Antique dealers buy and sell old objects and collectors' items. If you are passionate about historical items, and like the idea of buying and selling, this could be the perfect job for you. To become a dealer, you will need to have a passionate interest in the items you deal in. Dealers often specialize in one particular area. You will need to research, study and learn from others. You will need to be a good negotiator. Most importantly you’ll need good judgement, excellent sales skills and the ability to spot salable items. You don't need any particular qualifications to do this job, though you can take courses to improve your knowledge of the art and antiques markets.
Your work could include:
• buying items from salesroom, auctions, markets, trade fairs and private owners
• selling items to the general public from shops or from stalls in antique centers
• negotiating purchases and sales
• buying and selling items online
• carrying out minor restoration work
• researching the identity and value of objects
• advising owners on the value of their antiques for insurance or sales purposes.
Most dealers are self-employed, working in shops, at antiques markets and fairs, or from home. Some work part-time and a few combine antiques dealing with restoration work. Many antiques dealerships are small independent businesses, either family-run or only employing one or two staff. As few vacancies are advertised, it may be best to contact shops, sales rooms and other relevant organizations directly.
Your success will depend on expanding your business by increasing sales and profits. You could progress to specialist dealer, valuer or auctioneer.
You may find the following links useful for further reading:
• Antiques Trade Gazette
• London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association
You do not need any particular qualifications to be an antique dealer. A good knowledge of antiques and the market will be needed. Your sales skills, ability to spot salable items, and funds for starting up are more important than formal qualifications.
You could start in this career in any of the following ways:
• working in an antiques shop as an assistant or general worker
• working in a salesroom or an auction house as a porter, clerk, cataloger, valuer or auctioneer
• collecting and researching antiques as a hobby then taking a stall at antiques markets or fairs, buying and selling on the internet, or opening a shop.
You could combine any of these options with part-time or short residential courses in arts subjects like antiques, history of art, fine art or decorative arts.
You can add to your skills and knowledge through any of the following:
• practical experience
• extensive self-study and research
• attendance at fairs
• a degree or postgraduate course
• training schemes provided by major auction houses
• privately run courses.
As most antique dealers are self-employed, income can vary hugely depending on level of expertise and location.