Globalization means different things to different people. To someone in a sneaker factory in Indonesia, it means a job. To someone in New York City, you might think it would mean a less expensive pair of sneakers, but it doesn’t. That is because branding, usually in the form of celebrity endorsements, can make one pair of sneakers more desirable than another. Globalization as a market force that can make a product more available at a reduced price is not a factor here, nor will it ever be when branding is an issue.

The English furniture world is no different. The amount of money a dealer puts into branding reaps rewards, but those rewards in the small market of English furniture are very tough to measure. Indeed, it is only the expansion of the marketplace that will make the market viable since people inevitably can only buy so much furniture. But the branding of English furniture itself is usually to identify the client. The furniture may be about history, quality, color or whatever, but the branding is both for and about how people see the way they live.

The American based dealer has an uphill battle in this regard. As a shopowner on the Upper East Side, you would think that I would cull customers aplenty from my immediate area. But the fact is that many people prefer the pleasure of a trip to London and its attendant costs to seeking me out. It is my job to see that they do not. But it is hard to counter the fact that as a dealer in English furniture, I am not English. That is just prejudice and it is a part of business.

In the end, I tell all my clients that, just as with a pair of sneakers, it is the product that counts. If those sneakers allow you to jump ten inches higher, by all means, buy them. If, on the other hand, there is no difference, see beyond the hype and the branding. The product, in the end, is not who else wears it, it is about your comfort wearing it. With antique furniture, the product has to be what you want to live with and how it adds pleasure to your life. That is the only bottom line.


Value is the most debated question that hovers almost every market at all times. In boom times, values seem assured and in down times, not so much. Which is right?

Everyone knows that when you drive a new car out of the showroom, it loses a great deal of value immediately. That is why leasing was developed, but even then, the actual value of a car remains elusive.

The art and antiques market is no less opaque. No two Van Gogh paintings are alike so should they be ranked in value? That omits personal preference, no less makes a mockery of expert opinion.

An unusual event happened at the Spencer Sale this summer at Christie’s in London. Two pairs of identical chairs were auctioned, Lots 1005 and 1006 and the first pair sold for over eight hundred thousand pounds and the second pair for under four hundred thousand.

One explanation for this is that English furniture is both out of fashion and in a down market. Hence there will be erratic sales. And yet the record for a piece of English furniture, unbroken for 19 years, was broken at Sotheby’s in London for the Harrington Commode by Thomas Chippendale which sold for just under three million, eight hundred thousand pounds.

Personally, I don’t feel that up or down markets affect intrinsic value if the item is truly great. Are fifty pave diamonds worth the cabochon in a tiara even though the carat quantity may be the same?

But then, value is opinion. And yet it isn’t. The nail for the horseshoe that was missing at the wrong time cost a kingdom. Otherwise, it was just a bit of steel. So, you figure it out. What is worth a lot to you (human beings notwithstanding) and tell me why and tell me if you think others will agree with you.

I was reading a review of some Apple product the other day and the reviewer said that it was pointless to criticize any Apple product because of the rabid fan base that Apple has. As an owner of an iphone, I have to say that it has severe shortcomings, one of which is the amplification one has in the phone and secondly the loudness of the ring. As a hearing challenged individual, I have to remove my hearing aid in order to speak on the phone, but since I never hear anyone calling me, I never have to go through that process. Great design!?

What I want to talk about is value in English antique furniture, but my point is that markets can get so hot there is very little focus on intrinsic value. The English furniture market appears so cold that it seems like it may lose a leg from frost bite. But remember, as I said in my last blog, the record for English furniture was broken two months ago.

The English furniture market has become one of extremely focused buyers. There is a collector’s mindset out there, these people are not Apple groupies. Anyone who keeps this in mind will realize that markets are shaped by multiple forces that are not easily explained. Least of all the English antique furniture market.