Antiques the future of? A subject that has been commented on by many illustrious Journalists and knowledgeable persons at least as far back as the 1990’s and perhaps earlier. I am in no position of strength to add or debate the intricacies of but as a new boy on the block owning an Antique’s shop and wanting to get my own reassurance as to whether I have made a wise choice or not here are some thoughts (some of which have been clarified by a bit of reading of other people’s commentary).
- I get reassurance (given my preference to have decided on furniture as my major focus) from Customers commenting on how beautiful the furnishings are and how nice it is to see good high end “antiques” in my shop here in Waihi. I use the word antique in a loose way as in my mind it needs to be re interpreted as not necessarily having to be something made prior to 1830 but it is more about the relevancy of items in today’s market.
- Collecting is not dead and never likely to be – as one writer said it is more about what gets collected.
- Middle of the road “Brown Furniture” is dead and buried and the demand is for white and minimalist furnishings! Consider this point though – the carbon footprint (a much debated and hot topic a few years ago though it seems to have quietened down with today’s Press for the time being at least). It is said that an Antique chest of drawers made 100 years ago has a carbon footprint 16 times smaller than an equivalent piece made today. If I may follow on from that and say the quality of an item constructed 100 years ago is more likely to still be here in another 100 years than its equivalent made today (in my humble opinion). There is brown and there is brown – the quality and uniqueness will often determine the desirability.
- The value of antiques as an investment has decreased in real terms as compared to other investments – I think that’s a yes in many instances and a no in other instances. “A bit of flash” and a high end piece of furniture will still increase in value and even more so as the supply side reduces. I like to think I have got mostly those bits of flash but I do know that I also have a bit of the other (and have priced it accordingly – and will try not to get any more!).
- The number of antique shops the world over has significantly decreased due in part to high rental situations, fashion changes and ageing store owners who have gone onto the pension (or worse). It does not seem, from my initial observations, that antiques are a career path for today’s young venturer. So I take some solace in the possibility I might be the last man standing and then you rat-bags you’ll be sorry you didn’t get in earlier and buy that Louis XV French commode or that beautiful 1900 French marble credence!
- Comments such as “I have a modern house”, “I only have a small house now” QED “I cannot do Antique furniture” are understandable but arguably flawed in their logic (whoohoo that might get anybody interested enough to read this article and who has that “small, modern” going). Yes space might be a valid reason but not every antique is big or bigger than its modern replacement and old and new can meld together very nicely thank you. Look upon is as an older man and a younger woman cohabiting – in a lot of cases that works!? And yeah if it doesn’t work you can always get rid of it (or him) without too much loss.
- I think supply and demand will continue to keep quality furnishings up there and in my business I will have 1950 – 1970 items in my inventory as they are welcome to sit alongside that 1890 set of French chairs or that antique Portuguese dresser. One offs with beauty, quality and/or character will always stay in demand – is that me or you?
- Price comparisons are an intriguing subject – I get the impression that people think all antiques are expensive but if anyone bothered to compare new to old it’s interesting though not conclusive. New chair prices do vary depending on the quality obviously – I have looked at a set of 6 at $500 each and there was another set at $940 each (and yes there were some at $149 each etc) from a reputable Furnishings Shop. I have set of 6 genuine leather Spanish chairs from the 1940’s priced at $490 each and they are great quality.
- Don’t forget “Antiques remind us of what life was like in the past and who we are now” (and where we might be in the future?) is a quote I think hits right on the button.
So have I salved my worry and have I done good? Time will tell but I do lie straight in bed at night and sleep just fine.
Thanks for taking the time to read this – hope you are having a good day.
Robin Kendrick – Antique Furnishings in Waihi.