Source Antiques Like the Pros: How to Negotiate for Antiques

Negotiating for antiques isn’t that difficult or scary, but this is something many people struggle with – how to bargain, what’s appropriate, and what is expected? There was a time when tourists were optimistic about finding a bargain at flea markets. Buyers have been able to unearth valuable treasures in a booth filled with junk. Let’s just put it this way… there are no longer as many fleas at the flea markets. It’s often gorgeous, high-quality inventory… in fact, so gorgeous it’s almost ALL objects that you want to bring home with you. Many flea markets in Europe, such as the Paris Flea Market, are now set up as permanent stalls – which means it may feel more like a retail experience! So the question is – can you get a bargain at the flea market? And want to know the best way to get a bargain? In honesty, my best advice is to use our Antiques Diva Guides. We do volume business. The vendors know us and know our guides. They know we are coming back week after week and that our clients are pre-qualified shoppers. You’re not given the tourist price on an Antiques Diva Paris Tour – you’re given the locals price – because the vendors have relationships with us and know that Antiques Diva clients MEAN BUSINESS! 

For Americans, negotiating on antiques in Europe or Asia is more difficult than in the US due to the language and cultural differences. Part of our service is to translate and negotiate on our client’s behalf. But if you’re not with a guide, what should you do? You need to ask. 

And as I always say, the best price on antiques is the price you’re willing to pay. 

Negotiating for Antiques 

How to Negotiate for Antiques

Negotiation is a skill and an art – and not one that everyone is comfortable with. Bargaining at an online site is far less personal than negotiating with someone right in front of you – who no doubt has more haggling experience than you. Americans are used to paying the price on the price tag, while Asians believe the price tag is just the start point. Whether you’re negotiating on antiques in Europe or Asia, some bargaining guidelines will always apply. As a ground rule, expect to get at 10-15% discount. Negotiating for antiques is expected at flea markets, antique shows, stores and warehouses. But some dealers simply won’t negotiate – while others may surprise you with 25, 30 or even a 50% discount. Not all of these tips for negotiating on antiques will work with every antique dealer: but one or two should work in most circumstances!

  1. Be polite. The easiest most polite way to ask is to simply say, “Is that your best price?” It allows the vendor room to negotiate and sometimes they will surprise you by offering more of a discount than you expected. If you’re shipping with a reputed shipper who will give export papers you can tell the vendor it’s for export and automatically you can get a discount!
  2. Show some love. Antique dealers are proud of their inventory and want you to value their knowledge. Ask questions and show your interest in the piece so the dealer knows you are a serious buyer, not just a looky-loo.
  3. Cash is king. Cash brings you greater negotiating power, but occasionally vendors will take credit cards. Considering splitting a purchase between cash and credit for a better deal on larger items. While more and more vendors take credit cards, cash still has the most buying power when you’re negotiating for antiques.  
  4. What is it worth to you? Look at an item and come up with a figure you would be willing to pay for it. Do this before you look at the price tag! Then when you check the price, you will know whether it’s too high or just right for you. Having a set figure in your mind before you even start negotiations allows you to buy smartly and avoid buyer’s remorse later.
  5. Timing is extremely important. Looking for garden furniture and statues? Buy them in the off-season and you’re sure to score a better price.
  6. Check for damage. If you see unusual wear and tear on a piece and want to negotiate an extra discount due to damage, be polite! Never insult the vendor or his inventory.
  7. Check the weather. If bad weather is keeping away the buyers, dealers may be willing to negotiate bigger discounts in order to salvage the day.
  8. Buy multiple pieces from a single dealer. Most vendors are willing to negotiate a bigger discount when a buyer is purchasing multiple pieces rather than a single piece.
  9. Counteroffer. If you think you can score a better deal than the one offered, counteroffer with a reasonable price, such as splitting the difference.
  10. End of day is often the ideal time to negotiate for antiques because the vendor doesn’t want to pack everything up again. But beware… true finds often go early in the day. Early birds get the best selection of inventory – but not necessarily the best prices.

Dealer Discounts

Some vendors, antique shows or private sellers offer special discounts and arrangements to industry professionals, such as other antique dealers, interior designers or decorators. Often you will need some type of tax-exempt number, or even just a business card, to provide proof that you are in fact a dealer.

