Something is happening in the antiques world. A groundswell of twittering and facebooking has fuelled an already growing mid-century trend and an increased interest in 'vintage'. Previously when I mentioned the word antiques, some people are inclined to say something disparaging about dark brown furniture. The word antiques means different things to different people though
It can be seen as an old school, out of date love for dark brown furniture from a few generations ago. In fact, high end antiques to the growing number of enthusiasts globally - really means anything that's not brand new, and tends to celebrate high quality craftsmanship. Really good quality furniture, ceramics, glass and jewellery, literally from any era therefore always will be valuable to somebody - because some people will always be motivated by what they think is beautiful.
Beauty though, with everything, is clearly in the eye of the beholder. And with antiques and vintage fashion tends to skip a generation. So what our parents thought was cool, we don't. But the next generation does. So it makes sense that it's now mid century furniture and ceramics that's becoming some of the eyecatching collectibles of our time for interior design trends. Lime greens and oranges typical of the 50s, 60s and 70s, especially in german ceramics, now look very comfortable in a highly contemporary kitchen. It's out with the brown; in with the orange.
That said there is also certainly a movement towards celebrating 'vintage' which has been partially driven by global economic changes. We are no longer in an era of consumerism, buy it now, new and fast. There is more care being taken to preserve the good quality furniture we have, and seek out romantic nostalgia. The romance of glass, and vintage fabrics is explosive. And as a result people are demanding more good quality information on antiques.
Recently I stumbled across several forums and antique collecting communities. They are buzzing - there are people globally on niche sites quietly identifying and showcasing, and quizzing and answering on all manner of antique topics ranging from question on midcentury to toby jugs to lalique. There is a particularly interesting and engaged community of vintage glass experts in various facebook groups.
So finally it seems like it's happening - antiques is not only having some sort of revival and re-invention - it's starting to go digital. We are now seeing with highly trafficked sites like Antiques Diva (Europe's Leading Antiques Touring Company), and MyAntiqueSchool (the new place on the web to study online courses in antiques and collectables) take on the latest trends.
Hang onto your 1960s orange vase... it could be worth something! Not sure about that dark brown coffee table though..
Here are some top tips to investing in antiques - as shared by MyAntiqueSchool tutor, Antiques Roadshow Expert and regular writer Marc Allum:Top Tips for Investing In Antiques:
- Keep your overheads low.
- Buy with skill and accumulated knowledge, seeking out the less obvious but acquiring the unique and the rare while mixing it with the average - the better boosting the lesser, sometimes to great effect.
- Spread your risk through eclecticism.
- Don't follow trends too vehemently - few people really want to put anatomical models in their homes!
- Buy what you like and keep the best - if it's cheap.
- Remember, it's the best in any genre that people really want.
- Don't be scared to let go sometimes, particularly if you've seen another. There will always be other chances.
- Always be polite and always haggle fair.
Antiques Expert, Marc Allum, has also recently launched two new online antiques courses which are booking now:
An Insider's Guide to Building a Well Balanced Art and Antiques Portfolio
Buying Art and Antiques for Interior Design