STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Just as you do your homework before making other important purchases, it's a good idea to research antiques before you buy them. This may include visiting antique shops, malls, and auctions; talking with collectors and reputable dealers; and reading price guides, auction catalogs, books, and magazines on the items you're interested in buying.

The more you know, the less likely you are to buy something that isn't what you thought, or to pay more than you should.

When shopping, ask questions:

• How long have you been a dealer?
• Do you belong to any professional organizations, like dealer associations, appraiser associations, or organizations related to specific types of merchandise?
• Do you specialize in certain items? Dealers who specialize can teach you a lot about telling the difference between real antiques, reproductions, and fakes.
• Do you carry reproductions? If dealers have reproductions mixed in with antiques, the reproductions should be labeled clearly. If they're not, be careful: Some reproductions are so well done that even experts can have trouble recognizing them for what they are.
• How do you know the item is genuine and not a fake or reproduction?
• How did you determine the price for the item?
• What criteria did you use to identify the item?
• Will you guarantee the authenticity of the item in writing? If the dealer isn't willing to give you a guarantee, don't disqualify the purchase. Many dealers buy items without absolute certainty about their authenticity, but the price should reflect that.
• What is your return policy? A reputable dealer should agree, in writing, to take back anything that was misrepresented.

When you decide to buy an item, get a written receipt that includes the seller's name, address, and phone number; the date; a complete description of the item, including age, origin, any repairs or replacements, the price you paid, and how you paid; and, if the seller claims the item is authentic, a written guarantee.

About Victory State Bank:

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.'s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online

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