Cumbrian antique dealers have seen a dramatic improvement in sales of Georgian and Victorian furniture, thanks to the new found interest in British culture by the Chinese.
China’s antique collectors are best known for the astronomical prices they pay to see Chinese porcelain and other Imperial relics returned to their homeland. But recently there has been a sudden switch in interest towards British “brown” furniture such as Victorian oak partners desks .
Lancashire auctioneers have seen a distinct reticence among Chinese buyers to pay over the odds for Imperial artefacts in recent months. Instead, the interest has shifted towards the Victorian dining chairs and antique marquetry furniture gathering dust in their warehouses. Their keenness is reflected in the number prepared to make the journey to bid in person; since the start of 2012 there has been a 20-fold increase in the number of Chinese travellers flying to the UK specifically to bid at auction. Not for Qianlong vases, but for Victorian dining chairs and other English furniture which is being shipped to the Far East by the crate load for up to 30 times the auctioneer’s estimate.
UK antique furniture sales are still recovering from a 10-year slump, caused largely by a loss of interest from the American market. This sudden interest from the Far East is just the boost antique dealers in hard-pressed areas like the Ribble Valley have been looking for. The message is clear – buy that antique dining table before prices rise to match those of London.
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