Hemswell Antique Centres

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Where to find the best antiques for sale in 2023

Where to find the best antiques for sale in 2018

The internet is a great tool for finding antiques for sale, but it has a catch - everyone else has easy access to it as well. To find true sleepers (unrecognised gems) without spending a small fortune, you have to cast your net further and wider.

Luckily, Britain boasts all kinds of places to spot unique items. From bric a brac shelves to antique centres, UK collectors can return home victorious if they know where to look. It’s twice as thrilling finding antiques for sale when you’re out and about hunting them down in person.

Whether you’re hoping to unearth a one-off piece with a bargain price tag or go home with an heirloom, we’ve rounded up the best auctions, centres and antique shops UK collectors have right on their doorsteps.

  1. Antiques for sale at auctions

    There are two types of auctions: general auctions and specialist auctions. Don’t be intimidated by the latter - this is where you can find some of the very best antiques for sale. Each piece is identified, dated and set a pre-sale estimate - but always be sure to inspect the sale thoroughly. Visit a general auction house and you’ll find a far-flung range of often quirky and unique pieces. Get up to scratch on bidding terminology beforehand and you could exit the building armed with a complete steal.
  2. Antiques for sale in centres

    Hunting quality finds takes time, so exploring a range of dealers’ antiques for sale in one place can be the perfect option for busy collectors. Many antique centres - UK based ones - are a day out in themselves. The largest in Europe for antiques, Hemswell Antiques Centre, is a sprawling treasure trove and hosts a wide range of dealers under one roof. Expect four buildings, two coffee shops, and thousands of collectables and antiques for sale at very reasonable prices. You can be confident in the quality of dealer items in centres, but being able to properly evaluate these in person, rather than just a listing online, gives extra reassurance.
  3. Antiques for sale at fairs

    Half the fun of shopping for antiques is coming across something you weren’t expecting. There’s plenty of that around Britain’s antique fairs - choose from thousands of dealers who drive up and down the country throughout the year, flogging everything from Art Deco rarities to centuries-old clocks. Do your research before you attend - it helps to have an idea of what you want in advance, so you can scope out dealers with specific antiques for sale directly. Whatever you do, try to avoid the ticket price. Keep things light-hearted and friendly, asking the dealer “what’s your best price” - most of the time you’ll nab a ten per cent reduction.
  4. Antiques for sale at jumble sales

    Keep an eye out on local announcement boards and you’ll find churches, charity organisations or even the local Scouts sharing details of the latest jumble sale event. Usually held at community centres or churches, these are mainly crammed with low-cost throw-outs or vintage clothing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some antiques for sale - paintings, prints and collectables are usually dotted among the table-tops at cheap prices. The real joy of jumble sales is never really knowing what what you’re going to find.
  5. Antiques for sale at car boot sales 

    If you’re prepared to search through unwanted trinkets, toys and tat, you can uncover some serious sleepers at car boot sales. Sellers are amateurs and bargains are abundant, so take hard case and barter hard. A diamond ring bought at a car boot sale for just £10 was sold at the astonishing price of £656,750 in 2017. There are countless car boot sales in the UK where you might just uncover some undiscovered antiques for sale - Car Boot Junction is a handy site to find events in your local area.
  6. Antiques for sale at charity shops

    Make a beeline for the bric-a-brac shelf at your local charity shop and you can turn over everything from Wedgwood pottery to Chinese snuff bottles among the sallow figurines and mismatched crockery. Often, the worst areas to find antiques for sale in charity shops are the ritzier parts of town - which have wised up to vintage lovers and now jazz up the window displays or bring local antique dealers in to vet items first. Head to retirement zones and run-down areas instead for the real steals.
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