Antiques Trade Talks – Houselore

Alexandra Jones is the owner of online antiques business Houselore, which sources unusual and unique pieces from historic Antiques dealer Alexandra Jones of Houseloreestates, businesses, theatres, and schools around the world. Alexandra started the business in 2017, and says:
“You’ll be able to see the story behind every piece that I select at Houselore.”

What is the unique appeal of antiques?

Their uniqueness! We live in a world of cheap, mass production. Interacting with and viewing things that have existed before you were born and will probably be around long after, that have a story and have interacted with previous generations, is a very fulfilling experience.

What areas/items are currently selling well?

There’s a buyer for everything, but I find that items with earthy or neutral tones and great textures are selling well. My personal style leans more towards the unusual and macabre, with a darker colour palette.

Which are the ones to watch/future sellers?

I think that as people spend more time in their homes for work and play, a lot more emphasis is going to be put on the idea of ‘Hygge’, creating a comforting and functional space. That probably means more rustic and wooden textures in the kitchen, soft textiles, and decor with neutral colours.

What antiques do you have at home/collect and why?

I am working on building my personal art collection, mostly 17th to 20th-century. Art is a wonderful way to document the evolution of human experience and perception. Plus, it’s nice to look at.

What are your tips for the antiques of tomorrow?

I think that as we grow more technologically advanced and physically distant, nostalgia is going to continue playing a large role in antiques collecting. But equally as important is the quality of the item, and unfortunately most things that are made today are not made to last.

How is the industry changing and are you optimistic for its future?

This actually could be a golden age for the antiques industry. When you’re surrounded by things that are mass-produced and without much character, antique pieces really stand out and make a statement.

Is new technology good for the trade and buyers/collectors?

Absolutely. Social media platforms have given dealers the ability to reach target audiences in a way that storefronts alone never could. It also gives dealers and interior designers or collectors more options to connect and collaborate.

Tell us some trade secrets – what key questions should buyers ask?

I don’t think there’s a magic formula here. I buy with my eye, and I think the most successful dealers do the same. If something catches my eye, or makes me stop in my tracks, then chances are that someone else will find that piece intriguing as well.

What antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?

I’d love to walk into a Scottish castle or French chateau and just have it all. Suits of armour, portraits, strange kitchen appliances. All of it.

You’re down to your last 50 quid – what antiques/art would you buy?

I’d buy a cheap piece of art that I just love to look at.

Where are your favourite hunting grounds – online and off?

Offline, I find most of the items for my shop in the attics and cellars of country houses, theatres, and private houses. Online, I’m loving the new trend of online fairs. Virtual Vintage Fair on Instagram  is my favourite, as they’ve brought together a great collection of new and established dealers.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make (and avoid!)?

I don’t buy anything that I wouldn’t be happy to have in my own home. If you buy what you love and you buy well, you can’t go far wrong.

What do you consider the high point of your career in antiques?

I’m still at the beginning really, I’ve only been in it full time for about three years. I’m enjoying the journey immensely. I meet some incredible characters and I never know what I will find on any given day. As an historian by training, I also really enjoy doing the research to learn about the past of a particular piece.

Are antiques attracting younger buyers and, if not, how can the industry reach out to them?

Absolutely. I think younger buyers are very conscious of supporting eco-friendly and sustainable businesses, and nothing really fits the bill better than the antiques trade.

What advice would you give to people new to antiques who want to learn more?

Talk to the dealers! Ask them about where pieces come from and how they were used, or why they are special. Dealers love to tell stories about their favourite finds and hunting adventures, and you can learn a lot that way.

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