China is becoming a nation of antique dealers, buying Victorian balloon backed dining chairs and other fine furniture in the UK, to be sold at vastly inflated prices to wealthy Chinese businessmen.
The Beijing Morning Post has reported on a change in the buying habits of the Chinese elite. Rather than priceless Imperial artworks, they have turned their attention to English furniture such as Open Bookcases and antique mahogany pedestal desks . While Lancashire traders have yet to see the kind of bidding wars that took place over Qianlong porcelain a short while ago, there is no doubt that 2012 has marked a new beginning for the British antique furniture trade. But this time it isn’t property billionaires, but canny Chinese dealers who are buying, taking advantage of the current slump in Victorian and Georgian furniture prices to buy in bulk and ship back home to sell for a handsome profit.
Perhaps the London Olympics has a hand to play, but suddenly wealthy Asian citizens can’t get enough of Victorian dining chairs and antique oak pedestal desks . In Cumbria, an antique bookcase might sell for £1,000 in a showroom. In Beijing, such a piece auctioned for £16,000. A Victorian antique cabinet realised 28 times its original purchase price, while £500 nursing chairs were realising upwards of £2,400.
One reason things like antique marquetry furniture appeal to the buyers is the similarity to classical Chinese furniture. It appears things have gone full circle. Browse the antique dealers of Preston, and the antique cabinets often have a whiff of the oriental about them. Numerous English furniture designers were inspired by the East – not least, Robert Gillow.
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