Follow up question
#career I’m interested in learning about what A Day in the Life is like for an Antiques Dealer. So far I have learned that those people have to know a lot of history, but I would also like to know how do the people learn about the quality/shape of the items they're selling or trading?
Research - No one person can be an expert in all areas so being able to quickly and effectively use research tools will be critical. The internet provides an incredible tool for quick research but not all data can be relied upon - so being able to discern between sources is important.
Networking - Establishing a network of experts can be critical to your long term success in this area. Having an expert you can ask is a invaluable resource. Identifying people who are passionate about antiques and history will give you access to a depth of knowledge that is unlikely to be easily found in traditional sources.
Sales - An item is truly only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Having an understanding of economics, negotiation, and sales acumen will help you on the business side of the antiques world.
Best of luck in your research!
It's so cool that you're interested in antiques! My grandparents (and other family to some extent) were antique dealers for decades, so I can share a little of what I know about this.
Firstly, I'm not entirely certain about the question in the description about how people learn qualities/shapes of things they sell. Are you referring to authenticating items? Distinguishing them apart from other kinds? If you give me a little more detail, I can provide you more info.
Secondly, it's important to consider that antique dealing can be done as an individual OR as a career, but as a career you will likely only be one link in the chain of people who find, authenticate, purchase, list, and sell the item. For example, there are different types of jobs working for auction houses - ultimately somebody owns the business, but unless that's you, you may not be the person allowed to make the decisions about what you're selling or how you go about doing that. Just something to consider.
For perspective, my grandparents both worked other jobs before they began antiquing. They had very little money (antiques are expensive!) when they started their family. My grandfather completed his PhD and got a good job to support the family, and my grandmother was a hairdresser part-time to contribute as well. This is how they slowly saved enough money to start buying/dealing antiques. Believe it or not, their first antique was their actual HOUSE! They renovated a colonial brownstone to be accurate to the period and it turned out beautifully & their lifelong home - but as I said, they began with not a lot of money so this took YEARS of hard work, and lots of labor by their own hands. Eventually, they became fairly wealthy and a real American success story. I just wanted to share this with you so that if you were hoping to be an INDIVIDUAL dealing antiques that you prepare another way to support yourself before you can get your feet off the ground.
I agree with the other answers that history is something super important to know - but keep in mind that most antique dealers are SUPER specialized. Meaning, each person is an expert in one (or a few) very small areas of antiques, and that is primarily what they buy/sell. My grandparents were experts in the history of their local region (Lancaster County/Pennsylvania Amish country) and in a few specific types of items (pottery, textiles, wood furniture, German-American heritage, etc.). People will probably want your skills in order to authenticate or identify certain antiques, and in order to be reliable in doing that, you will need to focus on a few small areas. Othewise, you will be very overwhelmed trying to memorize anything about everything! Also consider that just because something is OLD or RARE does not mean it is worth money!! There is a lot of nuance to giving things a value, and specializing in something allows you to make smart buying and selling decisions so that you don't have to take a lot of risks.
See the next steps below - although I don't deal antiques, I have various collections that I have built up over time (like my 700 record albums, which I started collecting at age 11!) so some of these insights are from my experience as well. Wishing you the best in your future! You're interested in something that could take you a lot of places!
Alexandra recommends the following next steps:
Have you considered in talking to an antique dealer that lives in your vicinity to get better insight?