Art Deco Antiques - How to Avoid Fakes

in Art

For Sale: 1936 Napier Silverplate Penguin Cocktail Shaker: $45

If you saw that ad online there are three things that should come to mind:

  1) If it seems too good to be true it probably is

  2) You get what you pay for

  3) Let the buyer beware

Now there are in fact plenty of modern reproductions of that classic penguin shaker available all over the internet for around $45, extremely less expensive than the 73-year-old original Art Deco antique that could be worth closer to $2,500. No problem there, it is a really cool looking penguin and there are web sites devoted to selling high quality period reproductions. The point of this example is that when you are looking for real antique items make sure you are not passively mistaken, or actively mislead, into buying a new reproduction instead of an original antique that was created in the Art Deco period of the 1920's to the 1930's.

To be sure you are buying the real thing it helps to be very cautious and very knowledgeable. Here are some tips to help you get the best Art Deco antiques for your money.

Know the dealer

Reputation is everything. A dealer that has been established in your community for a long period of time probably deserves their reputation as an expert in the field with fair prices, or perhaps a less dignified reputation that makes you check for your wallet as you leave their shop- if you took a chance to go there in the first place. See if they are a member of a professional antique dealers or appraisers association. Most likely you will also scour the internet for antique related web sites and it may be harder to get a good feel for the seller's reputation, but you can also search online for negative reviews about the business. The bottom line, however, is that there is a real live person on the other side of that web page that you should be able to talk to before making your purchase. If you can't speak with someone that can intelligently talk about the item's age, condition, and manufacturer then it might be a good time to pass on the opportunity.

Know the item

Do a little research. Do a lot of research. This applies whether the antiques you are looking for are Art Deco lamps, mirrors, clocks, or other objects to build out your entire Art Deco interior or add to your collection. If you really want to add a Rene Lalique dragonfly vase to your collection then you should know how Lalique signed his pieces. A search for a Chiparus bronze and ivory sculpture of a dancer should be examined for the correct signature and foundry name, and that the ivory is not a modern synthetic. Know the market prices as well, what similar pieces have sold for recently. Keep in mind that the price alone will not be a definite indicator. Remember that $45 penguin? Nobody would believe that a real 1936 cocktail shaker would sell for that low price, but what if that same brand new reproduction were listed for $1,745? That might bring some buyers. I just hope you are not one of them.

Please visit my blog for more discussion about Art Deco antiques.

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Dave Heiss has 1 articles online

Dave Heiss loves learning about old stuff and sharing that info with anyone who cares.

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Art Deco Antiques - How to Avoid Fakes

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This article was published on 2010/03/29