After years in the doldrums, the price of antiques has started to rise – making now the time to buy, says BADA chief executive Marco Forgione.
It may have taken some time but, at last, the overall market is picking up. 18 months ago it was causing concern, but now the market is improving across the board. The low value of sterling means overseas buyers are attracted to the UK market, but the home market is also reviving.
The difference is that while there has always been a healthy market for the finest objects, now mid-range items are attracting more interest.
Tastes are changing too. The minimalist aesthetic that has dominated for a long time is breaking down now, and people are showing greater interest in more diverse items. They are looking to furnish their homes with a few exciting, interesting pieces that combine artistic appeal with a compelling narrative, which they place among more contemporary designs. Thus, good examples of design and ethnographic and folk art are being mixed with more traditional antiques, adding vibrancy to this blended approach.
This year’s BADA Fair was very successful and I was particularly pleased that British furniture did so well. We’re evangelical about the style and quality of our members’ objects. It seems buyers, collectors and interior designers are now in agreement.
As for prices, renewed interest in mid-market objects means that prices, currently reasonable, are likely to rise. For instance, at present antique furniture is relatively inexpensive, and can be found for prices similar to those of contemporary mass-market pieces, which do not have the same qualities as antique pieces.
Antique items can be aesthetically pleasing, have interesting heritage and they are sustainable. Whatever you choose, buy something you like, and which will give you pleasure for years to come. Find a dealer who you like and trust, and talk to them about what you want. They should be able to tell you about the manufacture of the object, its provenance and how to care for it. One of the joys of buying antique items is that they each have their own histories and stories, which dealers often know.
BADA dealers have a code of conduct and are vetted annually to check their level of knowledge, expertise, business practices, and the quality of their stock. Once you have bought your object, look after it carefully. Many high street furniture polishes leave a residue that could potentially damage antique furniture, and some silver cleaning products can affect the look of the object.
What I would buy
With that to spend I would opt for a complete set of Cecil Beaton’s diaries, with original dust jackets. First editions, first printings (except Years Between and Parting Years which are second impressions), six volumes in total. (£550 from Beaux Books.)
How about this Anglo-Indian stag horn box, c. 1855 Possibly by Chinniah, a master craftsman in Waltair (now part of Visakhapatnam), India? The sandalwood box is overlaid with strips of horn from the Sambar Deer. (£4,800 from Peter Petrou.)
With that amount of money to spend I would buy Landslide, acrylic on cotton duck by the late John Hoyland RA (1934-2011), who was one of Britain’s leading abstract painters. (£50,000 from Alan