How To Become an Antiques Dealer

If you're one of those people interested in old artifacts, curios, furniture, art or other such objects which are of interest to collectors, then becoming an antique dealer may be the perfect outlet for satisfying your interests and also make your living simultaneously. Listed below are some helpful tips on how you can become an antique dealer - although you may want to start by taking some online business classes.

Step 1

What's involved? You can choose to sell objects or collectible across the spectrum of antiques, or you can specialize in one specific area, such as art, furniture, jewelry, etc. The job specification for an antique dealer can cover any or all of the following tasks:

  • Providing qualified advice on value of antiques for sales or insurance purposes
  • Buying antiques from various sources - private homes or customers, estate sales, auctions, etc
  • Selling to customers in real-time from shops, galleries, auctions, fairs, etc; or online through auctions on sites such as eBay
  • Specializing in restoration of antiques, conducting research into the provenance of antiques and appraising their value

Step 2

Skills and qualifications required. While there is no formal degree or licensing required to becoming an antique dealer, it definitely helps if you have some basic grounding in art, history and related fields. Before you start-up on your business, it makes sense to work for a large gallery, museum or auction house, to gain experience and special skills such as valuation and appraisal or restoration. Once you've gained sufficient experience, you can then set-up your own business, either as a small shop or gallery, or sell to a larger market via the Internet. Usually, most antique dealers are self-employed, more often than not, carrying forward the family business, with very few employees. Those few people, who choose to work for someone else, will usually be found in museums, art galleries or auction houses such as Christie's.

Step 3

How to get started. One quality which is absolutely crucial to being an antique dealer is the ability to identify and rate antique pieces and have good marketing skills when it comes to dealing with customers in general, and collectors in particular. The latter, are usually experts themselves, therefore, you need to be well-learned and experienced to be able to convince them of the worth of a particular antique piece. However, experience only comes with time and these are a few specific methods by which you can become proficient:

  • Work as an apprentice or assistant to a well-established antique dealer or auction house
  • Take up special courses in jobs such as cataloging, valuation, appraisal, restoration, etc and take up work in museums, galleries or auction houses
  • Begin with collecting antiques as a hobby, looking for antique treasures in flea markets, fairs and exhibitions, estate sales, out-of-the-way shops and galleries, on holidays abroad, etc
  • To start a business, it is important to have a sufficiently large and good-quality collection of antique items, money to cover start-up costs of renting or buying space for a shop or gallery, a good network made up of other individuals or organizations involved in the antiques' business and the ability to build a loyal customer base and a reputation for quality and trustworthiness.

Becoming an antique dealer is neither a quick nor a cheap proposition. It requires ample time, perseverance, money and the gumption to make quick decisions when picking up antiques or when dealing with fussy collectors or customers.  You'll also need a certain amount of business savvy when it comes to setting price points; you can take online business courses to help you with this.


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