Negotiating for Antiques in Asia

How to bargain for antiques in Asia | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva

Haggling is part of the culture in Asia. And excellent bargains and unique and unusual pieces are available for Western shoppers. The key to successfully negotiating for antiques in Asia? Do your homework.

  1. Research the type of pieces available and what it sells for in Asia. Online research can tell you the approximate value of an item, and you can look to see what comparable items sell for in the US.
  2. Know the laws. There are some items that are illegal to sell in Asia and some that are illegal to import into the US. If the price seems to good to be true… it probably is.
  3. Shop at the right stores where the pieces are authentic and the dealers are honest. Many buyers don’t care if an antique is “authentic” – they are buying for a specific look and price. An antique dealer knows their inventory – but you still can score a find!
  4. Be ready to walk away. Because negotiation is a sport in Asia, the dealer may enjoy the process as much as making the sale! Demonstrate you know how to play the negotiation game.
  5. Learn some local terms. Being able to say hello and thank you in the local language shows you respect the seller.

At The Antiques Diva® & Co, our team of antiques and flea market local expert antiques guides know the markets like the back of their hand. Our job is to help clients find the exact market that has what they are looking for – maximizing their time, translating, negotiating, and coordinating shipping your antiques home by liaising with a 3rd party shipper. We save our clients time and money by custom planning their visit to the antiques markets and warehouses, and helping negotiate their purchases.

Book A Tour with The Antiques Diva & CoBOOK AN ANTIQUES DIVA BUYING TOUR


Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva


Source Antiques Like the Pros: Where to Buy Architectural Salvage

Unique and sustainable materials are important trends in interior design. Architectural salvage and reclaimed materials allow the homeowner to curate a unique, personal aesthetic that represents who they are – and isn’t identical to their neighbor’s home. We’ve seen architects use old French doors in new construction, interior designers source vintage sinks in multiple colors to complement a scheme, and clients buy gorgeous chandeliers to hang over their dining tables. The options really are endless. Owners of older homes often look for period pieces for restoration projects while those building new houses want something that adds the warmth and patina that only antiques can provide. Loft dwellers love finding burnished pieces and industrial salvage, perhaps from an old warehouse or factory. Reclaimed and repurposed materials add character and are one-of-a-kind statement pieces. 

Where to Buy Architectural Salvage in Europe and Asia 

Most of our clients purchase architectural salvage and reclamation pieces for a specific project: whether that’s an interior designer sourcing pieces to be used in a client’s home design or a developer who contacts us to find materials to use in constructing homes or hotels.

to buy architectural salvage: reclaimed European floors – architectural salvage”Reclaimed European floors And as always – we have a slew of antique dealer clients who source architectural salvage in Europe and Asia to stock their own stores for resale.

to buy architectural salvage: sourcing architectural and garden antiques in EnglandGarden antiques and salvage The Antiques Diva & Co has helped clients source entire frescoed ceilings, built-in libraries, Italian roof tiles, floor tiles, reclaimed wood floors, and even staircases. Whether found on tour or through our Buying Services, our Antiques Diva Guides know where to go, who to talk to about restoration, what a fair price is, and how to ship your purchases back home. Depending on the look and style you want to buy, the best countries to buy architectural salvage are England, Belgium, France, Italy, Thailand and Indonesia.

to buy architectural salvage: Architectural Salvaged Doors from Indonesia: Indonesia Antique Buying Tours with The Antiques Diva & Co” width=”800″ height=”533″ /> Salvaged doors from IndonesiaOur English Antiques Diva Buying Agent Gail McLeod believes England is ideal to buy architectural salvage reclaimed materials.

Sussex is a key county – we have key architectural suppliers in both West and East Sussex. Somerset, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and The Cotswolds including Oxfordshire are other key locations. London has some excellent sources for both decorative antiques and architectural materials. We have worked on many projects and are aware of the detailed requirements when sourcing architectural and reclaimed material and objects for a specific project rather than for resale in a showroom. 


