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When embarking on a new phase of life, like a new marriage, a new home, a new job, a big anniversary, or retirement, many people chronicle the experience with the purchase of an important object.

When looking for an investment object that is both fun and smart, art and antique objects immediately come to mind. It is that item you always wanted, and you are ready to “treat yourself.”

For the novice collector or even the seasoned art and antiques lover, jumping into the market can be tricky. This is a great time to buy, so here I will share my insider tips about starting an art collection.

I’ve compiled an Art & Antiques Buying Guide to help you find, understand, negotiate, and collect the best examples of fine art and antiques.


Learn from Masters

First, learn as much as you can about art and antiques in places where you are not tempted to buy art or antiques.

What does that mean? How do you start a collection without buying?

First, visit museums, historical societies, libraries, gallery exhibitions, and other places where fine art and antiques are on display but are not for sale.

You should learn about the various media (e.g., pastels, watercolors, bronzes, oils on canvas, etc.), art movements (e.g., Surrealism, Impressionism, Contemporary Realism, etc.), and subjects (e.g., still lifes, seascapes, portraits, etc.) first so you have a good idea of what sparks your interest.

Upon gaining this understanding, you’ll be better equipped to invest in something good that you also like. This method will prevent you from buying something on impulse or just because the opportunity presents itself.


Stick to Your Budget

Don’t think about buying a work of art or antique piece until you establish a budget. I know, I know … boring. Boring but necessary.

When you have your budget in mind, settle on it, and stick to it. Do not waiver. Don’t convince yourself to overspend because you fell in love with a piece either.

No matter what, you will be happy if you stick to your budget. Most of the time, you’ll get a good piece this way because you are not considering too many objects at once, which could cause confusion.


Slow Down

Forget life’s distractions when you are considering a major art or antique purchase. This work of art or antique object will become a part of your home life for years to come.

Learn to look at the work of art or antique piece for more than just a few minutes. Don’t let a pushy dealer, encouraging friend, or other “background noise” distract or rush you into a major art or antique purchase.

Take a minute and just stand there and quietly look at the work. Think about what you see and try to figure out what you like about it. Consider it, ponder it, and don’t rush it.


Back to Basics

Try to consider the basics, starting with black and white. Don’t be taken in by an artwork’s color or an antique’s various ornamental details.

Some people who sell art or antiques will try to get you to like a particular work based solely on its colors or how it may fit into your home’s color scheme.

Remember, a big part of buying something good is learning to recognize quality pieces. The goal is to buy something you like that is also of high quality.


Buy Training

Buy the work of the trained artists and established craftsmen.

Better yet, buy the work of artists who teach other artists, like those established professors from prestigious art schools. When it comes to market success, those who can, teach!

Appraisers know that the best quality art and antiques are always the best choice for a collection. Collecting quality art and antiques is always a good investment.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori appears on The Curse of Oak Island on History channel. She gives appraisal value information at,, or (888) 431-1010.

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