If your home looks like this, you definitely need this guide to moving antiques and collectibles.

Whether it be fine art, a collection of porcelain dolls, or a piece of large antique furniture, antiques by their very definition are old, usually fragile or delicate, are of good quality, are of high monetary, and usually, high sentimental value.

Not the type of things that you want to entrust just anybody to pack and move for you, especially when moving home over a long distance.

The most critical part of any home move is preparation and planning, this is even more crucial if moving highly valuable and cherished antique furniture or collectibles.

There is a 3-step process to ensure the safe relocation of your prized possessions:

  1. Firstly, you will need to very carefully select which reputable Removal Company to hire to pack and move your antiques.
  2. Then you should prepare your heirlooms for their relocation.
  3. Finally, you will need detailed, and tried and tested, methods to pack any antiques you wish to move yourself.

Read on to discover all you need to know about moving home with fine antiques.

How To Choose a Reputable Removal Company

Getting an antique cabinet down from the penthouse requires skill and specialist equipment. Leave it to the professionals.

It cannot be stressed enough that choosing an expert removal company is vital to ensure the safe relocation of your antiques.

There is no substitute for the skills and experience that a specialist removal company will offer you.

Whilst a specialist antique removal company will not come cheap, the peace of mind of knowing that your irreplaceable antiques are being properly packed and transported is priceless.

But choosing the right removal company will require thorough investigation and consideration.

You may also like to read: How to Pick a Good Removal Company. The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide. It is so essential to pick the right removal company for your move that we have created a step-by-step guide using a real case study to help you make the right choice from one of the thousands of removal companies out there.

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How to Prepare Antiques For a Home Move

For insurance purposes, it is essential to get your antiques appraised before packing them

1. Get your Antiques Appraised

This is an important first step in your antiques relocation. The benefits of having your antiques professionally assessed are that:

  • You will have an accurate valuation for insurance purposes
  • You will have documented, independent verification of the condition of the item

To find a local professional antiques assessor in your area you can visit the British Antique Dealers Association website or alternatively speak to your insurance company who may be able to recommend someone.

If you prefer there are also online valuation services such as Value My Stuff.

Auction houses such as Bonhams also offer valuation services.

2. Should you Keep, Sell, or Donate your Antiques?

Moving home is a great time to declutter our lives and get rid of all those items that we no longer have a use for.

This is also a great way to reduce your removal costs, but parting with family heirlooms will require more reasoned judgment than selling a duplicate waffle maker and only you can make that decision.

It is a good idea to make a detailed floorplan of your new residence to ensure that your antique pieces will fit in your new home, there is no point in spending time and effort in moving furniture that will not fit into your new home. And with delicate or fragile antiques you only want to have to move them once.

There are also some other reasons you may consider before paying to move all your antiques, which are:

  • You are downsizing and your new home will not accommodate the antique pieces
  • You cannot physically get the item into your new home
  • The cost of moving the item will outweigh its value
  • The money raised by selling the item can be put to other good uses
  • Will specialized storage of your antiques cost more than their value over time?

You may also like to read: The Epic Guide to Decluttering for a Home Move. Decluttering is an essential part of the preparation of any home move. In this guide, we show you not only how to declutter but how to detach yourself emotionally from your possessions which is often the hardest part of the decluttering process.

3. What Antiques or Collectibles Can’t a Removal Company Transport?

Often for health and safety reasons or the high risks involved, your removal company will have a definitive list of items that they cannot transport to your new home and this may include the following:

  • Stamp Collections
  • Coin Collections
  • Antique Weapons
  • Jewellery
  • Watches
  • Precious Stones or Metals

Pay special attention to the lists of prohibited items if you are moving abroad, some things may be banned for import that you have not considered, for example:

  • Some types of wood are prohibited from being imported into some countries
  • What we would consider risqué postcards, for example, may be classed as obscene in some countries

Also, you need to be aware that VAT may be payable when exporting antiques, and additionally, an export licence may be required.

Full details about the requirements for such a licence can be found on the BADA website or the Arts Council website.

Bear in mind that some countries will also seek entry taxes for antiques, and to find out about these possible charges call the tariff section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 020 7215 5000.

When moving abroad with antiques always seek professional advice first.

You may also like to read: International Home Moves. The Ultimate Home Moving Challenge. If you are about to move overseas then you will find this guide to international home moves invaluable.

4. Which Antiques Require Specialist Packing?

Often, bespoke crates have to be built to move fragile or expensive antiques

Packing large pieces of antique furniture and fine art is best left to the experts as specialist plywood crates may have to be constructed to ensure their safety whilst in transit.

