29 April 2010

Investing in antiques successfully: ten tips

You can’t go far wrong. Unlike most new furniture, antiques will hold their value in both the short and long terms and will give you the added bonus of visual pleasure if you keep them at home.

But investing successfully in antique furniture is not so simple. And you can go badly wrong if you don’t follow some basic guidelines.

  1. Do your homework. Talk to successul antiques dealers and read appropriate magazines and publications. You will start to become aware of patterns in supply and demand, as well as refining your own taste.
  2. Trust your instincts. An antique can pack an emotional punch and if it connects with you it probably has something special about it. But don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
  3. Consider the relationships between the pieces you buy. For example, highly successful investment properties have been created in the past by enthusiasts for 18th century English oak and walnut. There’s no need to be so specialist, but a cohesive grouping will have more value than an overly eclectic combination, and a good collection sale can yield higher returns than a series of individual sales.
  4. Age confers value, and the oldest pieces will always be the most sought after. In the 1920s people could still buy William and Mary or Queen Anne English pieces. Now they are almost out of reach. The supply of antiques is finite, so buy early antiques if you can.
  5. Quality is a key factor. Outstanding craftsmanship and fine materials like beautifully aged walnut, oak and elm will enhance value. Signature pieces by renowned 18th and 19th century French and English cabinetmakers are few and far between, but never stop looking for them.
  6. Think simple. Classic lines tend to avoid the vagaries of fashion more successfully than exotic creations.
  7. But remember, eccentric rarities can occasionally have an unexpectedly high value. Again, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of antiques with unusual character.
  8. Don’t make low price a determining factor. Always buy the best you can afford. It will pay off in the end.
  9. Buy from people whose taste and judgement you respect.
  10. Keep your investments at home. Sit on them, eat off them, look at them. The pleasure is an immediate and ongoing reward. And if you have too many investments, just keep rotating them!

Put my rules to the test – come to Brownrigg!