Whose experience counts the most? This is a pertinent question given the reaction to the pair of commodes that I wrote about yesterday. Is it the restorer, the auction house expert, an art consultant or the dealer?

I strongly believe that the dealer, an owner who has invested his money in furniture year in and year out, is the one with the most relevant experience. But then some dealers have terrible taste and have never really grown with their knowledge. Auction houses always want to sell what they have and urge buyers to bid in the sale of the moment. I don’t think their opinions are entirely unbiased. And agents want their clients to believe that they know enough to make informed decisions which is not enough. I once heard an agent say to a client that if she wanted the rarest of the rare, then they would just have to go find it. They are probably still looking, that is if they are still speaking. Restorers are very good judges of quality as a rule. But would I trust a restorer to be able to tell how old a piece of wood is? Would I trust a restorer to tell me that his logic is the only explanation? In a word, no.

Experience for those who have truly earned it is always hard won. It takes it out of you, but it can create a unique knowledge.

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