Recent projects we have sourced for include a multi £million theme park – the theme was Victorian gothic and we spent 2 weeks on the road discovering ecclesiastical and architectural salvage and garden antiques. This included ancient fragments, stone roof tiles, Gothic paneling, crown top chimney pots by the 100, original stained glass windows 30 feet high and accurate period furniture for the interior of the various buildings and chapels on the park – all this done to a flat plan with specifications. They needed a large number of aged gravestones from decommissioned churches so I made sure our sources had plenty for them to choose from when we arrived!

European doors - architectural salvage
Salvaged European doors

Another large project was the remodeling of the former LA home of a musical superstar, restoring the house to the original Spanish Colonial style for the new owner – quite a niche sector but we found the most fabulous pieces and he was thrilled. Another couple was building a wonderful estate on the Seattle shoreline and has very specific requirements – they are currently on their 2nd tour with us to finalize the artwork.


Marc Allum is one of the BBC Antiques Roadshow experts and is also a historical buildings expert. He lives in an Elizabethan house just outside Bath where they recently found Roman remains when excavating the garden. England is a treasure trove for sourcing architectural salvage and reclaimed materials! 

Read more: Tips for Buying Architectural Salvage 


If you need to shop for architectural salvage and reclaimed pieces but don’t have time to travel, our Antiques Diva Buying Services will work with you to source, purchase and ship pieces that meet your exact requirements.

Toma – The Antiques Diva


Source Antiques Like the Pros: How to Spot Fake Antiques

Sourcing antiques like a pro isn’t simply knowing where to buy antiques: Interior designers, antique dealers, landscape architects and other design professionals not only source antiques in Europe, they also must learn to authenticate the provenance of antiques and spot fakes! Not even experts can always spot a fake: a recent news story about a woodworker who fooled antique experts with a fake American secretary has everyone buzzing! I spoke to a room of design professionals on How to Source Antiques like the Pros with interior designers Robert Passal and Garrow Kedigian at an event at the D&D Building hosted by The Robert Allen Duralee Group. 

(The event was streamed on Facebook LIVE by Aspire magazine, watch here.)

One hot topic the audience asked the panel was, How do I spot fake antiques? 

How do I spot fake antiques?

First and foremost: Spotting fake antiques and reproductions that are being presented as real antiques takes practice – and even the experts can be fooled. One of my favorite stories is that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has the largest collection of fake Rembrandts in the world! They did an exhibit a few years back of all their fake Rembrandts. The reality is they didn’t buy them as fakes: they thought they were buying real Rembrandts but found out later they were not. This just goes to show: Mistakes can happen to anyone.

What I say is buyer, beware. You should always do as much as you can to authenticate a piece, but even the most educated buyer can make a mistake. But my theory is, when you’re buying an antique, it comes down to:

  • Do you love it?
  • Is it a price you’re willing to pay?
  • Are you willing to live with it even if it’s not what you think it is?

Buyer, Beware: How to Avoid Buying Fake Antiques

Some reproductions are over 100 years old, and antiques themselves! If you love it and its perfect for your needs, there’s nothing wrong with buying a reproduction or ‘fake antique’ – as long as you know it’s not an authentic antique and it’s not being misrepresented. One of the biggest trends in ‘fake antiques’ is when vendors use antique materials to create newly made pieces. An important question to ask is, “Is this a period piece? Or a style piece?” Unfortunately, there are dealers who will deliberately mislead a buyer. Here are some steps you can take to avoid buying fake antiques:

  1. Educate Yourself
    Do your research before you shop and become familiar with the style of antiques you are shopping for.
  2. Ask
    Ask the dealer if the piece is a genuine antique, inquire about its provenance.
  3. Buy From Reputable Dealers
    Most antique dealers love their business and are proud of their stock and reputation. They like talking about their inventory, and telling you how they acquired a piece and sharing their expertise.
  4. Inspect
    Take a close look at any piece you are interested in buying. Do the joints look authentic? Are there signs of modern manufacturing methods? Are the selections – or the prices – too good to be true?
  5. Consult an Expert
    At The Antiques Diva®, our job is to connect you to the right experts who have what you’re looking to buy.

Interior designer Robert Passal pointed out that with experience, you can usually tell an authentic antique from a fake. He added that sometimes reproductions aren’t so bad! Design expert Garrow Kedigian agreed that sometimes reproductions a good purchase: you have to understand decorative art versus antiques. It’s all about the style – sometimes a piece is perfect, even if it’s not an antique.

