Following our January, 2011, auction of art, antiques and decorative arts, many of us, staff and customers, wondered if the increased bidding, attendance and prices realized were just a ‘hiccup’ of market conditions, or indicative of a trend.
Our February 19 auction seemed to confirm that there is a noticeable increase in demand for quality antiques and decorative arts. Our assertion is based on a higher-than-normal number of new bidder registrations, and better than average online page views via our catalogues posted to both our site and to our live bidding facilitator, Live Auctioneers.
A noticeable difference in bidding results showed that onsite bidders (bidders in our gallery during the auction) purchased a higher percentage of the items than their online, live bidding counterparts. The percentage of winning bidders via Live Auctioneers was reduced by 5.2%, based on an average of the last six month’s totals. We attribute this change to a surge in local buyer interest, again, illustrated by the number of onsite, first-time registrations to our auctions.
Of the categories which have suffered significantly over the last 5 years, mid-level antique furniture (items formerly selling between $500 and $2500), had taken a large reduction in sale prices. These items have been, and remain, a tremendous value when compared to the poor quality seen in new decorator furnishings. Perhaps the public is beginning to recognize that the high-end name brand furnishings have all suffered in quality in the last ten years, while their pricing remained consistent with the quality previously offered. Maybe, just maybe, the public is beginning to explore the option of vintage and antique furniture, given the solid wood, handmade, high quality of most pieces, as an alternative to pressed wood and laminate.
Further verification of an increasing market was told to me secondhand; a friend who exhibited at the Miami Beach Antique Show (one of the largest in this country) in early February shared that he thought the show was a raving success. He sold every single item he took to sell, and commented that the attendance was excellent, and that several dealers were extremely pleased with their sales.
Our market commentary through the change in buyer demographics and the effect of the down economy, has been that the best quality items have, and will continue to find, a receptive market, no matter the category- art, rugs, jewelry, decorative arts or furniture.
We are often asked, “When is the best time to sell?” The answer is qualified by what the client is offering for sale. As we have seen over and over, if the item to be sold is properly marketed, represents a very high quality and is exposed to the correct market, the date of the offering is of little consequence. Today’s buyer/collector wants the best quality they can find, whenever they can find it, and the accumulative nature of the previous generations’ collectors no longer defines or influences today’s market.
However, based on our buyer responses to the last two auctions’ content of better quality furniture, art and decorative arts, the best time to sell may be right now.