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posted: 2/14/2013 1:05 PM

Tips of the trade

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Whether you're already an antiques buff or just wondering where to start, antiques dealers and collectors Chuck and Mary Springob offer their advice.

• If you're just starting out, your best bet is to find a dealer you trust and stick with them.

• Look for a shop that has just one owner.

• If you're looking for a specific item, shows come in handy; many have dealers who specialize in certain things.

• Get to antique shows and auctions early for the best selection.

• Most dealers will negotiate price. "It's all part of the game," Chuck said -- but be aware that a lot of work goes into restoring pieces, which factors into the price.

• The hardware, construction and style of an item is going to tell you a lot about when it was made and where it was made. For example, an item with square nails dates to pre-1880s, when nails were still handmade.

• Don't feel badly if you overpay for a piece. "That's just part of the business," Mary said. "We still make mistakes."

• Trends change, but right now some trendy items include: painted furniture, oak, Mission style, globes, Christmas and Halloween decorations.

• Buy what you like. If you change your mind, or your collection grows too large, you can always sell it.

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