5. Which Antiques Can I Pack Myself?

With the right skills and guidance, you should be able to safely and expertly pack any of your smaller treasures ready for your home move. The 3rd section of this guide will give you expert packing and packing materials tips.

6. Inventory your Antiques

This is essential whether moving across town or further afield.

Every item should be listed, including anything that you think is noteworthy. You can also enter the values as given by the antique assessor on a spreadsheet.

An inventory is invaluable not only to have a log of what has been packed but also should the need arise in the event of an insurance claim.

7. Photograph your Heirlooms

No matter how detailed your inventory is, a picture will speak a thousand words.

Photograph the piece from every angle, capturing hallmarks and signatures.

Should the worst happen and you need to make an insurance claim, these photographs will be invaluable.

Don’t forget to have backup copies of the images sent to your email address or another form of external storage.

8. Insure your Antiques

It is essential that you have insurance in place that will compensate you should the worst happen. By following the steps in this preparation list you will be able to supply evidence of condition and certified valuations when the insurance company requests them.

Please ensure that you are fully compliant with any conditions of your insurance cover before you pack a single item.

It is no good reading the clauses and small print when you are about to make a claim, be sure you have done all that is required of you so that the insurance company will honour their part of the deal.

Insurance is no substitute for expert packing, so the next section will offer you expert tips on packing antiques and collectibles.

You may also like to read: Home Moving Insurance, Do I Need It? A recurring theme in the complaints about removal companies is the compensation people were offered for damaged items. The vast majority of people underinsure their possessions and do not read the insurance policy carefully enough. In this guide, we share all there is to know about home moving insurance.

Bonus information: Here is a comprehensive list of UK Antique dealers who may be able to offer advice should you require it from Selling Antiques.co.uk 

Packing Tips For Antiques and Collectibles

Professional packers will use the best quality furniture blankets to protect your antique furniture

Writing this I am constantly having flashbacks to Del and Rodney trying to remove a crystal chandelier for cleaning, absolutely classic, but this does illustrate how some jobs are best left to the experts, despite the ‘how difficult can it be’ mentality.

Most websites will recommend that you leave the packing to the experts, after all, they have the skills, materials, and expertise to ensure that your antiques and collectibles are properly packaged for your home move.

And certainly, I would leave all the packing to the experts if I were moving overseas.

Without a doubt, any pieces of antique furniture should be packed and moved by a reputable removal company. The dangers in moving antique furniture yourself are far too high to risk.

However, I will go against the grain here and suggest that as long as you have the time and inclination, there is no reason why you could not, and should not, pack smaller items yourself, especially things like figurine collections.

Remember that most removal companies will not move high-value collections so they will have to travel with you to your new home anyway.

And in all honesty, no one is going to take as much care as you when packing your prized antique possessions.

So, first off, the do not-do list:

  • Don’t use synthetic wraps directly on wood
  • Don’t use newsprint as packing as the ink will rub off onto your antiques
  • Never allow packing tape to directly touch the surface of any antique

And some advice regarding packing materials:

  • Only use acid-free paper for wrapping antiques, this is because it is pH neutral and will not corrode or stain as some wrappings can.
  • Use an absolute minimum of two-ply cardboard boxes
  • Only pack one item per box for statues, figurines, and larger crockery pieces
  • Have an abundance of packing materials available: Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, acid-free packing paper, quality packing tape, and a minimum of 2-ply cardboard boxes.
  • Consider using elastic bands to seal internal packaging, as using tape may cause damage to any surface when being cut away from the bubble wrap.

Bonus Essential Advice: Extreme temperature can crack porcelain or fine china no matter how well packed – acclimatise items for at least one hour before opening the boxes.

You may also like to read: How to Pack Fragile Items for a Home Move. There are likely to be many items around your home that will require extra special packing when moving home. This guide explains all you need to know about how to pack various fragile items for a home move.

How to Pack Porcelain Figurines

Due to the awkward shapes and delicate protrusions, you will need some serious packing skills for figurines

There are two recommended ways of packing porcelain figurines when moving home.

The Mummy Wrap: This method is suitable for packing items that do not have delicate protrusions such as flower petals or limbs.

  • Select a box approximately 10cm bigger on each side than the item you are packing.
  • Fill the bottom of the box with padding of at least 10cm deep to act as a shock absorber.
  • Wrap the item in PH-neutral packing paper
  • Wrap the item again with at least two layers of bubble wrap
  • If the item has a heavy base, stand the item upright in the box
  • Fill the gaps between the item and box walls with padding such as bubble wrap so that the item cannot move about inside the box.
  • Seal the box securely
  • Note on the outside of the box which way the head or base of the item is facing as more damage can be caused by unwrapping the item than in transit.
  • Take a second box larger than the packed box by at least 5cm on each side.
  • Pad the second box well and then place the sealed first box inside it.
  • Fill the gaps between the boxes well so that the box is securely padded all around.
  • Seal the second box securely again noting which way up it should be.
  • Label the box as fragile, this way up, and which room it should go into in your new home.

