Buying Antiques In England


Buying antiques in England is by far my favorite place to shop. We first went to England in 1991 and bought our first container of English antique furniture. A standard container is forty feet long, what you see the eighteen wheelers hauling down the highways of America. Now I am not suggesting you go buy a container of English furniture, I was just relaying our first experience. Back then you could fill a container of “shipping goods” for under $10,000. For about fifteen years we have taken people on buying trips to England. We were responsible for picking them up at the airport and taking them around to all of the antiques shops, fairs, and trade warehouses. And then picking up all the purchases, packing the container and shipping to our warehouse. So we have quite a bit of experience of buying antiques in England.

Buying Antiques In England Is Like No Other Place

This report will be a little bit travel brochure, but mainly will be what we have found in our twenty years of buying antiques in England, to be the best places to shop in England. This will be a series of articles rather than one very long one. I considered making this into an EBook and selling it online.
There are a lot of shopping guides, but none that I’m familiar with coming from the perspective of an American buying antiques in England. One of the questions I get asked the most is how can I make any money (from a dealer’s perspective) with all the expenses involved. Just let me say that after you have shopped in England, there is no place in America where you can find as many things in a relatively short amount of time and for these prices. Although most of the people who traveled with us were antique dealers, we had others who just loved antiques and want to learn from the dealers and buy where we buy. I might add that two of those people that went along for the fun, became antique dealers because they enjoyed the experience so much. And most of the people that went with us, did so many times. We had people travel with us and spend as little as $250 and as much as $80,000. The average container on our buying trips had about $125,000 to $150,000 of merchandise on them, quite a difference from those $8,000 shipping goods containers. Shipping goods are the type of “antiques” you see at a typical auction of English containers. I say “antiques” because they consist mainly of English “used furniture” from the 1920’s through the 1950’s.buying-antiques-in-englandYou need to try to do a good bit of shopping for English antiques and smalls here in the States before you go to England. Otherwise, you will not know what you are seeing once you get there. It will still be overwhelming when you go the first time, even for experienced dealers. The typical response we get at the end of trips is, “I wish I had bought more.”

The Experience of Buying Antiques In England

Even though we would tell people that we would be glad to help them and give our opinion on whether something was a good buy or not, there is a reluctance to spend money in the beginning of the trip (and we were the same way). We would even help negotiate prices for people, although most place we went, they know who we are and know that we bring Americans regularly to buy and if they don’t treat us fairly, we will not return.
We purposely start off in some antique shops so it is a slower pace and everyone can take their time and browse and start getting comfortable with what they are seeing. I might add this is true for shopping in any new situation. I remember the first time I shopped in France, I saw things I had never seen before, so I didn’t know if they were priced correctly or not. I should have known if I had never seen it before and I liked it, I should have bought it. It was a antique iron bed from Italy with inlaid mother of pearl on the headboard. I have never seen another one like it and still kick myself for not buying it.
Antique dealers are always looking for the unusual. In the next article I will give some travel tips and how to prepare for the trip. We have seen first hand when people travel unprepared,  the trip can be unpleasant. We want you to be prepared for buying antiques in England so it will be an extremely pleasant experience where you will want to go back as soon as possible.

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