Monday, June 21, 2010

The rebound

It seems that the market has turned a corner. Over the past several months, we've noticed an uptick in the number of folks at auctions and shows, but more importantly, there seems to be more bidding and buying going on...and the bidding and buying feels less hesitant, even enthusiastic. There are still occasional soft spots, to be sure, but overall, folks seem excited to be buying antiques again.

That, of course, does not mean that we're anywhere close to the market of the 1990s. By now, we all know that was a bubble and the bubble has burst. It may take a long while for prices to get back to those levels, if they ever do (unless driven there by inflation). And even if they do, trends are changing. Furniture, particularly "brown furniture", even if very good, can still be a little hit-or-miss at auction, but "smalls" are still doing well. This is most likely because veteran collectors can always find room for another redware plate or another folk-carved bird, but one can only have so many corner cupboards.

Are you noticing this resurgence where you are??

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Some interesting events coming up in the next 12 months

One of the best parts of collecting, in our minds anyway, is learning. And some of the best places to learn are at museums and conferences. With that in mind, here is a short list of some upcoming events that might be of interest:

Early August: New Orleans Antiques Forum, sponsored by The Historic New Orleans Collection. This year, learn about Creole and Acadian furniture.

February: Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum. In its 63rd year. The 2011 topic: decorative arts forensics...the nuts and bolts of researching this stuff.

March: Winterthur Furniture Forum. This year, it'll highlight the arts and crafts of southeastern Pennsylvania to coincide with a major exhibition and catalog by curators Wendy Cooper and Lisa Minardi.

January-June: exhibition of early Ohio decorative arts at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio. Everything from furniture to glass to samplers from 1788-1860. Check DACO's website for details as they become available.

May: Conference on Midwestern decorative arts (still in development...stay tuned for details).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When did it become all about money??

We've talked about this before, but we are continually confronted with the issue, so we thought it worth putting out there for discussion: at what point did the antiques that people have hunted, loved, and lived with turn into mere dollar signs? More and more, we are talking to folks who tell wonderful stories of their decades of collecting, of getting to the flea market at 4:00 am and finding that great treasure, or nabbing an overlooked gem at auction. But now that it's time to sell their collections, they become rigidly fixated on money. No one ever told them that the antiques they purchased would be worth anything down the road, and back in the day, they wouldn't have cared...they just loved the stuff and wanted to take it home. Now, however, they are convinced that every antique they purchased should be worth at least what they paid for it, and they sometimes get visibly upset if you point out that the market has changed and this object or that object is less desirable, and therefore less valuable, than it was in 1980.

It almost feels like a betrayal. It's like the hippie who spent the 1960s attending anti-war protests and then shows up to his 30-year high reunion having become a corporate lawyer who doesn't know how to recycle. What happened? When did these antiques that you proclaimed your love for become mere commodities? At what point did your passion for history and art turn into a stubborn desire to squeeze every last penny out of your collection? And with that attitude becoming more and more prevalent, are we really surprised that younger folks aren't developing a love for antiques, a passion for living with historical objects??