September 27, 2005


I guess my initial interest in antiques came from my mother.Our New York City penthouse was filled with all these treasures that my mother would bring home and ask me not to touch because it was so old...oddly enough she later said the same thing about this attorney I used to date.I remember just staring at some of the pieces of furniture and the bowls and gorgeous jewelery she used to buy.Each with their own history and story of where they came from.
When I got older and started to go out "antiquing"(yes,it's a verb now) with my mother,for some reason I was drawn to the mirrors(not just because I liked my refelction) but the craftsmanship and artistic design of some of these french,italian,russian mirrors and hand mirrors were stunning.I own about 15 antique full length and hand mirrors.One of my favorite ones sits on the vanity in my bedroom,I got it at an auction in Europe.It's a hand mirror that belonged to a mistress of a king that fled the palace when the queen found out.She spent the rest of her life hiding in a french monestary.It dates back to the 18th century.
I just feel fabulous to have ownership of a piece of history like that.I'm sure that a lot readers would like to also get involved in the world of antiques..(some of you are sitting on treasures in your own home and don't even know it).Her's some tips for buying antiques of your own:

First of all, the most important factor for what makes a piece of furniture qualify as an antique is time. A true antique is at least 100 years old. Going forward in time to around the turn of the century, there are what's known as "the near antiques" (75 to 99 years old) as they'll be true antiques shortly. Then there are items that are known as vintage (25 to 74 years old), which are from the 40s, 50s and into the 60s.

There are elements to look for when shopping for an antique and the most important is whether you like it. Then, take a look at the overall condition of the piece (does it move, is it solid, etc.).

Where do we go to find good antiques at a good price? Look in the attics and basements of friends and family, try yard sales and visit house auctions.

Changing or refinishing a piece of furniture can detract from the value if you're looking at museum-quality pieces. When you're looking to bring warmth to your home and personalize a space, the value really lies in what it brings to you.

Finally, if you find an antique piece that you really love but can't use it for its intended purpose, think of other ways to use it. For example, a china cabinet that won't work in a dining room is great for storing linens in a bathroom.

Here are some cleaning tips for old pieces:
Refresh old bottles that are cloudy from minerals or chemicals by pouring water in and add some denture-cleaning tablets to do the dirty work. For really tough stains, use water and swirl a pinch of sand around gently. Be sure to rinse everything thoroughly with either method.

Rub dull brass with a soft cloth and polish made with a little salt, flour and cider vinegar. Once dry, rinse thoroughly with hot water and polish it with a clean cloth.

For sparkling glasses, wash each piece carefully in warm, soapy water. Then add a touch of vinegar to the rinse water.

To keep a wooden piece looking good, try these solutions:
Loosen a tight screw by dabbing some peroxide on it.

To tighten a loose screw, wrap a tiny bit of steel wool around the end of it, and then drive it back in.

Rub soap over the rails of a drawer that sticks so it slides in place easily.

Good luck and have fun.Remember,don't just buy something for it's value(although there's nothing wrong with that) pick a piece that you really like,that makes a statement and fits your personal style.

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