The definitive guide to buying antiques online

Posted on 26 April 2018

The definitive guide to buying antiques online

So you’ve seen the perfect set of Regency dining chairs, exuding elegance and refinement. You can picture them in your beautiful home. One slight issue. You haven’t actually seen them in the flesh.

You’ve seen them in the virtual world, digitally so to speak, but not actually touched them and been able to inspect the craftsmanship in person.

So, how can you be sure that they are up to scratch? How do we know this beautiful artifact will live up to expectations?

Will it be the real McCoy? What will the condition be like? Will I be ripped off?

After all, this is not a mass-produced item with its vital statistics plastered everywhere. It’s unique. It’s your ‘Je ne sais quoi’. So what if there are too many unknown entities?

Here at HMC, we’re accustomed to these commonplace buyer concerns and hope we can do our best to allay your fears.


Buying antiques online has become de rigueur 

With more antique 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 careful consideration.


HMC Hints & Tips


Is the dealer credible?

When purchasing antique furniture, always buy from a respected, established dealer. Their knowledge can help inform your choice and will assist in your decision making. Only bid in marketplaces that offer help for antique hunters. Easily accessible customer support contacts are also a good sign.

Quality. Quality. Quality

When purchasing antiques, 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 better quality the item, 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.

Condition is Paramount

The condition is imperative and dictates the value of the item. The description of the piece should provide you with full detail; the circa age, period style, timber, condition of the piece, any restoration that has been undertaken, and the provenance if possible. Ask for a condition report detailing any damage, repairs, and restoration. This way you are able to determine the authenticity of the piece and guarantee it is not a replica, or whether it has not been restored to a high standard.

Photos & Descriptions

It may sound obvious, but only purchase items that have clear, detailed descriptions and photographs. As photographs of the item of antiques 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. Check the description has the dimensions, getting a clear interpretation of the scale of the piece is vital, especially if you’re theming a room. It’s better to check and send the seller a message for any clarification to avoid disappointment. 

Plan the space

To check the furniture will fit into your room, cut a template to place on the floor. This will help you to visualise the impact the item will have in the space.


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 dissatisfied when it arrives.

Fraud Prevention

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.

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 antique can be traced back to the dealer should any issues arise.

Customer Service

Does the website have a contact number, email address or enquiry form? It is worth making contact beforehand to check that any queries may be answered either before, during or after the purchase in your buyer journey.

Online Reviews

Can you see if the website has any details of recent testimonials or feedback provided by past customers? In the digital age, this has become the norm. Detailed and authentic customer reviews can provide reassurance about a seller’s current business performance.


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:

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