[This information comes from the British Antique Dealers' Association website with their permission. You may read the entire unedited information on their website by clicking here.]
In reality, such lucky finds are rare and when they do occur they happen to those who have enough expertise to back their hunch with sound experience. For the rest of the world, buying a serious, valuable antique, whether it be a Regency dining table, 18th-century Dutch flower painting or an ironstone dinner service, involves considerable financial outlay. So, what steps does the enthusiastic but inexperienced beginner take to thread their way through the thorny thicket of the antiques market and emerge unscathed and unfleeced at the other side?
Firstly, a couple of obvious, practical points. Decide on a cash limit and do not exceed it or you may end up repenting your spur of the moment extravagance. Try to stick broadly to your original intentions and do not get waylaid down tempting blind alleys. If, for example, you set out to buy a dining table, it is no good coming back with a card table. However prettily inlaid it might be, you will never fit all the plates on it at dinner parties.
Be prepared to search around
In feeding such considerations, the first thing you should then do is take a good look around at what is on offer in your chosen field. Seek out those shops whose stock conforms to your general taste (not all of them will). Try locally first, but if your area is thinly supplied go further afield, taking careful note of the descriptions and comparing prices.