Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Last week I talked about a lovely man who had haggled for a marble table whilst on holiday in India.

Sadly the table (although absolutely beautiful) turned out to be made from resin and not marble, affecting its value from possibly thousands to just hundreds.

Buying antiques abroad is always a tricky thing to get right.

It can be an absolute minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Shipping is the most important thing to consider.

The risk factor in bringing delicate items back from holiday can often totally sway the decision and one must factor in this cost when doing your sums.

Items shipped home by cargo ship will be much cheaper than by air – although there may be a wait, once you’re home, before you see your treasures again.

Smaller purchases packed well in a suitcase are generally safe as long as you are under the baggage allowance weight.

It is always best to agree on a price for the article which includes shipping at the same time.

But that’s not the only thing to think about.

The person who sets out to buy antiques abroad must have a different approach from other tourists.

It takes some knowledge of what is available and where to look for it.

There is also the language barrier and money problems in foreign countries.

With English speaking countries shopping isn’t difficult.

Paris, Venice and Munich are fantastic places to start looking for treasures.

The situation is different as you travel to the Middle East.

Instead of shops and arcades you’ll find large open air markets, little open-fronted shops and fascinating bazaars.

Here bartering is the way business is done and you need to be confident and sure of what you’re buying.

Numerals are a universal sign language so a note book and pen are always worth having to hand.

Once you know the local exchange rate, you can write down the amount of money you want to spend and barter using the paper, until you arrive at a price you’re both happy with.