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Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen
Carrying a simple keychain size black light on your next antique hunt could prove to be a valuable tool. Most people know that certain older glass will glow under the black light but it can also reveal many other authenticating tricks used by the antique appraisal experts including age, imperfections or damage.
The magic of the black light is that it will cause certain properties to fluoresce in a chemical reaction when put under the ultraviolet light. By targeting the light at a certain spot on an item the intensity is increased resulting in a high saturation of colors making things visible that were not before. This beam of ultraviolet light when directed for example at art work can reveal proof of restoration or repairs that may have taken place over time as the chemistry of modern paint will glow on the canvass, and would then greatly affect the value of the item.
In art glass, porcelain and pottery on detailed inspection in a dark room the black light beam will reveal cracks and chips that may not have been visible under the naked eye in the daylight. The green glassware of the depression era as well as Vaseline glass made with uranium oxide will seem to glow under the black light where as the whiter old glass will appear a yellowish tone with the results on old glass glowing at a different intensity to modern reproduction glass which does not glow or has a faint whitish blue tinge. The finish on the older porcelain will not glow but its modern reproductions will chemically react and light up under the black light as will the newer glues in any glass repair.
In the area of ephemera collecting the use of chemical and dyes in the modern papers will create a glow under the light whereas most old paper up to the 1930’s era will not light up making it an easy test for the vast number of reproductions in the paper collecting world. Old postcards and photographs will not reflect off the light but new ones will shine.
Fibres and textiles will also react under the beam of the black light although this area is less revealing to the appraiser. A vintage fabric may not glow like a modern chemical laced fabric but washing it in modern detergents can leave traces of glowing chemicals when placed under the light bringing inconclusive results of authenticity of age.
Original old cast iron does not glow but its modern counterpart and the new paints will react under the light as will new repairs on an old cast weld. The old tin toys of the turn of the century were made of cast but the tell tale sign will be when the modern paint in the reproduction glows.
         So pocket yourself a black light and take it with you on your next adventure remembering that it can be revealing but is also only one of many tools of knowledge you will acquire over time as you grow passionate about collecting.


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Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen


Many antique appraisers are dedicated to a particular area of collecting as the vast knowledge and expertise to be a professional antique appraiser involves constant learning. Picking up some of their tips of appraisal will be a useful skill to value your antique finds like a pro.
Antique evaluation is not about memorizing book values of specific items. There is not a single global source for such information nor could there be. An item at auction in New York will not bring the same value in an antique store in Montana or at a tag sale in Vermont. The same analogy is true worldwide with values in Paris differing from those in Canada or Japan. Creating common ground with value and determining what the market will reasonably bear in any given economy are keys to appraisal.
One of the first things to determine is if the item has any maker markings possibly found in numerous places and an appraiser’s background will bring them experience in knowing where and what to be looking for. Jewellery, furniture, toys and silver are examples of collectibles marked in totally different methods. Knowing your area of interest will help you in discovering what to look for in maker marks as a missing or misread mark could be the difference of great dollars in evaluation.
The first thing in self-appraisal like a pro is to determine authenticity. Knowledge in your area of collecting will bring a familiarity to what you are looking for. Normal signs of aging, patinas, natural discolouration of metals over time and authentic markings in the correct place are key observations. If anything looks suspect then chances are high in this age of fakery that the item is a remake and further scrutiny is necessary.
To assess the condition of an antique an appraiser will consider a certain amount of wear and tear given the age, but will closely inspect all surfaces top and bottom, front and back, for signs of restoration works, repairs, refinishing, replacement parts and any serious damage. The more original and complete the item has remained over time often the greater the value.
Older does not necessarily mean higher value as the rarity will be a large part of evaluation. More common items originally produced in higher quantities will bring less value and again knowing how many or how few of a particular item are on the open market will be a consideration in the appraisal.
Repair or restoration in some items may increase a value if done professionally but in other areas of collecting it could greatly decrease the value. Knowing what if any restoration to increase value is a good thing will come with time and experience. An item with visible damage but repairable can often still bring a strong value.
Appraisers have many tools, some of which can be brought along in your pocket such as a black light used to test for age and repair in such items as glassware, porcelain, some metals, paints, ephemera and textiles as chemical laden more modern materials will react and glow in the light. A pocket stone tester can be used to determine carat weight and quality when jewellery collecting and a loupe eye magnifying glass will help when searching for marks or small print.
Take your time when considering an investment in antiques, gather as much information as the item will give you and then go back and research in order to make an informed purchase decision. With good pre-knowledge and experience in your area of collecting, a few pocket tools and a keen eye you can set out antique hunting armed with many of the skills of a professional appraiser.

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