Antiques Tips & Hints

To Help You Care For Your Antiques and Collectibles

With many years of experience in the antiques and collectibles field, Jim Antone has acquired a wealth of useful hints and tips for obtaining and caring for your items of value. Here is a partial list containing some of his tidbits of wisdom:

  • Use your sterling silver. The more it is handled, the prettier the patina becomes. After use, wash with a mild soap and buff dry with a clean cloth.
  • Never wrap your sterling silver or silver plate in plastic film wrap or newspaper.
  • If you buy an old book, always put it in the freezer for a month in order to kill any book mites.
  • Never clean your wood furniture with a spray furniture wax. It contributes to wax build-up over time and can dull the finish. Always clean with lemon or orange oil. After applying, let sit for a while, then buff with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Greased Lightning (a cleaning product found in the grocery store) is great to use on porcelain, china, and pottery for its initial cleaning. If the item is intended for food use, remember to clean with mild dish soap, then rinse.
  • Cleaning a quilt can be tricky. You should test any product you choose on an inconspicuous spot to make sure that it’s colorfast. We use one cup of Borax to a half-full tub of water. Dissolve Borax in water, lower quilt, and gently push down all areas that are above the water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain the water out while gently pushing the water from the quilt. Do not wring the quilt because it could damage the fibers and seams. Once you have pushed most of the water from the quilt, fill the tub again to half-full. Gently push the quilt around in the water to rinse. You may need to repeat these steps again until you are satisfied that the quilt is clean. Drain water and apply pressure to the quilt to get as much water out as possible. Remove quilt from tub and lay flat on a white sheet in a sunny part of your yard until dry. You may need to flip the quilt onto a dry sheet depending on thickness.
  • Always have an antique brass or copper item looked at by a reputable dealer before you polish it. By polishing, you may decrease the value of the item by removing its patina.
  • If at auction you intend to purchase an item, make sure you have checked the item thoroughly. Most auction houses offer no recourse for a damaged item. Buyer beware!
  • When attending estate sales, garage sales, or auctions, always bring a tape measure and a flashlight to help you thoroughly inspect an item before you decide on your purchase. Check underneath and inside drawers for dovetailing and joint construction. Check for small piles of dust around the feet of wooden furniture. It could be a sign of wood boring weevils or, worse, termites. If you forget your tape measure, remember that a dollar bill is six inches.
  • Never plug in an old radio; have it examined by a reputable electronics technician who specializes in older sets. Otherwise, you might burn up the power transformer, which can be expensive to replace.
  • Look both ways before you cross the street, and plant your corn early!