A Beginners Guide To Antiquing

When we get a rare child free day we like to explore the many antique markets in Lewes. Over the years we’ve discovered some markets are better than others, prices fluctuate depending on current trends and not everything sold is ‘antique’.

We’ve purchased a few duds, been pleasantly surprised by the odd treasure and disheartened by the misplaced High Street tat.

Printers tray stamps

If you are off out antiquing for the first time here’s some tips for a better shopping experience.

Knowing where to go

If you are after something specific it is advisable to research vendors who specialise in your chosen era or pieces of interest, you may need to travel further afield but you’re less likely to be disappointed. If however you are just having a general look, with nothing particular in mind an antique market with several vendors is perfect for discovering random, unexpected treasures.

Knowing your limits

If you know what you are looking for, do some research as to its approximate value. It’s important to remember that value is subjective, much will depend on the condition of the item, popularity and location of the vendor.

Setting a budget is prudent to not spending more cash than your willing to part with, it’s especially important if at an auction.

Printers trays are just one item which have increased in cost steeply over the past few years. I purchased several large original wooden printers tray a few years ago for £15 each, now they are selling for at least £25 each due to their increase in popularity in home styling.

Printers tray

The above number plate is one of my favourite finds, a totally random purchase but I love it!

Knowing your sizes

Before splashing out on a new to you cabinet or coffee table, make sure it fits! Measure the room or nook you are shopping for and take the measurements with you. Don’t forget to measure the door ways, I speak from experience!

Knowing when to walk away

Unless you are prepared to do some work it’s best to avoid any pieces that require restoring, this can often be a timely process and will most likely decrease the items value.

Check wooden items for signs of infestation, not something you want to invite in to your home!

Beware of costly ‘knock offs’. Many antique markets have items which are obviously not antique, retro nor vintage. In fact some items are fresh off the production line, if you want to purchase these, it’s entirely your prerogative, but you will probably find them cheaper on eBay!

Knowing potential additional costs

When purchasing linens or quilts be mindful of laundering them, some antique quilts have literately disintegrated when being washed. You may need to factor in the costs of specialist cleaning when setting a budget.

Antique quilt

It’s also worth taking in to account the cost of additional items required to make an item useable, such as ribbons for typewrites.


Most importantly, have fun!

Trawling through items steeped in a rich, mostly unknown history is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Not only are you likely to come away with a new to you purchase but you are ensuring a once much loved item continues to provide joy for years to come.

Vintage postcards and luggage sticker

These postcards are another of my favourite finds, each one tells it’s own story and shows our local area in a time long since forgotten.


  1. I don't go looking for antiques but I love old stuff :) Great post and I love the typewriter - I had a vivid memory of the smell when I used to use my Mum's typewriter, the inky, greasy, metallic smell of typewriters. Thanks for that x

  2. Louise Fairweather24 April 2015 at 11:08

    Luckily I don't have the time at the moment to go through and find such stuff as I would need a bigger house to put it in!


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