If you can't touch it, don't buy it.
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You need to get your hands on something to get any sense of whether it's the real deal. "Your senses will tell you so much in a very short period of time," says Dowling "It comes down to muscle memory. If you hold 50 Lalique car mascots and the 51st is a fake, you'll know it doesn't feel right. Buying items that you haven't touched, felt, smelt...you're asking for trouble." That means you shouldn't buy stuff over the Internet, and always examine a potential auction purchase before bidding. "It could be chipped, it could be broken, it could be fake," says Dowling. "If you can't handle it, you really, really shouldn't be buying it."