The Free float method: Recommended for pieces with delicate protrusions.

  • Choose a box about 10cm bigger all-round than the item that you will be packing
  • Layer the bottom of the box with about 10cm of packing peanuts
  • Do not wrap the item in bubble wrap as you are likely to damage any delicate parts of the item.
  • Place the item in the box and surround it with packing peanuts.
  • Slightly overfill the box with peanuts. Packing peanuts settle, so SLIGHTLY overfilling the box means that as the peanuts settle, they will wedge the figurine securely within its protective surrounds.
  • Don’t fill the box with so many peanuts that you need to squash the lid closed, but enough that there is slight resistance as you close the box flaps.
  • As before, mark the box how the item has been placed in the box, flat or upright, and which way the head or feet are facing.
  • Then place this box inside a second box as described in the previous method and label it as before.

You may also like to read: How to Move a Grandfather Clock. In this guide, we share step-by-step packing and moving tips for your Grandfather Clock.

How to Pack Antique China Crockery

Irreplaceable collections require time, effort, and skill to pack when moving home
  • Always place plates on their edges not packed flat as they may crack
  • Use acid-free packing paper to stop bubble wrap sweating, as that can damage gilt or painted-edged plates
  • Use smaller boxes so that the weight is kept manageable and the boxes are easier to handle
  • Use quality cardboard boxes which are a minimum of 2-ply
  • Ensure the top and bottom flaps of the box are double taped width and lengthways
  • Larger crockery items should be packed one per box
  • Pad the bottom of the box with a shock-absorbing material such as bubble wrap to at least a 10cm depth
  • Wrap each plate individually in at least two sheets of acid-free packing paper
  • Then wrap again in bubble wrap
  • Place plates or dishes on their edges into the box so that they cannot move whilst in transit
  • Preferably only have one layer of plates or dishes per box
  • Ensure that the walls of each box have a cushion of 10cm of padding to protect the edges of the plates
  • Finally, add a 10cm protective layer on the top of the plates before securely taping the lid of the box shut.
  • Double box as previously described if you think the contents warrant it.
  • For exceptionally valuable crockery consider if custom-made plywood crates are a more suitable option.

You may also like to read: How to Move a Piano. 120 Piano Moving Tips. Moving a piano to your new home should be left to the professionals. However, if you decide to move it yourself then this guide explains all you need to know about preparing, packing, moving, and setting up your piano in your new home.

How to Pack China Tea Sets

  • Prepare your box as described previously above
  • Wrap the lid of a teapot in at least two layers of acid-free paper
  • Add a final layer of bubble wrap
  • Never pack a lid on top of a teapot, always wrap it separately
  • Make a tube of packing paper and insert it through the handle of the teapot and around the spout to offer maximum support.
  • Wrap the entire teapot in at least two layers of packing paper
  • Add another layer of bubble wrap
  • Pack into your padded box ensuring that the teapot and lid cannot move about.
  • You could also employ the free-floating packing method by filling the box with packing peanuts.
  • Cups should be individually wrapped tucking the edges of the packing paper into the bowl of the cup.
  • Ensure the handles of the cups are well protected.
  • Lay cups on their edges in the well-cushioned box, again preferably in one layer only
  • If you choose to have multiple layers of cups, ensure each layer has 10cm of padding between each layer.
  • Double box as described above

You may also like to read: Are Professional Packing Sevices Worth the Cost? By now you may have realised what a time-consuming and arduous task packing for a home move is. Hiring professional packers will make your home move so much easier so in this guide we look at what professional packers do, how much they cost, and whether it makes sense to hire them in your particular circumstances.

