November/December editorial

Following last year’s precedent, we are combining the November and December months in this issue. We will produce a separate January issue early in the New Year. The combined months help to deal more satisfactorily with the looming prospect of Christmas as a final shopping event stimulating antiques as gifts. A January magazine provides a fresh, clean start to the next year. It has been a very active period for collectors and heartening to observe that the underlying impulse to accumulate better and rarer examples of each individual’s particular interest shows no sign of abating. Some of the year’s TV programmes on the subject have shown amazing collections of artefacts housed in unlikely locations, with the proud owner or owners not in the least dismayed by the extent to which their home or premises are jammed with ranks of the collected pieces. Long may such eccentricity bloom.

Change often seems to become entrenched, but nothing lasts forever. The year 2014 has seen much more optimism in the view held by professionals of the antiques business. The minimalist fashion that caused such a withdrawal from traditional décor, with momentous impact on antique furniture and derogatory remarks about ‘dull brown’, no longer exerts the all-powerful sway that it imposed upon interiors a few years ago. Emphasis on domestic ‘de-cluttering,’ although still in evidence, is not as powerfully promoted as it was. Much more decorative and varied approaches are being accepted. Indeed, the Sunday Times supplement Homes recently extolled the virtues of having walls covered with paintings rather than being limited to the big single plasma screen that so many modernist interiors display. Bare walls and polished board floors beneath three-piece suites accompany such screens but in the supplement, the happiness guru Paul Dolan encourages the reader to move paintings onto the unadorned walls. Having pictures and moving them around is apparently a cure for stress, quite apart from the novelty of seeing them in different perspectives, like treating your home as a gallery. He also suggests that books can be rearranged from time to time so that the ‘picture’ or texture they create changes too. Apart from the surprise conveyed by the idea that readers of the Sunday Times still possess such obsolete objects as books, it was agreed that the desire to order them by surname, genre or colour might have to be overcome in this vogue for visual reshuffling. But in the same supplement, as part of a Downton Abbey at Home catalogue collection curated by Joanna McKerlie, a reproduction ‘Queen Anne’ bureau was displayed at £599 and recommended for bringing a little period flavour into your home whilst providing pigeonholes for illicit correspondence. This is in defiance of continuing saleroom rejections of genuine antique sloping-lid bureaux, so its atavistic view of furnishing surely marks what might prove to be a major change of fashion.

Long-term collectors, of whom subscribers to the Antique Collectors’ Club must surely be a dedicated phalanx, may smile weary smiles at this news of yet another volte-face in the vogue decorative impositions conveyed by the popular press. In his book At Home, a monumental history of domestic arrangements, Bill Bryson wrote that ‘to anyone of a rational disposition, fashion is often impossible to fathom.’ If the kind of change these straws in the wind hint at really is approaching, the 180-degree turn in attitude to domestic style has not yet filtered down to provincial salerooms, where antiques, particularly furniture, are still being sold at price levels of twenty years or so ago. We therefore await the progress of 2015 with bated breath. Business confidence is currently said to be high and the ACC Antique Furniture Price Index used to follow business confidence very closely, so perhaps movement will occur.

But enough about fashion and confidence; we have long known all about those two impostors. In great appreciation of your continued support and encouragement, and in hopes that you will recommend this magazine to family and friends, we gladly take the opportunity to wish the very best of the festive season and a Happy New Year to all our subscribers.

John Andrews

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