Now is a good time to buy! Antique furniture is cheaper in real terms than it has been for many years. It is often the same price, or cheaper, than a modern piece which is worth next to nothing by the time you get it home.
There are several reasons for buying antique furniture: it is much better quality, and it holds or increases its value. Antique furniture has generally been undervalued in relation to other arts, so if you’re buying something you love that is in good condition, the chances are it will be a good investment.
How to go about buying antique furniture? Firstly, and most importantly, only buy pieces you like: you will be living with them and enjoying them everyday! Trust your instincts and your “eye”, which will become more skilled with practise: stand back and look at the proportions – does it “stand” well? Examine the finish or “patina”: has it been sanded down and repolished, which would devalue the piece to some extent. Are there any loose joints or veneers?
Where to buy? Quality antique fairs, auction houses and specialist antique dealers are the best sources. Don’t forget, when buying at auction, that they add from 18% to 24% buyers premium to your bid, plus 20% VAT! There is also no guarantee that what you’re buying is what it pretends to be – does the top belong to the base, has it been cut down, is there woodworm under the upholstery?
If you buy from a dealer who is a member of LAPADA [The London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association], you will have peace of mind: members adhere to a strict Code of Practise, ensuring accurate descriptions and proper documentation of any restoration work.
This Georgian linen press is a good example: hand made and nearly 200 years old, it is useful as well as beautiful – it has the clean, simple lines of pieces from this period, and costs no more than having a built-in wardrobe made for your bedroom!