eBay Guides - Antiques Buying Guide
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Antiques Buying Guide

Antique collecting can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you're searching for antique furniture, an heirloom quilt, or vintage bottle caps, eBay Canada is sure to have the greatest selection available.

Discover Antiques

Discover Antiques

You can find every kind of antique on eBay, from antique salt and pepper shakers to antique gate leg tables. The following provides just a small sampling of the myriad of antiques that can be found on eBay.

Antique furniture

Whether you're looking for antique beds, bookcases, cabinets, armoires, cupboards, chairs, desks, dining sets, dressers, vanities, sofas, chaises, or other antique furniture, you'll find just about every style of antique furniture on eBay.

Period furniture, as opposed to reproductions, were made in the time period when that particular style was new and popular. After furniture manufacturing technology became prevalent, revivals such as Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival were created, which has led to the prevalence of antique reproductions.

Each period of history has a corresponding style of furniture that was produced during that time. Here’s a list of some of the well-known styles.

American furniture styles include:

French furniture styles include:

English furniture styles include:

Antique silver

You may want to organize your antique silver collection by time period, style, or maker. Or, you may want to collect a certain kind of piece, such as antique silver-plated serving forks. Notice the hallmark, or stamp, which often indicates the standard of silver, origin, and other valuable information.

There are two major categories of antique silverware:

  • Antique flatware: Antique flatware includes utensils such as knives, forks, and spoons.    

  • Antique hollowware: Antique hollowware includes vessels like bowls, tea services, trays, and vases.

Sterling silver is the highest-quality silver, but silver plate is affordable and retains all of the beauty of sterling. American silver that is slightly lower in value than sterling is often referred to as coin silver.

American silversmiths include Paul Revere, Myer Myers, Gorham & Company, and The International Silver Company. European silversmiths include The Bateman Family, Paul Storr, Puifocat, and Froment-Meurice.

Antique rugs

Many antique rugs are handmade and are truly folk art. Rugs can have a flat surface, like on a tapestry or a pile surface. Anything smaller than 9 x 6 feet is a rug, while anything larger is a carpet. Runners refer to long, narrow carpets. Antique rugs refer to rugs more than 50 years old.

Oriental rugs are of Chinese or Persian origin. Persian rugs include prayer rugs, urban-made rugs, village rugs, and nomadic rugs. Other rugs include those of American Indian origin, and folk rugs.

Antique ceramics and porcelain

Porcelain is also known as china, so named for the country of its origin. Chinese porcelain was originally exported to the U.S. in large quantities, with patterns of rose medallions, honeycombs, and butterflies. English china was also widely exported, by makers such as Spode and Royal Dalton. Blue and white is a popular colour scheme for dinnerware and other porcelain; well-known examples are Meissen’s Blue Onion and Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted Lace.

Antique pottery

The mineral content in clay gives antique pottery its basic colour. Some varieties of antique pottery include redware, yellowware, and stoneware. American Art Pottery was created in large quantities during the mid-19th century and is now widely collected.

Antique clocks

There are many varieties of antique clocks, including tall case clocks (or grandfather clocks), carriage clocks, mantle clocks, wall clocks, and pocket watches. The case design of clocks generally follows the style of furniture of the period. Clocks that are elaborately designed are usually more highly valued.

Antique metalware

Antique metalwork or metalware comes in many forms, from magnificent bronze sculptures to humble pewter utensils. Metals commonly found include bronze, iron, copper, brass, and pewter. Much of the metalware being sold today is in the form of folk art.

Asian antiques

This category includes antique furniture, carvings, statues, porcelain, and art; these antiques originate from areas like China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Antique Buddha figures are quite common and are made of varied materials like bronze and wood. Also, look into highly detailed antique jade statues or pairs of matching antique cloisonné vases.

Other popular antiques

Other popular antiques categories on eBay include: antiquities, architectural & garden, books, manuscripts, decorative arts, ethnographic, maps, atlases, globes, maritime, musical instruments, primitives, science & medicine, and textiles, linens.

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Evaluate and Select Antiques

Evaluate and Select Antiques

Whether you collect antiques as a hobby, investment, or way of life, it pays to do your research.

Reference guides and resources

Antique guides are available on almost every topic and will help you identify key markings for specific items. Porcelain marks and silver hallmarks, for example, can help you decipher symbols on a piece, revealing information about the origin and maker of an item. Use the library to do research and check out references. Online guides can be helpful as well. Become friends with the owner of a local antiques shop. They are often a wealth of information and happy to help.

Identify antiques

Look for hand-embellished designs and materials not commonly used in modern manufacturing. If you’re searching for antique furniture, note the following:

  • Sharp corners and edges can mean the furniture was made more recently. The back and edges of a piece of furniture should be slightly uneven, smooth, and soft.    

  • Circular saw marks are a sign the furniture was made after 1840. Note if there are any smooth edges, produced by a power saw.

  • Wood veneers on antique furniture will be thicker and more substantial than the veneers found on modern pieces. 

  • Normal wear is expected in areas such as the tops of chair rails or table legs. 

  • Handmade dovetails are large and uneven, while machine-made dovetails are even.

If you’re searching for antique silver:

  • Most American sterling silver on the market is post-1860. It is marked “sterling.” Earlier pieces usually bore the maker’s name or initials, but they are rarely found.    

  • Silver manufactured before industrialization shows signs of being hand-hammered.    

  • If the stamp reads EPNS, it is not real silver but metal with a silvery coating.    

  • The date on a piece may not be the date it was made.     

  • If initials are engraved in a piece, they can provide clues as to the date and origin. For example, the style of the lettering might give a hint as to the time period.

If you’re searching for antique pottery:

  • Marks are stamped, painted, or incised on the bottom or the back of a piece. The mark will often give you information of the date and country of manufacture.

  • Some pottery, made before the advent of marking, or during the 19th and 20th century, is unmarked.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have an item appraised and, if you have questions that aren’t answered in the item listing, ask the seller.

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Find Antiques on eBay

Find Antiques on eBay

Once you know what type of antique you want, go to the Antiques portal and start searching for item listings on eBay.

Browse categories

The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for Decorative Arts, Asian Antiques, furniture, and more. As you dig deeper into the site, you'll also be able to narrow down your choice by brand.

Use keywords

Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find a Spode vase, type "Spode vase" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

When searching, make sure to include common search terms like “vintage” and “antique.” Search by time period (such as 17th century) or by country of origin.

When searching for furniture, search for both the style and the type of furniture, for example: “Queen Anne Chair.” Also, include terms that refer to similar types of furniture; for example, if you are searching for a sideboard, you will want to include the term “buffet.”

Locate rare antiques

If you still can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.

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Buy Antiques With Confidence

Buy Antiques With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that a problem arises during your transaction, eBay and PayPal are there for you.

  • Pay safely with PayPal: PayPal enables you to pay without the seller ever seeing your bank account or credit card numbers. In fact, PayPal protects buyers 100% against unauthorized payments from their accounts. Plus, with PayPal Buyer Protection, your purchase can be covered up to C$1,250.

  • eBay Security & Resolution Centre: Visit the Security & Resolution Centre to learn how to protect your account and use eBay's quick and efficient resolution tools.

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