I was discussing the English furniture market with a collector the other day. He was not surprised that the record for a piece of English furniture was recently broken. He feels that the entire market is undervalued and that English furniture is extremely inexpensive at the moment.
I had to disagree. From my vantage point, almost everything of quality that turns up in auction, wherever that auction may be, seems to make good money. But I look at the market differently from a collector. I look to buy fine quality pieces which I think still have a profit in them.
But there is an aspect to what he says that is disturbing. There is a level of antique furniture that isn’t selling, or when it does, it sells very cheaply. These pieces can be confused with being antique but the difference between them and what I am buying is night and day.
There is a lot of second tier English antique furniture out there. These are pieces that have been poorly restored or in some way abused and which have lost, if they ever had, that which set them apart and made them great. It can happen to any piece, I might add.
So what may look like a great piece in a photograph is often not. And if it makes $3,000 and I have a similar looking piece for $30,000, I look usurious. The knowledge of the differences of the two items is what I live on, however, and I will continue to do so. My customers know the difference.