We’re often asked to give our opinion of what items are selling well in today’s economy, and the answer is the same as it always has been…quality, my dear.
The economy has simply amplified a trend that began around the time of the new millennium. In a post a couple months back, I spoke about the changing tastes and desires of today’s secondary-market buyers, so we’ll not re-hash that story; please visit that dialogue if you wish that insight.
Whether it is art, jewelry, oriental rugs, furniture or decorative arts, today’s buyer seeks quality over quantity, and is willing to pay a fair, and sometimes more than anticipated, price if an item becomes available that fits their self-described criteria of quality and desirability.
Using the economy to explain soft prices for middle-of-the-road items is appropriate ; buyers are not going to part with their money these days for something that is not exactly what they’re looking for. Anticipating a rebound in prices for mid-level items in any category of art, antiques or collectibles is, in my opinion, unfounded.
I do not see a new demographic of buyers emerging who will fill the void of mid-market buyers as relates to the aforementioned categories. In other words, holding on to grandmother’s Hummel collection in anticipation of higher prices is unlikely to result in increasing demand, and thus, profit.
Therefore, if anyone is considering selling an item or items in today’s world, be advised that the gap in prices between the top tier in any category and the middle tier of items in that category is widening. It has been widening for years, and will likely continue to do so. As we have always counseled our clients, the best time to sell something is when you are ready to sell. But be prepared that if you’re ready to sell the average item, know that it is going to sell for less-than-average prices, and the best of the best will still garner all the attention from the market, as it always will.