Every garage sale lover dreams of finding that one-of-a-kind item for “real cheap." Be it a vintage lamp or a unique piece of home décor, the thought of picking up a special item for a good price drives many shoppers to go out week after week. 

Here are five tips that can help you find the antique you dream about.

  1. The early bird gets the antique worm.  In general, sellers have more selection earlier on in the day than they do in the afternoon.  Therefore, you have a better chance of scoring something special if you hit sales in the morning.
  2. Heavy = Quality.  Older items were constructed of denser, more durable materials, and will feel heavier as a result.  This holds true for everything from china to porcelain dolls.
  3. Look for signs denoting age.  Old silver items will tarnish and once you learn what tarnishing silver looks like, it’ll be easier to pick those items out from the rest.  Old pottery will develop crazing.  Crazing is that wild network of cracks in the finish.  You can tell crazing apart from cracking because you won’t be able to feel crazing.  You will be able to feel cracks in a piece.
  4. Learn about makers’ marks.  Manufacturers marked their goods back in the day.  If you know how to identify who made an object, you’ll also be able to tell whether or not the object has value.  www.Kovels.com is a good place to find information on identifying makers’ marks.
  5. Hit up sales in older neighborhoods.  This one’s just common sense.  Grandma and Grandpa are much more likely to possess old piece of silver or other valuables than a young family or a group of college kids.

Antiquing at garage sales can be a wonderful side hobby for your warm-weather weekends.  You will start to get a feel for items of value and then this becomes really fun.  These five points are your go-to starter list for scoring antiques at garage sales. 

If you're looking for the most bang for your buck, come to Billings' Biggest Garage Sale scheduled for this Saturday June 22 7am - 3pm. $3 admission for access to hundreds of sales. 

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