While Imperial artworks are beyond the reach of some buyers in Lancashire, antique desks are a different matter. The Annual Furniture Index for 2010 reveals a sharp downturn in sales of furniture such as antique cabinets. In Preston, antique dealers are counting the cost – but for collectors, it could be a bonanza.
The Annual Furniture Index (AFI) is published yearly by the Antique Collectors’ Club. A long-term project started by antiques expert John Andrews in 1968, it is calculated from the auction and retail prices of 1400 typical pieces of antique furniture – in other words, antique desks at Preston prices, rather than those of Bond Street and Bloomsbury. The selection is made from seven different categories as laid out in Andrews’ monumental book, “British Antique Furniture: Price Guide and Reasons for Value”, which has become a touchstone of the antiques trade.
By using typical, rather than exceptional furniture prices, the AFI gives a true reflection of the state of the British antique furniture market, which is currently suffering a slump. Prices fell by 8% in 2010, the index dropping from 2736 to 2505 points (from the arbitrary 100 points established in 1968.)
However, this must be taken in context. Since the index was established, there has been a steady pattern of peaks and troughs – with the API reaching an all-time high of 3575 in 2002. At this time, unprecedented prices were being asked even for modest Victorian dining chairs in Cumbria.
Antique dealers in Preston have antique desks of extremely high quality, currently at very affordable prices. The news from LAPADA is that, indexes notwithstanding, we’re about to see a return to pre-2003 levels. Now is the time to buy.
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