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How to Give an Antique Gift

Tips for Transforming an Ordinary Object into Something Extraordinary


Milk Glass Candy Dish

A rather ordinary antique or collectible, like a milk glass candy dish, can be transformed into an extraordinary gift by adding personal touches

- Photo by Pamela Wiggins
How is giving an antique or collectible any different from a regular old gift? Gifting an antique or collectible, even to someone who isn’t a collector, can be a very special treat for the recipient. But when you take the time to make the gift even more special, you can transform an ordinary gift into something extraordinary. Chances are, you'll take the gift-giving experience to new heights for yourself as well.

Consider these tips to make your antique gift-giving really special.

Pass Along a Family Heirloom

Think about passing a treasure on to someone now, instead of waiting until later, if you’re certain you’re ready to part with it. This can be one of the most heart-warming gifts ever for both the giver and receiver, especially if the item is something you know the intended recipient adores.

Include a note about who originally owned the item, how old it is, and if it was received for a special occasion such as a wedding, anniversary or holiday gift. If you can, include a copy of a photo of the person who owned the item with it as well. Chances are it will be the gift of a lifetime, and something the recipient will hold dear for years to come before passing it along to another family member.

Document Provenance and/or History

Documenting provenance on items you pick up locally won’t be quite as easy as if you know who owned the item already, like with family heirlooms. However, there are times when you can glean insight from a dealer about an estate where the item was purchased or the person from which they bought it. If that type of information is available, and interesting enough to note, be sure to include it with your gift.

At the very least, however, you can tuck a little note in with the gift providing some history on the piece. To get this information, ask the dealer you purchased the item from what they know about it. Chances are, whether you purchase and item in a brick and mortar shop or online, the dealer will have some basic information available. Sometimes dealers have good intentions, but don’t get their facts quite right so always keep that in mind. Be sure to follow up with some online research of your own to confirm the age, origin and company who made the item if there are marks present on the piece before passing that information on to a friend or family member.

If you purchase something from someone totally clueless about the item, you can easily do some online research yourself to come up with basic facts to share with your gift.

Add a Personal Touch (and Save Some Money, too!)

When money is tight passing along an antique or collectible gift from your collection could be the answer to a gift-giving dilemma. Fill a vintage candy jar with someone’s favorite treat or homemade goody and you’ve got a great gift. Frame a beautiful vintage postcard you picked up in your antiquing adventures for someone who treasures old things. Pair a lovely antique cup and saucer or kitschy vintage mug with a favorite tea, coffee or even homemade cocoa mix.

Using your imagination to personalize an antique or collectible, even a rather ordinary item, can transform it into an extraordinary gift. Just keep in mind the person’s overall style, tastes and preferences when choosing your gift and you can’t go wrong.

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