Compared to your other household furniture, moving antiques and other collectible items locally or cross-country, can be backbreaking and challenging. The best way to handle this situation is, of course, to hire professional movers who specialize in moving specialty items like antiques, pianos, pool tables, wine collections, paintings, chandeliers and so on.
By hiring professional moving companies, you can lessen the risk of damage to your belongings. Plus, in case something unfortunate does happen, your moving company will provide you with adequate compensation according to the kind of protection plan you’ve purchased from them.
Moving antiques from one location to another should be done with careful planning and preparation. Unlike normal household items which can be easily replaced, most of these antiques and collectibles are highly valuable and are often times irreplaceable. For this reason, it’s very important that you should make every effort to ensure these items are safely relocated to their new home.
Antiques and collectibles refer to any kind of fragile porcelains, family heirlooms, paintings, valuable china and memorabilia.
If you’re thinking of packing these special items on your own, then you need to do a lot of preparation to do so. Remember that this task can’t be done by yourself, it’s a good idea to call some of your friends to help you out.
You need to prepare materials and tools which you can buy from your local hardware store.
These supplies include double and triple-walled (thick-walled) cardboard boxes, stretch wrap, cushioning wrap, packing tape, fine tissue and craft paper.
Also, we strongly advise to keep these following items with you at all times during the move:
- Fine jewelry – necklaces, rings, bracelets, watches, etc.
- Coin collections, cash and negotiable paper like stock certificates, bonds, notes, and so on.
- Important files and documents like land deeds, titles, bank books, tax forms and other similar items.
- Prescriptions, medical records and dental records.
- Keys to your safety vault, your own house and furniture (cupboards or cabinets).
- Pictures, photo albums, picture frames and other sentimental items.
By storing these in your own vehicle, you can ensure the item’s safety and security.
If you’re planning to move any antique furniture, you should follow all these steps:
- Make an inventory of your antique and other collectible items.
You can refer to this list later once everything has been shipped to your new location. Check whether all the items have been delivered successfully and that there are no damages to any of them. Also, don’t forget to make a separate inventory of all your non-antique furniture that will require special packing and handling. Consider the following attributes fragility, sentimental value, aesthetic appeal and so on. Include in your list if they have any previous damage like scratches or dents.
- Take clear photos of your antiques and collectible items.
Take pictures from all sides and angles. These will serve as your proof in case something unexpected happens. Concentrate on pre-existing damage, weakened parts or extra fragile parts. You can also use your cell phone to take a video of them. Photos and videos can be used as evidence for insurance claims.
- Consider whether to move your antique furniture or sell it for cash.
Decide whether ALL of the items you have are actually worth the expense, time and energy in relocating them to your new house. Of course, don’t just decide on a whim, then regret it later. Take your time to evaluate and then decide. The money that you’ll get from selling them can be added to your moving budget.
- Get your antique or collectibles appraised.
Having your antique furniture appraised will give you an idea on how much insurance coverage you need to purchase from your moving company or insurance agent. It’s vital to know just how much your item is worth before the actual move day.
If you don’t know who to talk to, you can ask your insurance company or any trustworthy authorized antique dealers for any recommendations for licensed antique furniture appraisers in your area. You can also contact the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) for help or find an expert appraiser using their website.
- Get proper insurance coverage.
After getting your antique furniture and collectibles appraised, the next thing to do is to purchase the right insurance coverage that’ll protect your valuable belongings in case something unexpected happens. Contact your moving company or insurance agent to talk about the best insurance options for your antique items during transport.
- Take a closer look at each of your antique furniture and determine the possible risks that may occur during the move.
Examine all the parts of each of your furniture. From its main hardware, top section, legs, its current condition to any pre-existing damages like cracks, loose joints, dents, etc. This is actually a suggestion from the Smithsonian Institutes Blog post on moving antique furniture.
