Since I started buying and selling antiques, I've had numerous mishaps and made plenty of mistakes. I thought I'd help save you some trouble (and money) by sharing a few with you. Whether you are interested in vintage ware for a collection, for decorating your home, or for re-selling, I think you can take away a little something from this post.
Periodically, my basement gets a little water in it, especially when we get a lot of rain. How many times must learn the same lesson: Don't pick up a box of glass ware if the box has a wet bottom? Or better yet, why not store basement items off the floor?
Photo Credit: Bruening Glassworks
Never hoist a vintage ceramic pitcher by the handle, especially if it is filled with water. Actually, I've never broken anything (yet) by doing this, but I made an antique dealer cringe once when I grabbed a pitcher from her booth, and I've been careful ever since. Old ceramics and stoneware can be fragile due to age and hairline cracks and you don't want the handle to snap off in your hand.
On a similar note, don't pick up an old trunk by the leather straps. Old leather will often crumble in your hands. Get a helper and pick it up like it's a heavy box. You can see the trunk below has handles that are ready to disintegrate:
When I'm at an auction and see a charming old toy, like this Katy Cackler, I sometimes forget to inspect it thoroughly and will bid on it because of the "awwww" factor. After Katy was in my lap, I realized she was missing her rear wheels. This isn't the end of the world, because replacement wheels can easily be found on eBay. But it will add an additional expense to my purchase.
A couple years ago I thought it would be cute to send out vintage Christmas cards that I had found at estate sales. Much to my dismay, after Christmas most of them were returned to me by the US Postal Service because they were under the regulation size for mailing.
I left this painting in my garage all winter, leaning against a wall, touching the damp floor. Look what happened to the delicate gesso frame. The moisture loosened it, causing it to fall off in chunks. Now I have to try to glue it back together like a really challening, tedious puzzle.
Cast iron furniture, like the little stool below, is made for outdoor use but that doesn't mean it's unbreakable. Case in point: I had a cast iron garden bench that froze in a puddle of water one winter. In order to move it, I tried kicking at the frozen leg to dislodge it. It snapped off like an icicle. Cast iron will break like this when dropped or otherwise abused. I was able to have the leg welded back on by a local welding company, Bannash Welding in Lansing. They did a great job, (but it wasn't free).
I'm sure I've made more mistakes, but that's all I'm willing to divulge, for now! Are you willing to share a mistake of your own? Please leave a comment so that we can all benefit from it!