The New York Times has blasted reality TV antiques shows, saying that while the antique chests, Victorian dining chairs and other collectibles may be real enough, the rest of the show is fake, bearing little relationship to the way antiques transactions are conducted in real life.
Antiques TV has become big business on both sides of the Atlantic, with the US following our lead on successful programmes like Antiques Roadshow and Dickinson’s Real Deal by developing their own versions. The result is that both British and American TV schedules are inundated with shows depicting “real” auction trading taking place. However, anyone in Lancashire with an antique desk to sell should be aware that the reality can be different to that shown on screen.
The New York Times article first describes a typical US show – The Great Big American Auction – which sounds as flashy and hyped up as you’d imagine. It’s hard to imagine an antique chest in Cumbria being auctioned off for more than the buyer paid for it – unless it’s because the price was “haggled” down to an acceptable value, in exchange for some free advertising for the dealer.
The Times also turns the spotlight on Real Deal which, like the British show, involves dealers making offers on objects brought in for evaluation. Much is made of the fanning out of notes on a poker table – nothing about basic industry practices such as auction room premiums.
If you want to sell an antique desk in Lancashire , forget what you see on TV and go by what a local antique dealer tells you instead.
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