Antiques... looking after your valuables

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a burglary:

  • Notify the police and your insurance company immediately and supply them with photographs and detailed descriptions.
  • Consider advertising your stolen antiques in an antiques trade magazine (the police antiques section can do this on your behalf to avoid giving your details).
  • It is always worthwhile looking for your property in various antiques trade outlets, markets, shops, fairs etc.
  • Finally if you have any information concerning stolen antiques please telephone:
    01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
  • Photograph each item individually and as close up as possible.
  • Try to use a colour film.
  • Always take more than one photograph and with larger items different angles.
  • Take photographs of your rooms or displays so that it they are stolen it will remind you of what has been taken.
  • Photograph the position of any maker's marks, damage or repairs.
  • Photograph in natural daylight; if using flash avoid reflections.
  • Use a security marker pen with your postcode followed by house number or 1st two letters of house name e.g. AN1 2ZG/12 or AN1 2ZG/RO.
  • Use marker pen on parts of property which are not cleaned.
  • Use pen is possible on parts not too easily visible.
  • Use marker pen if possible or paintings (frames are alright) fabric or paper.
  • For modern garden furniture paint on postcode not too easily visible.
  • Make sure you are adequately insured.
  • Obtain valuations with descriptions by a reputable antique dealer or auctioneer if you can afford it.
  • Keep receipts of recent purchases.
  • Remember your photographs and descriptions help to prove to your insurance company that your treasures are antiques.

Make a written inventory of your antiques with descriptions and measurements either on the back of the photographs or separate notebooks etc.

The following list gives a few hints on how to describe your antiques.


Medium - oil on canvas, board, panel, wood or copper, watercolour, pastels, print, etching etc.
Subject - landscape, seascape, portraits, still life (fruit flowers etc) animals, birds, river/lake, building or interior scene. Try to describe as much detail as possible, including colours.
Artist - If signed and dated, position of signature on painting.
Title - usually on a plaque on the front of the painting.
Size - actual size of picture, height first.
Shape - rectangular, round, oval, square.
Other marks - writing or labels on back of frame etc and damage.

Clocks & Watches

Type of clock - Mantle, bracket, long case, wall, carriage.
Maker of clock - usually found on face. Maker and number of movement, usually in back of clock.
Measurements Material and decoration of case - type of wood, e.g. mahogany, oak, brass, ormolu, lacquer.
Face - white enamel, brass, silvered.
Decoration - describe any brass, e.g. finials, legs, fretwork, any inlay, painting etc.
Marks - describe any repair or damage marks.


Is it silver or silver plate?
Initials or crests - describe any initials, inscriptions, crests etc in full.
Hallmarks - and date if known.
Type - Cutlery, salver, trophy, cups, tankards, salts, tea and coffee service etc.
Decoration - is it embossed or decorated e.g. with birds, cherubs, flowers, scrolls, romantic or hunting scenes.


Type - chair, table, desk, dresser, chest etc.
Style/period - Georgian, Regency, Chippendale, Victorian etc.
Woods - cabriole, turned, barley twist, tripod.
Feet - pad, ball and claw, hoof.
Other - handles, finials, any inlay, brass, painting.
Upholstery - material, colour and pattern.
Marks - position and description of any damage or repair marks.


Plate, figurine, vase, jug etc.
Make, mark or number (on bottom).
Pattern and colour e.g. blue white willow pattern, satsuma, famille vase etc.
Damage or repair marks.