Book A Tour with The Antiques Diva & CoBOOK AN ANTIQUES BUYING TOUR TODAY

We’d love to take you on an antiques buying tour, and introduce you to our expert dealers and secret sources!

Toma – The Antiques Diva 


Why Now is the Best Time to Buy Antiques in England: Bath Decorative Antiques Fair

Early in February, I spoke at New York City’s D&D Building and I was asked by a room full of interior design professionals, “Where is the trend heading for European now?” My response: If you’re only going to shop one place, for one-stop shopping the best place to buy antiques is England! In January I was in London twice – first for the London Art, Antiques and Interiors Fair, and then again later in the month for meetings to plan upcoming special events. 

England has become a far more affordable travel destination for Americans in recent years due to some negative news: Brexit led to an economic downturn. Here’s another tip: According to USAToday, ‘Airbnb is thriving in London with an average rental rate of $115 per night, and sister-site TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals are in no short supply.’ 

One of the best examples of “one-stop shopping in England” is the 29th Bath Decorative Antiques Fair in March. 

Today is the Best Time to Buy Antiques in the UK

I was on a panel with interior designers Robert Passal and Garrow Kedigian on How to Source Antiques like the Pros at the D&D Building and hosted by Duralee: the event was streamed on Facebook LIVE by Aspire magazine, watch here

WATCH: Toma Clark Haines: How to Source Antiques Like the Pros 

Brexit has had an impact on buying antiques in the UK. In short, England has gone on sale for American buyers! Now is the best time to buy antiques in England.

If you’re only going to shop one place, I would say shop in England. England is one-stop shopping. The best of France is already there. For hundreds of years, the Brits have been scouring the world collecting antiques

Antiques Diva buying agent Gail McLeodGail McLeod is our English Antiques Diva Buying Agent and she might just be the most connected woman in the world of antiques. She also is owner of Google’s top-ranked antiques fair website Antiques News & Fairs and is Editor in Chief of the Antiques are Green website and vice chair of the new Antiques are Green Trade Association. She is co-founder of Antiques Young Guns. Her career in the antiques trade began as manager of Pennard House Antiques in Bath – the UK’s largest export trade collective for decorative antiques in the fabled days of frantic business.

Here in England we are blessed with a complete melting pot of inventory which has arrived on our shores from the Colonies and there has never been an occasion when I have been stumped by a request from a Diva client! Spanish Colonial period pieces for a Hollywood mansion? Step this way! A collection of gravestones and a church spire for a luxury theme park? No problem! 

The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair is still the leading regional event to beat, where rustic to refined ultra-relevant stylish English Country House style, Mid Century design, industrial chic, Swedish period painted furniture, period portraits and perennially fashionable crusty iron garden furniture will rub shoulders with decorative staples of the 80s and 90s. 

Not Wanted on Voyage – quartet of industrial lanterns Now back in demand by a new and younger audience – French marble top chocolatiers’ tables, elaborate brass and steel bakers’ racks, buffets and armoires in fruitwood, huge pine refectory tables and Windsor chairs, rows of yellow confit pots, pub signs, marine and advertising ephemera, homely Staffordshire dogs, samplers and quilts and yes, large-scale oak, mahogany and walnut brown furniture re-imagined by a new generation of decorators and collectors.

The event has remained at the same wonky Bath Pavilion since the launch back in 1989 and quickly fills up with eager exhibitors each year, keen to secure a place at what is reliably expected to be a busy event teeming with buyers from the UK, EU and USA happy to queue up for hours in all weathers before the doors open at 12 midday.

Country Oak Furniture – group of primitive chairs The 29th Bath Decorative Antiques Fair 

  • Date:
    9-11 March 2018
    TRADE ONLY 8 March
  • Venue:
    The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU
  • Opening Times:
    TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 8 March: 12noon – 5pm
    Admission with Trade Invite or Trade Business Card. Otherwise £10.00.
    PUBLIC: Friday 9 March 10am – 5pm
    Saturday 10 March 10am – 5pm
    Sunday 11 March 10am – 4pm
  • Admission:
    Free Tickets


Toma, The Antiques Diva