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Caring For Antiques in Your Home

Antiques require different care than the rest of your belongings. Learn how to protect the value of your collectibles by keeping them in great condition.

*Guest post written by Jennifer Owen

When a US Air Force veteran bought a 1971 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Oyster back in 1974 for $345, he had no idea that he was making one of the best decisions of his life. Fast forward 46 years to 2020 on an episode of the hit television show “Antiques Roadshow,” and the man got the shock of his life after learning that the watch is currently worth between $500,000 and $700,000. In your homestead, you probably have a few items that you’ve owned for decades or you inherited from family members, especially if your home has been in your family for generations. Unknown to you, some of those items could be worth hundreds of times what you think they’re worth. But, just because something is a few decades old doesn’t automatically mean that it’s worth thousands of dollars. It needs to be in great condition, which is why it’s important to follow the proper care and maintenance practices for all your antiques.

Storing your antiques

You must be careful when choosing where to keep your antiques, whether you want to have them on display or in storage. If you’re displaying your antiques, choose a safe spot where they’ll never be exposed to the sun’s UV rays that may cause discoloration and away from any heat sources in your home such as the air conditioning vents, stove, or fireplace. Any fragile antiques should be placed on stable surfaces, especially if you have young kids or curious pets. If you prefer to store your antiques, make sure that the storage area is humidity and temperature controlled to maintain their integrity.

Cleaning your antiques

Your antiques are bound to pick up some dirt, especially when you have them on display. To maintain the value of your antiques and keep them looking as good as new for many decades to come, you’ll want to clean them regularly to get rid of the dirt. But, keep in mind that the cleaning techniques, materials, and frequency will depend on the specific type of antique. For instance, an antique rug will require vacuuming at least once per week to remove loose dirt and a more thorough cleaning twice per year by a professional cleaning company.

Antique metals such as copper or brass can be wiped over with a damp cloth to restore their shine. Wooden furniture will require regular dusting as well as waxing to remove any marks, stains, and fingerprints. When cleaning your antiques, pay close attention to the materials you use for each piece. Stay away from chemical-based cleaners that may cause irreversible damage and instead use safer cleaning alternatives such as baking soda for removing carpet stains or beeswax for polishing wooden furniture.

Moving your antiques

You must be extremely careful when moving your antiques, whether the distance is just a few yards or hundreds of miles. If you are moving the antiques to a new position in your home, you can probably do it by yourself or with the help of friends or family members. But when the item you’re moving is too heavy, such as an old grand piano, it’s a good idea to hire a professional mover who knows how to get the job done without incident. The same applies when you are moving house; it’s best to hire an antique transportation company that will properly pack and move your antiques without causing damage.

With the right care, your antiques can survive for many decades or even centuries to come without any changes in quality or appearance. You never know; you may end up selling them for thousands of times what they’re worth now in a few years and even if you don’t sell, you’ll have something of value to leave for your descendants.

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