Antiques & Design Trends | Antique & Art Exchange

Antiques & Design Trends

The last 10 years have seen a dramatic shift in the market for antiques. Economic forces and changing styles (fashion) have changed the landscape. Prices that went steadily up for decades came down. If you are a contrarian, now is the moment to think about collecting. The shelter magazines are showing color and antiques again. Taste and fashion are regional. On the East Coast and through most of the rest of the country, antiques are enthusiastically collected. Too many years ago to think about, I fell in love with rare, old beautiful objects and the search for them. My favorite haunts were museums and libraries. I played a game where I guessed the origin and age before I read the description, congratulating myself when I was right & studying harder when I was wrong. Every era has a notion of beauty that is reflected in art, design and dress. This is often how we know about when a piece was made. A book written about 60 years ago covered antique furniture styles and periods. The author was certain nothing worthwhile was made after 1790 and that English Regency furniture was an abomination. When I started working in the antiques trade, in the late 1980’s, English Regency furniture was regarded quite highly, and if decent, brought a lot of money. Antiques were never considered to be for everyone but, I would be silly not to mention the new elites taste for mid-century furniture. Here is the fun part. As markets go, few are more imperfect than the decorative arts market. More precisely, if you take the time to learn, you can buy amazing treasures at bargain prices. Most sellers don’t study and prices are based on a whim. Several months ago I bought an eccentric pair of chairs probably from the 1970’s, not my thing. I really did not want them but a friend needed to sell them. A sharp designer picked them up for very near what I paid for them. I was very happy to be rid of them. Sometime has passed and now a similar pair by some famous Italian Designer is being offered for 5 figures. I don’t know when or if the chairs will ever sell for 5 figures. What I want you to consider is that treasure is out there for the taking. Finally, the core of the antiques business is still pretty strong. Sophisticated buyers know a well made old piece will last while the overwhelming majority of new furniture is just at some point on its way to the dump. There are a fair number of us that will probably never give up the treasure hunt.


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