Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a Buy for High Quality Antique Furniture

The prices of high quality paintings, pottery and art glass are on a tear. So I got to thinking, if this is so, there’s probably something out there dragging its feet in these markets. Turns out, it’s good antique furniture.

I thought the days of me hauling around chests, tables and chairs where over at my age, but the high quality pieces are a real bargain right now, I may have to reconsider. In fact, I have told you before that if an item was larger than a bread box, I wasn't very interested, but I may have to eat my words today.

The more auctions and estate sales I attend the more I am sure that there is big money to be made in antique and collectible furniture today. I’ve seen high quality furniture selling cheaper than I can believe. At an auction I attended last week, I saw a beautiful empire chest made of tiger maple sell for a mere $200.

Why this sudden reversal? In my opinion, we live in a disposable society. The days of the ancestral home are disappearing for many people. Families move around from home to home every few years, and family members divide up moving to other states and even other countries, disposing of furniture along the way and buying new "disposable furniture" to fit their new home. But, there will always be those who will be seeking high quality antique furniture.

In the markets I’m attending, I see early chests selling for $100 to $200 when a few years ago they would have brought $1000 or more. The same with antique tables I would have loved to have purchase ten years ago for $500, now are bringing in only $150 at auction.

Over twenty years ago, I bought a wonderful Armoire for $750 and sold it almost before I got it home for $3500. It was heavily carved with burl walnut panels. I’ve purchased a lot of furniture over the years, but I mention this one today because last week when I was in Owensboro Kentucky, I saw a pieced that was almost identical to this one, priced at $650. That’s just the asking price, and I’m certain I could’ve bought it for $500. It’s still beautiful, and I know even in this disposable society, there's still someone today who would pay $3000 or more to own a high quality piece like this.

If the market for general mid to lower end antiques and furniture isn't moving, this trend doesn't necessarily hold true in the high end markets. For the highest quality antiques and art, including furniture, there's always a market.

At the 31 Club, we keep our sights on high quality and rare items. And, our job is to buy right.

Well, furniture can be bought right today. Maybe we shouldn't wait any longer to take advantage of this under priced market. I know the rest of the market will be trailing us as we look into this dramatic change. By the time they realize what we are doing, it will be too late for them to catch up.

Yes, there are disadvantages to dealing in furniture, but like any other market, if the price gets low enough, it’s time for us to step in. We need to re-inform the public that today’s furniture is still mostly plastic or made of composition materials. Most of these pieces will last about two years or three years while hand made antiques have lasted over 100 years. If you’re up to the task of handling furniture, now is the time to make some serious money with the truly high quality pieces.

If I do decide to take the plunge and tip my toe back into the pool of the furniture market, I’ll have to figure out how to transport the items and where to store these fine pieces. I can tell you this -- the storage companies are begging for tenants, so a ten foot space will cost you about $100 a month, and the first month is usually free. That gives you time to make a profit to offset the expense.

I will be more than glad to answer any questions that you may have on
furniture, and soon we will have an expert on our "31 Club Panel of Experts"
for you to call.

Today's Photo: This French period antique double "Chapeau de Gendarme" armoire made of walnut and secondary woods sold on eBay for $15,000. It had hand carved decorative motifs-signed by cabinet maker on center front: 1786 Joseph Bertin.

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  1. It's important also to have a good source for restoring the antiques you purchase. I know small flaws can make a difference in the value and esthetics of a piece, and larger ones can be downright dangerous (I had a client get dropped on the floor when a chair collapsed!) I've found an excellent restorer at Tarrytown Woodworks, just a few miles north of NYC. They're hard to find!!

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