bottom line. Unsurprisingly, he did not wish to pay more than his initial offer and we ceased negotiations. Now if he had come to me and asked what my best price would be including the shipping, I might have been more flexible (not £12.50 all in flexible though!) Manners cost nothing and are a key point in getting the best out of your online bartering.

    1. The small print

    Hopefully now you’ve found what you want, you’ve negotiated a good price and have agreed to buy it. You have now entered in to a contract with the seller. This is an easy thing to forget when buying is at the click of a button these days, but every sale comes with terms and conditions. It is always advisable to read through a seller’s terms and conditions before you enter in to a contract with them. After all, by clicking ‘buy’, you have automatically agreed to whatever they have stipulated in the description and terms and conditions. It is your responsibility as the buyer to ensure that you’re happy with these. A good seller will have a comprehensive set of terms; although these can be lengthy, they are in place to ensure that both the buyer and the seller are protected. Unfortunately, many vendors do not have legally ‘sound’ terms and conditions, and especially where antique and second-hand goods are concerned, many believe they can write their own rules.

    1. Paying for your goods.

    You’ve jumped through all the hoops and now you must pay. Since I started trading in 2005 there have been massive advances in the way we send and receive payments. Security improves all the time, so it has never been easier to buy online. The clear majority of buyers are happy to pay with a card over the phone or through an online payment system such as PayPal. It is always worth checking beforehand that the payment methods the seller offers suit your needs. If you are unsure, it is advisable to contact them before you enter in to a sale contract. At Legacy Antiques, if your money is real, we’ll accept it in whatever form works best for you (within reason!) The most secure way for a seller to pay online is using (specifically) a credit card. Credit cards normally cover you in case of any disputes or problems relating to a sale, so if you have a problem, your card company is likely to back you up. The same can be said for using any type of card via PayPal. PayPal seems to work very much in favour of the buyer, offering great security and excellent mediation services if problems should arise. Other payment methods that work well but are less common are BACS and personal cheques. Finally, many people will happily accept cash on collection of the goods. This is a great method for sellers because it is fee-free but the buyer should always insist on a receipt as a proof of purchase and payment.

    1. Playing the waiting game.

    ‘Your order is being processed’. We all love receiving this message; it’s second only to ‘your order has been dispatched’. As previously mentioned, you have agreed to the terms of sale as per the vendor’s terms and conditions, which should include details of shipping times and services. If a seller stipulates that they ship within three working days, make sure this works for you. If you require an item by a certain date, make sure that you let the seller know. We may suggest an expedited service, which will often come at an additional cost. You should also let us know of any special instructions, for example, if it’s going to a different address or if we should leave the receipt out if it’s a gift.

    If you order something close to the date it is required, make sure you have assessed the ‘worst case scenario’. If you order something just days before you need it, what if it doesn’t arrive on time due to delays in the post? What if it arrives and isn’t quite what you wanted? These are all things to consider when buying from an individual or small business; we’re not all like Amazon with same or next day delivery!

    While your order is ‘being processed’, the seller will be carefully packing your item or items to ensure that they survive what can be a turbulent journey in the postal system. At Legacy Antiques, we specialise in glass, and over the last 12 years we have fine-tuned our tailor-made packing to endure trips all over the world with contents ranging from £5 to many thousands of pounds. All items are treated with the same care and respect, no matter what their value. But, how do you know this? Well, the greatest indicator is via a seller’s reviews or feedback score. It is crucial that sellers display feedback so that potential customers can see what level of service they can expect to receive. It is worth bearing in mind that feedback can be somewhat skewed; often people will leave feedback if they’ve had a very negative experience or a very positive one. Those in-between don’t always make time to leave reviews, which is why you’ll often see the two extremes but not always much in the middle.

    1. Your item has arrived!

    Hurrah! The wait is over and your item(s) have arrived. You now have a window of time in which to check your item and let the seller know if everything is alright. Visually examine your parcel; does it look ok? Is it making any alarming noises when you move it? If you’ve bought anything breakable then open it with caution. Assuming everything is okay, go ahead and unwrap it. Give it a good examination. Does it match the description? If you’re not sure, run through the details again before contacting the seller. If you’ve got any questions or concerns, get in touch straight away. Most issues can be resolved quickly and amicably. If you are not 100% happy then see if the seller can help you before you leave feedback. I strongly believe it is unreasonable to leave negative feedback without giving the seller a chance to rectify the situation.

