Antiques Dealers are Your Ally!

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Here lately I’ve been doing a lot of public speaking about antiquing in Europe and one of the questions I am frequently asked is what are the basic rules you would teach a novice antiques buyer? My biggest bit of advice? When buying antiques a reputable antiques dealer can be your best friend and biggest ally.

Never be afraid to ask a question – the best thing you can do is engage an antiques dealer in a relationship.  Ask them questions – How old is it? What is it made of?  Where was it made?  What was it used for?  Where does it come from?  Where did they buy it?

Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market
Diva Guide Danielle and clients in discussion with vendor

Antique Dealers are a unique breed – most of whom chose their profession because it’s their passion. They love to talk about their passion with a willing audience. If you’re a willing audience they would love to share with you their knowledge.   Ask a question and let them educate you. Let them be your teachers.

Don’t be afraid that by asking questions you’ll be taken advantage of – or reveal your ignorance.  By asking questions you form a relationship with the vendor.   I must confess in the rare times when I feel a vendor is trying to swindle me – I will ask them about items I know about and see if they are telling the truth.

Antiques Diva Italy Tours, Buying Antiques in Europe
Diva Guide Susan and clients in discussion with vendor

What I’ve found when the vendor sees you love the item as much as they do – they want their inventory to go to a good home.  Prove yourself worthy of the purchase and you’re likely to get a better price!

In America clients often say they feel they have to point out what’s wrong with a piece to get a discount. In Europe that strategy doesn’t work.  Remember Europeans don’t tend to be capitalist and so if you point out everything wrong with a piece the vendor might just say “obviously you weren’t meant to own the piece!” 

Flea Market Finds

When buying antiques the best advice I can give is to  make a  human connection.   As my grandma always said, “You can catch more flies with honey…”

The Antiques Diva®


Say Cheese!! Camembert Label Collecting

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>At French flea markets you see a variety of collectibles you never knew were collectible! You find old (and by old I mean really old) mustard pots, tin boxes and yogurt jars. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – especially if the trash is a few hundred years old! One perfectly-packable collectible I adore is Camembert Labels – those bright round labels found on boxes of pungent cheese from Normandy. So popular is label collecting that there is even a name for the people who do it – tyrosemiophiles!

Over the years I’ve bought my fair share of camembert and being the Frugal Diva that I am, I’ve saved the boxes (cleaned by filling with baking soda to remove the “smelly cheese” smell). I use these boxes as organizers, holding tacks, clips and other accessories that get lost in cavernous drawers. It seems so charmingly French that camembert comes in “wooden boxes” rather than cardboard containers. But in fact this tradition was started in the 19th C for exporting the cheese to America! The wood provided the perfect humidity for transport but as technology passed by the tradition lingered!

Popular scenes on labels include everything from luscious milk maidens to man’s first walk on the moon! Prices for labels run less than a euro each ($1.40) but move upwards the rarer the scene depicted is. Occasionally artisans will turn camembert boxes into small wall clocks – selling these for $10-15 each. Of course, you can make them yourself by picking up a clock kit at your local hobby store.


The Antiques Diva™

(seen at right with the famous Gouda cheese of her second home, Holland)