The Financial Times looks at the effects of changing tastes on the market for antiques. Overall they’re down meaningfully by 28% over the last decade. But for some categories the drop has been nearly catastrophic:
English pieces from the Regency period and the 18th century are worth 30 per cent less than 10 years ago and French 18th-century furniture has halved in value over the same period. Worst of all, the most recent figures from the Antique Collectors’ Club reveal Victorian and Edwardian furniture have lost more than two-thirds of their value since 2003.
The paper went on to speak with Georgian furniture dealer Patrick Sandberg:
There is still a market for opulent inlays and towering armoires in today’s homes, but it has shrunk. “Even when houses are decorated in this bald, beige way, they will buy antiques — maybe one or two signature pieces,” says Sandberg. “And, for better or worse, we find ourselves selling via interior decorators because some clients feel more comfortable (because they don’t know what they’re doing) with a decorator (who probably doesn’t know what they’re doing either).”
The changing face of London’s wealthy may have also had an impact. Cash-rich Londoners from the Middle East and Asia are less interested in traditional décor. Sandberg’s customers remain mainly English and American (and even the latter became less enthusiastic “when they stopped coming over after 9/11”).
“We get the Saudis in and we get the Chinese in,” he explains, “but the Chinese still don’t understand good Georgian furniture. That’s the way it is. I have done business with several Al Thanis [Qatar’s ruling family], too. They’re very charming and they do understand it, but they would be looking for more Victorian, gilt-mounted, inlaid stuff. I will have a really good 18th-century bookshelf … but they like a bit of flash.
“We’re a traditional shop and we stick to our guns and make a living.”