What To Look For
If you are collecting pieces with sterling silver tops, or silver mirrors and brushes, look for the hallmarks. Almost all sterling will be marked Sterling, or have the lion passant, the mark for sterling. You can find sterling marks from other countries on the Internet.
Check all glass for chips, cracks and nicks. Run your finger around the bottom and top. Open the jars and bottles to look for damage. But remember these were often used daily, so you should not expect a like-new piece, and a small little nick under the lid shouldn’t keep you from buying a piece.
Buy from someone you trust if you are not well-versed in identifying true antique pieces. If a piece looks in mint condition, just like new, be cautious. While it’s possible to find a piece over 100 years old without damage, it should not look new. Anything silver should have patina, and pieces covered with gilt should have a slight darkening and not be too bright and shiny.
When collecting antique perfume bottles, check the dauber, if there is one. This is a long glass wand that fits inside the top and is used for applying perfume. This piece should be intact.