8 Top Tips on Buying Antiques Online

Rachel McGrath owner of online antiques business, Hobson May Collection offers some advice to entrepreneur and investment readers on what to keep in mind when buying antiques online.


With more antiques dealers selling online, and all the big auction houses offering online bidding services, browsing for antiques has never been so easy. But while shopping from your sofa might seem like the easy option, particularly if you’re not sure of exactly what type of item you’re looking for, the increased risk of fakes and misleading provenances requires some shrewdness.

Rachel gives us her top tips for antiques shopping online.

  1. When purchasing antique furniture, always buy from a respected, established antiques dealer. Check that they are members of the national antique trade associations such as The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers (LAPADA) or The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA). Their knowledge can help inform your choice and will assist in your decision making. Only bid in marketplaces that offer help for antiques hunters. Buying and selling guides as well as instruction videos are all indicators of reputable sites. Easily accessible customer support contacts are also a good sign.
  2. When purchasing antique furniture, really look at the quality of the item; by buying the best you can possibly afford, it will enable you to enjoy it for many years to come. The higher the quality of the item you purchase the more longevity there tends to be in the piece, in turn this saves you money as you do not have to re-purchase such items in the near future.
  3. The condition of the item is imperative. The description of the piece should provide you with all the available information for the item; the circa age, period style, timber, condition of the piece, any restoration that has been undertaken, and the provenance of the piece. Ask for a condition report detailing any damage, repairs, and restoration. This way you are able to determine the authenticity of the item and guarantee it is not a replica, or whether it has not been restored to a high standard.
  4. It may sound obvious, but only purchase items that have clear, detailed descriptions and photographs. As photographs of the item of furniture can be digitally enhanced, ask for extra pictures, for complete peace of mind. It is better to check everything thoroughly before buying the piece, you can specify what angles you want to see or if there are any details on the item you wish to take a closer look at.
  5. To check the furniture will fit into your room, cut a template to place on your floor. This will help you to visualise the impact the item will have in the space.
  6. Remember that when buying online you’ll need to consider the shipping costs. Always ensure that the seller uses reputable delivery companies and make sure you understand return policies; as you can’t see or touch the item before purchasing, think about how easy the item will be to return if you’re unsatisfied when it arrives.
  7. Protect your identity and your cash. Look for secure payment solutions such as Auction Payment Network (APN) and PayPal. Systems like this ensure that all transactions are secure. In addition, to ensure your online safety, only buy from marketplaces that offer up-to-date fraud protection software, therefore ensuring only trustworthy sellers.
  8. If you have any questions or concerns when the item arrives, contact the seller immediately. Most sellers will provide their contact information in their auction listing, and when you make a purchase, always ask for a receipt from the dealer with their name, address and contact details. Not only is this evidence of the purchase, but it means the item of furniture is easily able to be traced back to the dealer should any issues arise.


Whether you need help in starting a collection, adding to an existing one or simply finding a one-off purchase, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Hobson May Collection regarding any query you may have on 07768 304056 or email: sales@hobsonmaycollection.com

Rachel McGrath
Rachel McGrath