How to build an antique collection according to expert Yvonne Sanders

Article by Simply You

She’s been dealing in antiques for over 46 years. Who better to ask than Yvonne Sanders about how to build, keep and sell a collection?

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A pair of golden lions from Egypt perch on the steps inside the polished front door. Protectors of Yvonne Sanders Antiques store in Auckland, they have seen many treasures come and go; Venetian vases hand-painted with gold flourishes, tortoiseshell Boulle cabinets, Capodimonte porcelain figures frozen in romantic narratives, and myriad crystal chandeliers hoisted up on the converted 1940s warehouse’s exposed timber beams.

For 46 years, Yvonne Sanders Antiques has been the destination store for a sensory overload of beautifully unique homewares, where every piece on the shop floor has a story to tell. At 78 years of age, Sanders, a confessed Francophile, is a walking history class in recherché retail.

“When I’m sourcing Antiques I look for five main things:

  • Authenticity – Is it an antique? Is it over 100 years old or a reproduction?
  • Good Condition – Is it a marriage of parts? Does it have borer? And is it restorable?
  • Style – Not all antiques were well designed…
  • Fashion – Will it fit with current interior design trends?
  • Rarity – Preferably the item should be rare, unique and beautiful.

If you’re going to invest in an Antique, you should consider all of the above points.  You should also ask the vendor to authenticate the piece.  Any reputable dealer will be happy to do this and an authentication is invaluable when insuring the item. I also suggest that you purchase from the heart – not just because it’s an investment.”

How to look after your finds:

“Antique Restoration is a specialist subject and there are craftsmen in New Zealand who cover every aspect of this. Great care must be taken to keep the authenticity of the piece.

However, if there is someone with DIY skills and who is motivated to restore a piece of furniture, I suggest some research, first.  The late Englishman Charles Hayward wrote a series of excellent books on woodworking and antique restoration was his specialty. They can be found cheaply in second hand book stores, as they are out of print.

Antique dealers are always keen to discuss their specialist subject and can be a mine of information.

If you wish to sell an antique, there are various options:

  • Discuss it with your local antique dealer and offer to email photographs, before arranging a home visit.
  • Trade Me or EBay are now popular places to sell.
  • Auction houses, specialising in antiques are good. I’d recommend John Cordy Ltd or Dunbar Sloane, once again email photos before visiting them.

“I’ve had the happiest life dealing with antiques,” says Sanders. “Remember, it is always much easier to buy than to sell!”


Words by: Jessica-Belle Greer. Photography by: Rebekah Robinson.

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