Hitting a flea market can often be the most effective way to locate those authentic Victorian items to add to your decor; however, the antiques festivals can be pretty overwhelming if you’re not prepared. Luckily, Laurie Gaines of the West Palm Beach Antiques Festival has some advice to navigating and finding that perfect piece at the fleas.
Planning: Focus your efforts on specific items, like things you collect or something for a particular spot in your home. If you are looking for a painting or piece of furniture, be sure to measure the area beforehand. Bring color swatches to match fabrics. Carry pictures of what you want; sometimes a dealer will have just what you’re looking for back in his shop—or even out in his truck.
Things you’ll need:
• List of measurements
• A tape measure
• Photos of where the item will go
• A shopping trolley (to help you get merchandise back to your car)
• Packing blanket or old sleeping bag to wrap items
• Bubble wrap for china
• A hat, sunscreen or umbrella for outdoor fairs
• Comfortable shoes
Victorian items to look out for: Lamps, silver and jewelry are fairly easy to find. Look for Victorian furniture in the South and Midwest regions. Linens, clothing and quilts are increasing in rarity, as they get more fragile every day. Most shows will have English china from the Staffordshire region or various types of flow blue.
To Negotiate or Not to Negotiate: Dealers are often open to negotiation, but don’t insult them by offering half their best price. Remember, they have to find the merchandise, clean it, repair it and often carry it to several shows—they deserve a fair profit.
How to determine authenticity on the spot: Look for wear in the right places. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good dealers will willingly share their expertise with you, making you a more knowledgeable buyer. Establish a relationship and tell them what you are looking for in case they come across it later.
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By Malena Jaime
Photography by Laurie Gaines