Redneck 401K

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Things made today, for the most part, are not meant to last a lifetime, especially products made from plastic. However, if you look at items made 40 to 50 years ago, they are still around today and, most of the time, in working condition.

I am 23-years-old and find antiques fascinating. One of my favorite hobbies is looking around flea markets and antique malls on the weekends, just for the thrill of the hunt. I buy antiques and call it my “redneck 401K,” investing lots of money for my future and current pleasure.

Antiquing is all about the journey. You never know what you are going to find, but when you do find that one piece, it’s a majestic experience, at least for me. However, there are people out there that try to fake antiques to make a quick dollar.

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Here are some simple tips to identify a reproduction. First of all, items like signs, toys, and many others made in the early 1900’s and prior were made of metal. Years ago, most of everything in the United States was made by the people in the United States, so if you find something that looks old, but is made in China, it is most likely a reproduction.

However, production of toys in Japan began in the mid 1900’s and they can bring a pretty dollar today, but be aware of what you are buying.

Second, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. For example, the lining of wood planks on a old piece of furniture will most likely not line up perfectly and chrome on an old car or motorcycle that has not been restored should show rust instead of being so shiny that it blinds you.

Also, what most people seem to miss is the wear of an item. If you are looking at an old chest for example, check for wear from being opened and closed thousands of times. As for an antique handgun, look for wear on only one side. If there is, that probably means it was kept in a leather holster, dating the piece and showing its authenticity.

Finally, there is a way to tell whether an antique has been refinished. If it is refinished or restored, the value of the antique drops dramatically. A quick and easy way to tell if an item is refinished is to turn the piece upside down and look for telltale drips and runs of paint or vanish down the side. Avoid these items, unless offered at a reasonable price.

I believe more people my age should learn about history. The study of the past and how we got to where we are today is almost poetic and should be known by everyone.

Do not be afraid to purchase antiques because if they have lasted over 100 years, they probably have many more good years in them. With value of antiques going through the roof, they make a great investment for the future.