1. Learn Something New – For most anyone, even people who aren’t true antiquers, there’s always something to learn at an antique show. You can peruse items that were once commonplace but are rarely seen in businesses and homes today like typewriters and oil lamps. You can see how much all the stuff you remember from your grandmother’s house, from Depression glass to Christmas decorations, is worth now. And, if you decide to buy something, you can practice your haggling skills, while you’re there.
2. Take in Some History – Antique shows are chock full of historical items, if that sort of thing interests you. Look for old magazines featuring important stories from the past (but only handle them gingerly, and with the permission of the dealer, if you’re not intending to purchase them). Check out old postcards for views of your hometown to compare how much the main streets and buildings have changed over the years. Look for vintage clothing and shoes to see how different they look from today’s styles, and also observe how history repeats itself in fashion.
3. Develop an Eye for Quality – For avid collectors and budding pickers alike, developing an eye for quality is probably the most important lesson you can learn at an antique show. After you master this skill, you can distinguish finely crafted items from the more mundane, and pick up some real bargains while out shopping regardless of the venue.
Do this by taking a close look at the things that interest you most, especially expensive items that seem similar at first glance like cut glass and pattern glass, for example. Examine details, with the help of the dealer who owns the item that fascinates you, and ask questions about the piece. Be upfront that you’re trying to learn more about fine antiques and what makes them so valuable, and many dealers will help you with a brief explanation. If they seem uncooperative knowing you’re not going to buy the item you’re taking a look at, then move on to another booth and learn from someone more willing to share their expertise.
4. Buy Yourself Something Nice – Probably the most obvious on the list, but this one is worth mentioning for a number of reasons. First, you never know what the dealers, even at high end antique shows, are going to find to stick in a corner of their booth. If that item is out of the dealer’s element, they might price it right to move it along. Secondly, there’s a sleeper of some sort in every venue. If you’re not accustomed to shopping at antique shows thinking along these lines, change your mindset and see what you can find.
5. Support a Charity or Organization – While not as common as in the past, there are a number of antique shows across the country that support charities or community organizations. Most are very high end featuring cream of the crop antiques. When you attend these shows, you know the cost of admission is being used for a good cause even if you leave with nothing more than a little more antiques knowledge under your belt.