Training Young Collectors to Buy Old Antiques


When it comes to purchasing art and furniture, an “antiques fair” may not appeal to young buyers. It sounds too expensive, too stuffy, and “just not for me.” Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth. On April 26-29 the Merchandise Mart hosts the annual International Antiques Fair. With nearly 100 international dealers the fair is one of many excellent opportunities for individuals to find unique furniture, art, jewelry and decorative pieces for their homes. 

Speaking specifically about young and new collectors, Leslie Hindman, President and CEO of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, suggests that people should use opportunities like fairs and auctions to really enjoy the process of collecting. It’s easy (or at least appears so) to go to a mass retailer and pick out a couch or dining room table. But the thought that this is an simpler or less expensive option is just false. “People are smarter to buy objects and furniture that have history,” says Hindman. “These items actually cost about the same as anything you would buy new, and what you’re getting is unique.” 

The benefit of going to a fair is also the opportunity to talk to the dealers. The dealers want to talk to customers, to tell them about each piece—where it was made; how it was made; why the craftsmanship is significant. Dealers tend to be enthusiastic about what they do and want to share that enthusiasm about the objects with collectors. “It is an extremely fun process,” Hindman adds, “and I think people can forget to or don’t take the time to have fun and to learn.”

No matter how much or how little you purchase at a fair, auction or gallery, the experience will be far more exciting and personal than a trip to the mall or time spent online. Attending antiques-focused events will expose you to an expansive range of styles and designs. If you have only ever looked at Mid-Century Modern furniture, you may discover that you also like 19th Century French objects. “It is a fantastic opportunity to find inspiration,” says Hindman.

Hindman added that there is also financial benefit to purchasing antiques. A desk from a mass retailer is unlikely to appreciate, while an authentic antique desk undoubtedly will.