Antiques dealers buy and sell old objects and collectors' items.

What does an antiques dealer do?

As an antiques dealer, you could work with a wide range of objects or specialise in a particular area, such as jewellery, glass, furniture or china. Your work could include:

  • buying items from salesrooms, auctions, markets, trade fairs and private owners
  • selling items to the general public from shops or from stalls in antique centres
  • negotiating purchases and sales
  • buying and selling items online
  • carrying out minor restoration work
  • researching the identity and value of objects
  • advising owners on the value of their antiques for insurance or sales purposes

You could also work from home, buying and selling to suit customer orders.

What do I need to do to become an antiques dealer?

You do not need any particular qualifications to be an antique dealer. A good knowledge of antiques and the market will be needed. Your sales skills, ability to spot saleable items, and funds for starting up are more important than formal qualifications.

You could start in this career in any of the following ways:

  • working in an antiques shop as an assistant or general worker
  • working in a salesroom or an auction house as a porter, clerk, cataloguer, valuer or auctioneer
  • collecting and researching antiques as a hobby then taking a stall at antiques markets or fairs, buying and selling on the internet, or opening a shop

You could combine any of these options with part-time or short residential courses in arts subjects like antiques, history of art, fine art or decorative arts.

Another option might be to study for a degree or diploma in a related area such as fine arts or art history to develop your knowledge, although this is not essential. Entry requirements for courses vary, so you should check with individual colleges or universities.

Some of the larger auction houses, such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s run short courses in art history and the arts market. They also offer more in-depth postgraduate study aimed at graduates wishing to work in the commercial arts market. 

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Business management

Essential qualifications

  • There are no formal qualifications needed to be an antique dealer.

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You would usually do a lot of travelling, visiting clients and going to auctions and antique fairs. This could involve spending nights away from home. 

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