The allure of antiques for some people is as an investment. The is easily the trickiest aspect of antique furniture. Yes, it can be an investment. No, it isn’t always. When isn’t an investment? When no one is willing to pay you more than you paid for an item, of course. But then, you have been able to live with it for a certain amount of time. What is that worth?
But that is not the conundrum I want to discuss. The conundrum is to do with where dealers get their inventory. We buy from other dealers. Had I owned the chair that sold at Sotheby’s London in early June for almost $200,000, I probalby would have priced it at around $75,000. It would have made a great investment for someone at that price. Dealers buy from dealers all the time.
The auction houses have talked for years about how they have been the source for dealers. That is true, but they have made capital out of the fact by luring customers to buy “wholesale” from them. Dealers sell to dealers all the time and the food chain is not always from small dealers to large “name” dealers. If you really want to invest, it would pay to look at dealer inventories closely. There might be something that is not only underpriced but which is also worth living with for a decade or two.