Something to Smile About: Antiques Market Improving

Many experts and dealers consider the Winter Antiques Show in NYC to be a barometer of things to come for the rest of the year. The New York Times reports that the results are very positive. The show saw over 22,000 attendees, up over 20% from the 2009 show. Sales, according to dealers in the story were very positive on both the high end and the middle market from the early moments until the very end. The article states that prices were about 25% lower from a year ago. Perhaps the bottom has been hit for the antique trade and decorative arts. Recent fine art sales results have been strong as well.

The slow sales of last year, however, have made dealers’ inventories particularly interesting and full now. And collectors’ reluctance to sell in a weak market has made great pieces scarce, but strong performers when they appear. (There is the relative reassurance of a venerable-looking object as an investment haven, in contrast to a technology stock or bond.)

The antiques market’s eagerness to survive has made prices for much midtier material very attractive. Dealers said prices were generally at least 20 to 30 percent lower than two years ago.

And, as Alan Granby, of Hyland Granby in Hyannis Port, Mass., maritime art and antiques specialists exhibiting at the armory, said, “Midrange things can still be the best in their field.”

Categories that are victims of changes in taste are especially well priced, even for outstanding pieces. The enthusiasm for modern design among younger buyers and the graying of the market for older and formal genres have produced unexpected opportunities in traditional pieces, which typically are too expensive for first-time collectors.

“Collectors are going after A-level material,” John Smiroldo, founder and publisher of Antiques and Fine Art, a bimonthly magazine based in Watertown, Mass., said of the auction and show scenes. “But you can get A-minuses for pennies of what it will be trading for in four or five years. As far as I’m concerned, American furniture is free right now — for killer stuff. And high-style English furniture is down, down, down.”

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search