How to Pack Antique Jewellery

  • The best protection is offered by jewellery-specific boxes and if your collection does not include the original boxes, and your collection warrants it, you can buy necklace, ring, and brooch boxes online. This is the recommended option.
  • For less precious necklaces, use ziplock bags. Wrap the pendant in acid-free packing paper and drop it into a small zip lock bag which you can pad for extra protection.
  • Keep the closed clasps outside of the bag which will prevent the chain from becoming tangled.
  • Seal the bag up to the edge without damaging the chain.
  • Wrap again in acid-free packing paper or bubble wrap
  • You can also use straws to transport your necklaces by threading them through a straw and them wrapping in acid-free packing paper.
  • Rings can be individually wrapped in several sheets of paper and placed into individual bags.
  • Never place two rings or necklaces into the same bag as they may chaff each other.
  • Consider using silica gel bags if the conditions warrant it.
  • Place into a small padded box such as a shoe box
  • Ensure that the contents of the box cannot move about within the box.
  • Seal and label box
  • Multiple small boxes can be packed inside a larger box
  • Again I will state that it is highly recommended to move jewellery and watches using the specific type of box that jewelers would use to sell you the items. Then pack these into padded boxes ensuring no movement.
  • Any high-value jewellery should stay with you at all times during the home move, not in the removal van.
  • For security reasons do not label the box stating what the contents are. Use a code or something that you know identifies it as your jewellery collection.

You may also like to read: How to Pack Shoes for a Home Move. Many people also have a collection of very expensive shoes. In this guide, we show you how to prepare, pack, and move your valuable show collection.

Useful Contact: The Association of Art and Antique Dealers

How to Pack Vintage Books, Photographs, and Postcards

  • Use small, at least 2-ply packing boxes
  • Double-tape the bottom of the box
  • Pad the bottom of the boxes as previously described
  • Wrap each book individually in glassine paper
  • Place the book spine down in the box
  • Put a cardboard sheet between each book
  • Pack so that the books cannot move but not so tight the bindings are squashed
  • Avoid layering the books as this may damage them, but padding can be added to form a cushion if you do want to layer books.
  • Ensure there is enough space to add a final layer of protection before sealing the box.
  • Postcards and Photographs are likely to already be stored in purpose-specific binders with photographic sleeves that ensure that the contents cannot adhere to the sleeves.
  • Pack these binders in the way that you would books.
  • Ensure you properly label the boxes.
  • If moving when there is any chance of inclement weather you may want to double-wrap the boxes in protective cling film to stop them getting wet.

You may also like to read: How to Pack a Record Collection for Moving Home. In this guide, we share you with some invaluable packing tips for ensuring that your precious records arrive at your new home intact.

Useful Website: The Antiquarian Booksellers Association

How to Pack Vintage Bottles

Particularly fine bottles can be boxed individually but this will be time-consuming and expensive and only you know if your collection warrants that attention.

If it does, here are our top packing tips for vintage bottles:

  • Select at least a 2-ply box 10cm bigger on all sides than the bottle.
  • Add 10cm of packing peanuts to the base of the well-sealed box.
  • Wrap the bottle in acid-free packing paper
  • Add another two layers of bubble wrap.
  • If the bottle has a fragile label use an elastic band not packing tape to seal the bubble wrap as you may damage the label trying to cut away the tape when unpacking
  • Lay the bottle in the box and fill the box with peanuts.
  • SLIGHTLY overfill the box with peanuts so that they compress lightly when the box is closed and the bottle cannot move when being handled.
  • Seal the box and then place it inside another box which is again 10 cm bigger on each side than the first box.
  • Cushion the bottom of the box with a 10cm layer of peanuts
  • Place the first box inside the second and fill the surrounding space as before with peanuts.
  • Seal securely and label clearly that the contents are glass and fragile.

For bottle collections that can safely be shipped in multiples here is the recommended way of packing them:

  • Use a bottle-specific, segmented, minimum 2-ply box.
  • Seal the bottom of the box securely
  • Line the bottom of the box with at least 10 cm of bubble wrap if space allows.
  • Wrap each bottle in at least two layers of acid-free packing paper
  • Add 2 further layers of bubble wrap around the bottle so that they snugly slip into the cardboard cells in the carton.
  • Ensure the bottles cannot move or touch each other.
  • Fill any remaining gaps with bubble wrap or packing peanuts
  • Add a 10cm cushion of padding to the top of the box, or ensure that the peanuts fill the box.
  • Seal the box securely, noting which way up the box should be handled clearly on the box label.
  • You may consider placing this box inside another as previously described for added protection.
  • Remember to clearly label this box as glass, this way up.

Further assistance regarding antique and collectible bottles can be found at websites such as the British Bottle Forum 

Remember that the unpacking of your collections is just as risky as the transportation of them. Ensure you label the boxes clearly which way the item faced when it was packed.

Take extreme care when unpacking your precious items and don’t forget to let fragile items acclimatise to their new surroundings before handling them.

On a final note, if antiques are to be stored, or you are unsure in any way about moving home with precious antiques or family heirlooms, always seek professional advice.

The above advice is gleaned from experts with years of experience, but an individual assessment of the packing needs for your particular collection may be the only way to ensure that no damage is caused during your home move.

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