“Antiques Roadshow” is the best show for explaining fakes — reproductions vs. real antiques.

Items that are commonly fake include celebrity autographs, pottery, photographs, paintings, and reproductions such as toys, glass, china and porcelain. Collectors should always educate and know the difference. Reproductions are usually crude, sloppy and churned out like an assembly line of products, so a new collector can easily go for reproductions and fakes, too.

New reproduction jadeite pieces found at the Merchant General Store in Black River Falls, Wis. (Contributed photo)
New reproduction jadeite pieces found at the Merchant General Store in Black River Falls, Wis. (Contributed photo)

With specialty items such as furniture, it is best to check out the background of the item. Do your research. Example: If I see cut nails in a cabinet drawer and the wood surrounding the nail is not discolored, immediately I know something isn't right, because it should be discolored. Techniques and hardware used also have to fit the time period.

If looking up an item on eBay, look for the high and the low, and remember this is not the value, but is what someone wants for the piece.

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It is always good to know from a seller's standpoint as much, if not more, than the buyer, but don't expect the buyer to pay top dollar. Maker's marks, details, and the quality of craftsmanship are very important, as are documentation, photos, or guarantee of authenticity. Otherwise, you may sometime down the road suffer from buyer's or seller's remorse.

More advice

Neil Hunt, of A-Z Collectibles in Winona: “I do most of my buying from local online auctions, but I don't mind people bringing items in. I have found most have not done GOOD research and have inflated ideas as to what their items are worth. Example: They are looking on eBay at the selling prices, rather than what items sold for. I don't mind showing people how to research their items.”

Neil Hunt in his shop, A-Z Collectibles, in downtown Winona. (Contributed photo)
Neil Hunt in his shop, A-Z Collectibles, in downtown Winona. (Contributed photo)

Brenda Jannsen, of Treasures Under Sugar Loaf Antiques in Winona: “We have purchased some estates, but due to lack of time and labor, we prefer to avoid it. To purchase a collection, we usually ask for pictures ahead of time. Do make a phone call and set up an appointment. We can give a rough estimate of what we might pay. If the seller likes the estimate, they bring in the collection. We do not pay with cash, only with a business check. This helps reduce the chance of receiving stolen goods."

"As a purchaser, it is helpful if the seller has a starting price in mind. If it is too far from our price, we can avoid wasting their time. It actually saves time, because it is far easier to say 'yes' or 'no' to a price, than to come up with a price off the top of my head! We appreciate estate sellers who keep in mind that we are resellers. The price we pay is not top dollar, and is what the item is worth to us, not the price a person might find online. The price we pay depends on many things, including condition, ease of display, and size of the pieces. We take into consideration how quickly the items will sell, and also how many of the type of item is already for sale in the store.”

Chris Rand Kujath, of Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartville, along with Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques & Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles: Both shop owners look at entire estate items, and are open to viewing and buying an entire estate or having folks come in their shops with a few items or sending pictures.

Kujath: “Sometimes viewing items can take as little as a few minutes, or can be much longer if we are at our shop, so we can usually spend more time if outside of the shop with no other distraction.”

Kieffer: “We buy a wide variety of items from people; we pay cash, and can buy one thing or an entire estate!”

Chris Rand Kujath, left, owner of the Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartville, with vendor, friend and helper Michelle Peterson. (Contributed photo)
Chris Rand Kujath, left, owner of the Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartville, with vendor, friend and helper Michelle Peterson. (Contributed photo)

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at life@postbulletin.com.