In with the old if you want an in­vest­ment you can live with

Prop­erty prices are ris­ing, but fur­nish­ing your home with an­tiques could also be an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

PROP­ERTY prices are ris­ing and buy­ers are clam­our­ing to put their money into bricks and mor­tar, but what’s in­side could also pay div­i­dends if you adopt an “out with the new and in with the old” ap­proach.

The an­tiques trade is show­ing signs of re­vival and now is the time to buy pe­riod and col­lectable home­ware, ac­cord­ing to ex­pert Ju­dith Miller.

“The very top end has been very re­silient through­out the re­ces­sion and high qual­ity items in good con­di­tion with good prove­nance have been break­ing records. Chi­nese Im­pe­rial Ware is achiev­ing world record prices thanks to Chi­nese bil­lion­aires. They are buy­ing it be­cause dur­ing the Mao pe­riod they weren’t al­lowed to know any­thing about their coun­try’s his­tory, so there is a huge amount of in­ter­est.

“In gen­eral though, the busi­ness has been through a very dif­fi­cult pe­riod. Many shops have closed and prices for mid to low end pieces have fallen. This means that it is a very good time to buy, es­pe­cially as the mar­ket looks as though it is start­ing to im­prove,” says Ju­dith, whose lat­est books in­clude a new edi­tion of in­dus­try bi­ble the An­tiques and Col­lecta­bles Hand­book and Price Guide and The An­tiques En­cy­lopae­dia.

“All the in­di­ca­tors point to rein­vig­o­ra­tion and some of the deal­ers who owned shops are now trad­ing online and oth­ers are sell­ing from an­tiques cen­tres. It’s cer­tainly not all doom and gloom.”

If you’re think­ing of in­vest­ing and are on a low bud­get, Ju­dith pre­dicts that un­fash­ion­able brown fur­ni­ture and Vic­to­ri­ana could soon see an up­turn in value.

In­te­rior trends sug­gest that she may be right. The fash­ion for bold pat­terns and or­nate de­signs would cer­tainly sup­port the heavy, dec­o­ra­tive 19th cen­tury style.

“My feel­ing is that the prices have dropped so low that the only way is up, and some of the Vic­to­rian pieces can be very use­ful. You can get a fan­tas­tic, solid ma­hogany chest of draw­ers for less than £200. It will last for­ever and it cer­tainly won’t lose its value, un­like a new set of draw­ers from Ikea.”

Al­though she wouldn’t ad­vise paint­ing a Chippendale chair, she isn’t against a lick of Far­row and Ball or An­nie Sloan.

“I don’t have any prob­lem at all with peo­ple paint­ing old brown fur­ni­ture. It helps pieces fit in with a mod­ern scheme and you can al­ways strip the paint off.”

If you want to play safe with your money, then Art Deco and Arts and Crafts pieces are peren­nial favourites with col­lec­tors. Deco is es­pe­cially fash­ion­able thanks to re­newed in­ter­est in the glam­orous Jazz Age sparked by the re­cent Gatsby film.

Al­though it can be ex­pen­sive, you can get some of the more com­mon Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff pot­tery at very rea­son­able prices , ac­cord­ing to Ju­dith

You could also look out for Art Nou­veau items, which are not as pop­u­lar and there­fore more af­ford­able.

For fur­ni­ture hunters who can’t af­ford Ge­or­gian and who don’t want the large, heavy de­signs, typ­i­cal of the late 19th and early 20th cen­tury, then mid cen­tury mod­ern is an ex­cel­lent era to tar­get.

Fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories from the 50s and 60s look fan­tas­tic in both old and new homes and prices are buoy­ant. Orig­i­nals by Eames and Scan­di­na­vian de­sign­ers like Al­var Aalto and Finn Juhl are much sought-af­ter. A 1950 Tank lounge chair by Aalto is now val­ued at £5,000.

Cheaper, but creep­ing up in value, are Er­col and G Plan pieces. The lat­ter’s dralon, swivel egg chairs sell for be­tween £100 and £300 and Er­col’s peb­ble nests of ta­bles also fetch up to £300.

“Out­stand­ing post Sec­ond World War de­sign has, in many cases, quadru­pled in the last few years. The styles are in tune with younger taste,” says Ju­dith, who is a reg­u­lar ex­pert on the An­tiques Road­show, where she has spot­ted plenty of fakes.

“You have to be wary. Some things were faked as lot, like Lalique glass and Chi­nese pot­tery. If you’re just star­ing out col­lect­ing an­tiques out do lots of re­search. Read books on the sub­ject, visit mu­se­ums, stately homes and ex­hi­bi­tions. If you’re in­ter­ested in ceram­ics go to places like the V&A and learn to spot fac­tory marks. It also helps to buy from a good dealer or auc­tion house.”

Ju­dith is an avid col­lec­tor and at the mo­ment her pas­sions are for pe­riod cos­tume jew­ellery, Chi­nese and English ceram­ics from the 18th cen­tury or be­fore and Monart glass, which as made in Scot­land be­tween 1924 and 1961. She also has a se­ri­ous chair ad­dic­tion.

Al­though she doesn’t buy as much th­ese days, she still loves to shop for a bar­gain.

“Why have money in the bank when in­ter­est rates are so low? It’s far bet­ter to have in­vest it in some­thing you love that’s nice to look at, al­though you have to be aware that an­tiques are a long term in­vest­ment,” she says.

“I buy a bit online but I pre­fer to han­dle things my­self. That’s all part of the ex­pe­ri­ence for me. I love events like An­tiques for Ev­ery­one at the NEC. I found a Royal Worces­ter saucer with a rare man in the moon mark there, which was very ex­cit­ing.

“My best ad­vice would be to buy what you love and you never know.

“We see it on the An­tiques Road­show all the time. Peo­ple buy a vase at a car boot sale for £3 and find out it’s a Moor­croft worth £3,000.”

GO­ING UP: A Finn Juhl teak and leather Chieftain chair de­signed in 1949, val­ued at £3,500; left, a Clarice Cliff Bizarre tea set, val­ued at be­tween £900 and £1,000; cen­tre, a Roy­croft Ali Baba bench with orb and cross mark, val­ued at £6,000; right, a Flight, Barr & Barr Worces­ter teacup and saucer worth £260.

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