In Preston, antique desks and Victorian dining chairs are being snapped up for a fraction of their true worth, as buyers with an eye for a bargain cash in on the current slump in antique furniture sales.
The latest AFI (Antique Furniture Index) figures show there has been a steady drop in sales since an all-time high in 2002. Then, antique desks in Preston couldn’t be purchased fast enough. Currently, however, the interest in antique furniture has waned – but what does this really mean for the antiques trade?
Surprisingly, the news is not all bad. It simply reflects the fact that – perhaps due to the influence of TV programs like Bargain Hunt – people are much more aware about what makes a good investment, and what doesn’t. Interior design trends come and go, but Lancashire antique desks bearing the Gillow’s hallmark will always be in demand. This is not reflected in the AFI figures, which use “typical” high street prices, deliberately ignoring events like the Sotheby’s sale, where a Chippendale antique cabinet sold for £3.35m in December – the highest-ever recorded price for a piece of English furniture.
John Andrews, the API’s founder, says two traditionally strong areas – oak and country furniture – have seen a 10 – 12% drop in sales. But this is reflected by the fact that in Cumbria, antique cabinets are just as likely to be displayed in scaled-down new-builds as 18th century mansions – the furniture has to fit.
Andrews also cited a “lack of good examples” – a statement antique dealers are keen to put straight in Preston. Antique desks and Victorian dining chairs of exquisite quality and workmanship can be found wherever good antique dealers trade.
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