Preserving Your Antiques

Preserving your antiques is important for both monetary and moral reasons.

Antiques bring joy into the lives of their owners every day, but it is also the responsibility of antique owners to properly preserve their collections. Antiques are more than just old objects, they are also often valuable collector’s items and even significant cultural artifacts. It is crucial financially and morally for collectors to preserve their antiques so they will still be around for future generations. Unfortunately, because antiques are by definition very old, taking good care of them presents antique owners with unique challenges. Thankfully, the experts at the Old & New Shop, have compiled this guide to help you with the goal of preserving your antiques. 

Challenges To Preserving Your Antiques

Antiques face different threats depending on their material composition, age, and storage conditions. However, there are some potential environmental threats that can risk the health of your antiques. In order to preserve the good health of your antiques, here are the factors to help you gauge the preservation and longevity of keeping your antiques safe: light, temperature, humidity, pests, human contact, chemical pollution, and incompatible material composition.

1. Light

Exposing antiques to excessive amounts of light speeds up their deterioration. It is especially important to protect antique photographs, textiles, paper artifacts, and furniture from direct sunlight and fluorescent light. 

2. Temperature

Antiques can be harmed by heat, cold, and temperature fluctuation particularly if they are made of rubber, wood, or metal. It is essential to store antiques in temperature-controlled environments. 

3. Humidity

 It is important to store antiques at a consistent humidity of 45 to 55 percent. High-humidity levels will promote the development of mold, pests, and rust while low-humidity environments can cause objects to lose moisture and become brittle. 

4. Pests

Historic materials attract many different types of pests that can threaten your antiques.  It’s important to inspect them for threatening organisms regularly. For instance, paper antiques (like books) attract silverfish, wool antiques attract moths, and wood antiques attract termites.

5. Human contact

Sometimes we are actually the greatest threats to our own antiques. People can damage antiques by handling them improperly. In addition, the residues, sweat, and oil on human hands can make even touching some objects without nylon gloves a threat to those antiques.  

6. Chemical pollution

Everyday chemicals can also threaten your antiques in surprising ways. For instance, attempting to clean your antique with the wrong cleaning or polishing product can cause damage (it is important to consult an expert on how best to polish/clean your antiques). Even airborne chemical pollution can harm objects made of metal and marble particularly when they are outdoor items like marble statuary and iron architectural elements.

7. Incompatible Material Composition

Some threats to your antiques were sealed on the day of their manufacture. Antiques composed of incompatible materials, such as wood and leather or wood and paint, are inherently vulnerable to deterioration and need to be monitored. It is also important to note that different types of antiques require their own specific preservation techniques geared toward what type of antiques they are and their material composition. 

When To Pursue Antique Restoration

Some antique owners move beyond simply preserving their antiques and pursue restoring or even refurbishing them. However, it is important to proceed with caution when exploring this option because a botched restoration or refurbishment job can damage your antique or decrease its value.

If you are interested in restoring your antique, the first step is to have it inspected by a licensed appraiser or restoration expert, so they can advise you on the piece’s value and your restoration options. In general, any action that changes the original character, style, or tone of an antique can decrease its monetary value, but restoration can still be the right call under some circumstances. If your antique is unusable in its current condition, and you want to continue using it, then you should consider restoration. On the other hand, if the piece has significant historical, financial, or sentimental value that would be threatened by restoration, it may not be the right choice.

If you do pursue restoration, it is best done in a way that is as non-invasive and reversible as humanly possible. If your goal is to maximize the value of your antique, rather than just conserving its functionality and aesthetics, it is best to pay a professional to perform any restoration. 

Appraise Your Antiques with the Old & New Shop

If you are looking to appraise and/or sell any of your antiques please contact the Old & New Shop for help so that our experts can assist you.

Collecting Rare and Antique Books

Antique book collecting is a fulfilling hobby.Collecting rare and antique books is a very fulfilling hobby that has been practiced for centuries. The stories contained in old books and the stories of their creation and previous owners, inspire the imagination and are a great source of fascination for many people. Unfortunately, rare book collecting is a pastime that can feel inaccessible to many beginners because of the necessary knowledge and perceived costs associated with becoming a collector. Thankfully, our experts at the Old & New Shop have compiled a guide to help novice book collectors start their own collecting journeys. 

Book Collecting Basics 

The first step in every rare and antique book-collecting journey is understanding the books you are setting out to collect. There are three terms that every book collector needs to understand:

1. Antiquarian books

In general, books published in the 19th century or earlier are considered “antiquarian.” Unlike some other varieties of antiques, age is not necessarily a main determinant of a book’s value, so many 18th-century books are actually fairly inexpensive relative to their age.

2. Rare books

A rare book is a book that is both in low supply and heavily sought after by collectors. Age and rarity are not directly correlated. The rarity of a book is what drives its monetary value not the age of a book. Some books published in 1920 are more valuable and expensive than other books published in the 1700s.

3. First edition books

First edition books are heavily sought after by collectors but not all books claimed to be “first edition” are of equal value. The first American edition of Huckleberry Finn published in 1885, can be accurately characterized as a “first edition” but so could a much newer copy of the book. A copy of Huckleberry Finn from the 1950s that first utilized illustrations by a famous artist, could also claim to be a first edition. However, the 1885 version of the book is much more sought after and therefore, tens of thousands of dollars more valuable than the version with the illustrations. 

Building Your Collection

When most people first start book collecting, oftentimes they start grabbing interesting volumes of books, haphazardly, or they simply seek the most valuable books they can get their hands on as an investment. However, veteran rare and antique book collectors warn against these approaches.  The experts recommend picking a theme for your collection that matters to you. Book collecting is more fulfilling when you are collecting books with a common theme that resonates with you. 

There are many themes available for you to choose from for your collection, which are as diverse as the books themselves. For instance, you can choose your favorite historical figure and collect as many first-edition biographies about them as you can. Abraham Lincoln has had around 15,000 books written about him which is more than enough to keep any collector busy for life. Alternatively, you can choose a favorite book and try and collect every edition that has been printed. Other possible book collection themes include specific authors, signed copies, geographical regions, the historical era of publication, children’s books, thematic story elements, fine leatherbound editions, nineteenth-century bindings, every conceivable book subject area, and more. The important thing is to choose a theme you can be passionate about! 

Finding and Determining The Value of Rare and Antique Books

It is possible to find rare and antique books in all of the places you would expect to find other kinds of antiques, including tag sales, and the homes of elderly relatives. However, it is best to seek out rare books from reputable sources like established book dealers, auction houses, and book-collecting membership groups like The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA). If you are considering purchasing a rare or antique book, you need to assess its rarity to determine its value. Rarity is determined by the book’s edition, condition, completeness, and scarcity.

Certain editions of books are more difficult to find and/or more sought after than other editions. First editions are more valuable than other editions, but as mentioned above, not all first editions are created equal. The better the condition of an old book, the more rare and, therefore, valuable the book. Similarly, complete books that still include their dust jackets and other accessories, are more valuable than copies that no are longer accompanied by their accessories. Books that are scarce and hard to find on the market, are also more expensive than books that are easy to find. Books that have all of these qualities are rare and, therefore, more in demand and valuable. Additionally, the history of the individual copy of a book, known as provenance can also increase its value if the copy is signed or previously owned by the author or another notable person.

In rare and antique book collecting, you get what you pay for. Books that are in less pristine condition or lack any of their accessories, will be less valuable, but less expensive and easier to procure. It is up to each individual collector to set their own collection boundaries. 

Old & New Shop

If you are looking to appraise or sell any of your antique books (or other antiques) please contact the Old & New Shop so that we can assist you on your antiquing journey.