For this part you need to check the following:
- Furniture size – will the item fit through the doors and doorframes of your old or new house? It’s best to measure the dimensions of your furniture and compare it to your doorways to ensure that the antique furniture can safely maneuver across the hall, around tight areas and even downstairs.
- Make a floor plan of your new home – Knowing the exact sizes and shapes of your antiques will enable you to arrange them in a safe, convenient and efficient way in your new home. This saves you time and effort in arranging and rearranging your furniture. Plus, it can also give you an idea whether the furniture can actually fit inside your new home or not.
- Temperature and humidity – Remember that the temperature and humidity in your new house should be at least similar to what you have in your previous home. Use a hygrometer or an indoor humidity monitor to measure your home’s humidity level. If in case you’re planning to move to a place where it’s much cooler or warmer, ask your licensed antique dealer about the best way to preserve your antiques. No matter the type of wood they are built with, extreme temperature and moisture can greatly affect or damage your most prized possessions.
- Check the antique furniture for any problematic spots or parts. Secure loose parts and removable pieces. Secure doors with rubber straps or strings. Take apart any delicate handles and tape them inside the drawers.
- Prepare the antique items for packing.
Consider if you need to specially clean your antiques first before packing. You can check out your local hardware shop, furniture store or antique dealer for some recommended cleaning products which you can use to clean them. Don’t use any type of oil or wax product on wooden furniture immediately before you move, especially if you’ll place them in the storage temporarily. Ask a licensed antique dealer for tips on how to take care of these antiques.
- Pack, wrap and store.
If you’re hiring movers, it’s vital that you yourself or any representative is present during the packing and moving so they can properly identify the things that need special care and handling. Wrap those heavy, bulky furniture in thick pads to protect them from any damage during transport.
In case you want to pack them on your own, then it’s important to:
- Dismantle the furniture as carefully as you can. Remove any detachable parts like drawers, doors, shelves, legs, glass panels, etc. and store them separately. Remove any glass panels, and mirrors and cover them with padding paper or stretch wrap. Place the hardware and other small pieces in labeled plastic bags. Then store these bags in a box with a label referring to which furniture it belongs to.
- Protect the furniture by providing at least 3 layers of padding. The first layer should be the surface protection that’ll guard the item’s surface from any moisture, dust, dirt, scratches, etc. For this you can use a soft packing paper or a thin plastic wrap. The second layer is for shock protection that’ll absorb any unwanted shocks and vibrations during transport. Use foam sheets or soft moving blankets, then secure the item using packing tape or a sturdy rope. The third layer is the outer protection, preferably to keep the item waterproof. For this, you can use a custom crate during shipment.
REMEMBER: Don’t use packing tape directly onto your antique furniture, else it’ll leave sticky marks on the finish and ruin it.
- Unloading and shipment. Once all the items have been shipped to your new home, refer to your inventory list and check whether everything has been delivered in one piece. Check each of the item for any damages, dents or scratches.
How to Pack Antique Collectible items
- Prepare coins, stamps and fine jewelry for transport. Keep them with you or in your own vehicle at all times.
- Store your collectible items in their original boxes. If they don’t have one, purchase a sturdy one and place bubble wrap or packing peanuts inside to fill in the gaps.
- Store chinaware, crystal and other delicate pieces separately. Wrap each one using fine tissues or newspapers, and put them in compartmentalized containers. Stand plates on the edge. Then put the stemware in different corrugated cylinders.
- Wrap dolls, figurines and sculptures in soft tissue, packing paper or even old newspaper. Store them in a sturdy, thick-walled cardboard box with bubble wrap or packing peanuts.
- Label these boxes as “FRAGILE” and “THIS SIDE UP” with arrows pointing upwards.
- Do your research prior to the move or ask a professional mover about the correct way to pack your wine or other perishable collections as well as those uncommon, difficult-to-move ones.
And that’s how you move valuable antiques and collectibles safely, efficiently and properly.