Antique dealers buy and sell items which are valuable because they are old or in demand. These can include furniture, household goods, industrial goods, china, glass, paintings, toys, books, records, coins, stamps and old postcards.
You could be:
- buying and selling in a range of items, or specialising in one area, for example, in furniture
- attending auctions, trade fairs, markets and house clearances to bid for and sell goods
- buying, selling and checking prices of items on the internet
- constantly looking out for bargains and monitoring the market
- studying the identity and value of items
- negotiating prices with sellers and buyers
- making minor repairs to damaged goods
- building up a network of contacts
- advising customers what their items are worth for insurance or sales purposes.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
If you work in an auction house your starting salary could be around £15,000 a year. If you are self-employed your income depends on the profit you make on what you buy and sell. Successful dealers can earn from £25,000 to £60,000 a year.
- You spend part of your time in a retail shop, auction house or market stall.
- You must be willing to travel widely to buy items.
- There might be heavy lifting.
- You will probably work long hours, including evenings and weekends.
- You could work part time.
- You will spend time at a computer, using the internet to research, buy and sell items.
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There are no formal entry requirements for antique dealers. You can get in by various ways.
- Find job vacancies in the antique field, for example: saleroom assistant, porter or driver – by approaching dealers yourself.
- Get experience and on the job training as a dealer's assistant or porter in a saleroom or auction house. You do not usually need qualifications.
- Get involved as a hobby, researching and collecting items, visiting art galleries, dealers and showrooms.
- Sell items on a stall at a market or on the internet.
- A degree in a subject like history, fine art or history of fine art, or even in a business related subject, is useful.
- If you have a degree in another subject, but are interested in antiques, you might also get in.
- A driving licence may be essential, for transporting items and travelling to trade fairs.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You should have:
- a passionate interest in and good knowledge of antiques
- negotiation and selling skills
- good communication and numeracy skills
- an ability to keep accurate records
- good judgement, for buying and selling
- practical skills to keep items in good condition
- physical fitness if you are working with large items, such as furniture
- a willingness to do lots of your own research.
- Museums and big auction houses run private training courses. The fees are often high.
- Most dealers build up their knowledge of antiques over years, usually starting as a hobby.
- Attending evening classes and lectures is also useful.
- Big auction houses offer the best promotion chances, with possible progression to valuer, specialist dealer or auctioneer.
- There are also jobs with small specialist companies.
- There is a lot of competition for jobs, and many antique dealers are self-employed.
- Some dealers also offer antique repair services.
The British Antique Dealers' Association website publishes advice on making a career in antiques.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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