The beginning of 2014 marked the continuation of high levels of uncertainty in the antiques market. Selective buying at auction has become even more selective, with previously middle market antiques often receiving no bids at auction. The sea change in taste towards simple lines continues with the influence of boutique hotels and the retail market showing that buyers are increasingly buying antiques as a focus in a room, rather than using them as an entire scheme.
So what are our current recommendations? Now is the time to buy well-made, solid, utilitarian antiques to furnish, especially from established salerooms. A chair that has lasted 200 years should last another 200. These have never been cheap, but the best never is, whether from an auction or a reasonably priced dealer. Executors of estates and private clients wishing to sell should consider sale options most carefully as the market has changed radically in the last five years.
Antique prices have fallen less for solid wood furniture than veneered pieces, where the cost of restoration is often prohibitive. The retail market appears to have become an even more expensive sector to buy, particularly where the rents for dealers are high. This office has noted the increase in the numbers of retailers seeking up to 1000% mark-up on selected pieces. Others have given up their galleries and are dealing from home with their established clientele.
The plus areas are still the big names in Contemporary British Art, who continue to reform well, with memorabilia of many types including rock and roll, film, sport together with 20th century First Editions, particularly where there is a media tie-in.