Last time, we talked about the dangers of making "assumptions" at a sale or flea market. A couple of common examples were assuming that your definition of the words "old" and "antique" are just like that of another person.

Going to a flea market is, in some ways, similar to going fishing. Occasionally you will find a real bargain, but there are also times when you find no real bargain and wish you had done something else that day.

Some value-making criteria to remember include original packaging and maker's marks. For example: After World War I, Winchester Repeating Arms lost its government contract and started making hardware items, tools and sporting goods to generate revenue. At least one of its rare fishing lures in excellent condition can sell for $1,000 or more.

Knowledge pays over a period of time. It helps if you can take the time and really love studying the subject area that interests you. There are many sources of acquiring good information on various categories of antiques and collectibles.

Libraries can be an excellent source of information. Going to area auctions is another way to acquire information. Visiting area antique shops will expose you to many items and their current retail values.

To be a knowledgeable buyer, you also need to be reasonably familiar with identifying authentic items from reproductions and well-made fakes. It takes some time and reasonable exposure to acquire this type of knowledge.

A couple of ways to get more finely attuned to knowing the difference between authentic items and reproductions are:

* Get a list of various museums within reasonable driving distance and visit with them. Some museums specialize in various types of items. For example, If you are a doll collector and able to travel, there is an excellent doll museum and research library located not vary far south of the Kansas City airport. The objectives of the United Federation of Doll Collectors, a non-profit corporation, are to create, stimulate and maintain an interest in all matter pertaining to dolls. Their Web site is www.ufdc.org.

* Another way to acquire subject knowledge and learn how to identify reproductions is to have a knowledgeable antiques appraiser give a program to your social, civic or church group's monthly meeting. Sometimes the appraiser can even bring samples which enable you to see, touch and feel differences between authentic items, reproductions and fakes.

Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.