Smoke and Mirrors ~ The Mirage of Falling Prices

Falling PricesAt the moment, we are constantly hearing, particularly from television pundits, that the prices paid for antiques have fallen significantly across the board, in what might be termed the “brown furniture syndrome”. While in empirical terms the bulk of the evidence would appear to support this view, we would caution Collectors against swallowing this half truth without careful examination of the matter.

While it is perfectly true that many of the things in which we ourselves prefer to deal are indeed “out of fashion” at the present time, our own experience would suggest that, where items of quality are concerned, prices have remained stable, and that, even in the face of falling sales volumes, prices in some sectors have if anything continued gently to edge upwards.

How can this be so, and where might one find the reason for this apparent contradiction? The answer in part lies in the fact that, whilst it is undoubtedly the case that auction prices have indeed generally fallen across the board, the principal beneficiaries of this trend have been knowledgeable professional Dealers, actively working within the Antiques Trade, who are, after all, for the most part, the Auctioneers best and most regular clients.

One major factor, which sets the Trade apart from most retail businesses, is that many Dealers trade as much for pleasure as for profit, and tend therefore to take a “long view” where turnover is concerned. This, coupled with an inherent belief in the potential value of their stock such as will be familiar to those who have been trained to sell that most nebulous of products, “Life Assurance”, means that once an item has been purchased, they are content to wait patiently until the right Buyer comes along who is happy to pay the right price, howsoever long that may take. Thus the origin of that other old adage, “Good Stock is better than Money in the Bank”.

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