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International Forwarding Association Blog » European Logistics » Guide to Shipping Antique Items

Guide to Shipping Antique Items

Antiques are among the most valuable items that customers ship, whether bought from specialized dealers, auction houses, or flea markets or passed down through generations. As they have а financial and sentimental value, leaving them behind or selling them is usually not an option. And whether shipping for individual customers, estate distributors, auction houses, or dealers, there are some details to consider when moving antiques long distances.


Types of Antiques

Freight forwarders ship a wide range of antique items, including dressers and chests, curio cabinets, secretary desks, and mirrors. Other items include:

  • Glass and porcelain items
  • Family heirlooms
  • Clocks
  • China cabinets
  • Armoires
  • Jewelry
  • Hunting decoys
  • Cast iron doorstops
  • Rare books
  • Old paintings
  • Light fixtures and chandeliers
  • Art pottery
  • Musical instruments
  • China sets


Special Considerations

Antiques are not only quite diverse but old which makes them difficult to ship. In many cases, they should be appraised to determine their value and make an insurance claim in case of damage or loss. Also, furniture can be fragile, including antiques that contain ornate crowns, spindle legs, stone or marble inserts, or glass panels. Wooden furniture, in particular, is prone to damage or breakage because adhesives, bolts, and old wood are often dry.

Before packing and shipping antique items, it is important to inspect them thoroughly and document their condition. Look for problem areas such as the feet, legs, top, and main frame as well as loose joints or cracks.

How you ship antique items depends on their size and whether they can be disassembled. Small items such as porcelain dishes, vinyl records, and antique dolls can be shipped in boxes while larger pieces may require special consideration and care. Some large-size antiques can be disassembled while others cannot, including items with claw feet, irreplaceable casters, and stripped or rusted bolts. Such antiques should be wrapped and packed carefully and loaded on a hand truck or dolly. If you are shipping items with claw feet or irreplaceable casters, you will want to place them upside down. This will help reduce pressure on delicate parts.

Temperatures and humidity during transit should be accounted for, depending on the type and age of the wood. Extreme temperatures and high levels of humidity can damage the finish of some items. If you are putting antique items into storage, consider using climate-controlled units to reduce the risk of seeing them ruined.


Shipping Methods for Antiques

Depending on size and type, there are different shipping methods available, including consolidated freight, truck transport, and parcel shipping. The latter option is a good choice for small shipments and items that can be placed in individual boxes. If you opt for parcel shipping, make sure to include adequate insurance coverage. Truck transport is a good option for larger items such as furniture, chandeliers, and musical instruments. If any items have fragile casters, feet, or legs, you’ll want to place them upside down. Lastly, if you need a less-than-truckload, consider using consolidated freight as a more cost-effective alternative.