    If your item has arrived damaged, then you must handle the ‘remains’ carefully to ensure you don’t hurt yourself. In addition, you must retain the object and the packing and contact the seller to obtain advice and instructions on how to proceed. Quite often the seller will require photographs to see the damage in order to then be able to proceed with an insurance claim. It is worth noting at this stage that is not the responsibility of the buyer to claim for a damaged piece. Any experienced seller knows that the goods are their responsibility until you (the buyer) is satisfied. If an item is damaged in transit, the seller should negotiate the best resolution with you, for example, returning it for a full refund.

    In 12 years of online trading, we have sent thousands of parcels to destinations all over the world, and, though infrequent, we have experienced loss or damage in transit. It is par for the course when dealing with breakables. It is not necessarily down to the packing, but the fragility of the piece. No matter how well wrapped something is, if it is launched by the delivery company like a rocket then the subsequent shock wave going through the parcel may affect even the slightest flaw in the glass and cause it to fracture. This is just bad luck and bad service on the delivery company’s part.

    However, whatever the reason for the damage, the buyer should judge the seller not on the situation but, more importantly, how they handle it. On the handful of occasions that we have had a lost or damaged item, we make sure that the buyer is not out of pocket. You are already facing the disappointment of not receiving your highly-anticipated goods; why should you lose money too? This situation often reminds me of the phrase ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’. How have I felt when something that I’d bought has arrived damaged? Utterly disappointed. How would I want the situation resolved? Well, ideally, a replacement would be sent out, but in the case of antiques there aren’t always spares of duplicates just lying around. If a seller can’t offer you a suitable replacement, then they should offer you a partial or full refund (depending on whether part or all of your order was damaged or lost). Of course, any returns or refund information should be detailed in the terms and conditions.

  • A legacy in the making

    As I meet more and more entrepreneurs, I am certain that businesses are an extension of the owner or founder. There is so much of yourself that goes in to setting up your own business, you would have to love what you do. Sometimes, the lines between work life and home life are blurred; if it is your passion, why would you want to separate them? My life revolves around my business; I attended my first auction house at 10 days old and if I could spend every moment walking around car boot fairs or charity shops then I would be in heaven. I felt that my first blog post should be an introduction to my life with antiques, and how Legacy Antiques (finally) came to fruition.

    My Indian grandmother is the original source of this interest and passion. During the 1960s and 1970s, many Indian palaces were opened to the public and the contents sold. My grandparents were just some of the many people to acquire furniture and arts from these sales. She amassed many pieces of traditional Indian and Anglo-Indian furniture, as well as pictures, ornaments, and furnishings. Upon passing an archaeological dig, some men offered her the intricately carved base stone of a column belonging to a 4th century Hindu temple. This still resides in her south Indian home some 50 years later.

    My father relocated from India to England in the early 1980s, and my grandmother sent a container with many of these palatial artefacts to adorn his Georgian house in Kent. This certainly fuelled his interest in antiquities and he started to acquire period pieces for his home. A few years later, he met my mother, and this love of antiques was shared. He was, however, something of a purist, only having any regard for furniture prior to the Edwardian period. After this, it was considered ‘modern’. This passion meant that we grew up surrounded by relics and objet d’art. He fell in love with a Queen Anne high chair after seeing the dents and gouges in the legs from dozens of inpatient or excited feet kicking it; this was bought and I probably added a few more dents to it through use.

    My grandmother also introduced my father to charity shops. When she visited England, she discovered these second-hand stores and was instantly drawn to them. My father was mortified by this, believing that people would think they were ‘poor’. She ignored him and ventured in; he walked off so as not to be seen with her. She emerged sometime later with a brand-new elephant-shaped baby walker, complete with tags, for a few pounds. He did not believe that you could buy ‘good’ things in charity shops, but this changed his mind. From then on, he was hooked.

    1930s Schuco Miniature Bear with Jointed Limbs I found this tiny 2 1/2" Schuco bear in a skip when I was a child. He's been watching over my work for over 20 years!

    This new addiction meant that wherever we went, be it the seaside, to a friend’s house, or a music concert, my father would make time to sneak off to some second hand or charity shops. This then extended to car boot fairs, where we would wander around as a family, browsing for items we enjoyed collecting or to make some extra money. This really brought my inner ‘dealer’ out. My childhood friend, Colin, and I would split from the group and wander around together as we shared a love of all things Garfield and Peanuts (Snoopy). We would combine forces and split our haul at the end. We both ended up with thousands of pieces of memorabilia; mine eventually end up on eBay in my latter teen years.

    We were also encouraged to look out for antiquities. My parents knew I had an eye for this, even at such a young age, and would give me a little money to buy bits and pieces with the hope of making some ‘pocket money’. One day I wandered around a Wiltshire boot fair and found a bronze rams head for £5. I snapped it up and hauled it back to my parents. My father took me to a local antiques shop with the bronze and they bought it from me for £150. I put the proceeds towards my first television in 1998. That was enough incentive for me. I continued to buy bits and pieces every week; once, I even came back to my parents having bought a whole stall, including the trestle tables, for £10. The owner was fed up and wanted to go home but not take everything with them. I happily obliged and gradually sold the bits off to pay for more purchases.

    19th Century Burmese Lacquered Octagonal Side Table Although a little worse for wear, this Burmese table has been with me for around 20 years. I still love it as much as the day I got it.

    As I got older, I attended auctions with my father, where he would slowly stroll around and explain what things were and why they were valuable or collectible. I once expressed an interest in a small 19th century hexagonal Burmese lacquer table, not something your average 8 or 9-year-old would want. However, to encourage this interest he bought it for me; it still sits proudly, albeit a little battered, in my house over 20 years later.

    Auctions were the origin of my love for glass. In the late 1990s, I bid on some (unbeknownst to me) Murano glass clown figures. A lady approached me after the auction and told my father and I that they were quite collectible and were worth far more than we had paid for them. This spurred us in to learning more about glassware. At the time, mid-to-late 20th century glass was wholly underappreciated and there was little information available. My father had a friend who had been a glass collector, dealer, and restorer for the best part of 50 years. He would show us a variety of pieces every time we visited him, and these little ‘lessons’ would prove invaluable. In addition to this, when he retired he gave me decades of original glass catalogues, adverts, and articles from dozens of companies across the globe. It took me years to scan in the thousands of articles and images, but I now have a comprehensive archive of information about dozens of manufacturers going back nearly 70 years.

    Around the early 2000s the market for retro British art glass was thriving, with pieces by Geoffrey Baxter at Whitefriars being the most popular. I believe this was the start of the new wave of collecting; the 20th century was now in fashion.

    By 2005 I had left further education and, after being dissuaded from a career in medicine, I decided to put my years of trading to good use. I spent my free time (in-between part time jobs) buying and selling pieces we had bought. The first thing I did on my 18th birthday was set up an eBay account! After my father died about a year later, I was tasked with trying to sell all the pieces he had bought over the decades. The only sensible thing to do was to start a business. I have always believed that there is a lot in a name, so after much deliberating I settled on ‘Legacy’. After all, this legacy was bestowed upon me by my grandmother and father. It seemed a fitting tribute to the situation.

    Retro Italian Bitossi Aldo Londi Leaf-Shaped Bowl No. 95/19 MCM or Mid-Century Modern has increased in popularity over the last couple of years. Pieces like this 1950s bowl, signed by Aldo Londi for Bitossi, have become very desirable.

    We fast-forward to the present day - 2017. Fashions have changed tremendously since I first started. Charity shops, once frowned upon and considered tacky, are now trendy vintage boutiques attracting celebrities, fashionistas, and the like. Many people have come to realise that modern counterparts are not made in the same way that the originals are made. These older pieces were made to last, and have stood the test of time. They are also easy to purchase at a fraction of the price of a new piece, making them more appealing. Many pieces are now bought and restored or (dare I say it) upcycled.

    Another element that has changed is that although we have distinguished trends, for example, ‘MCM’ or mid-century modern, there is a market for everything. This shift in trends has influenced my buying habits, and accounts for the rather eclectic taste seen on the website.

    Although a fluctuating market has left many businesses uncertain of what lies ahead, I am confident that there is a great future for antiques.

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