The changing antiques market

I’ve been pondering the changing nature of the antiques business. After 35 years, I have the luxury of being able to stand back and look dispassionately at the changes.

One of the major changes I’ve noticed is that there are fewer collectors today. That hasn’t necessarily hurt the value of antiques, as many people are still decorating with antiques. I meet people at shows who have a spot for a lamp or a vase or a painting and then they’re finished. Previously I encountered many more people who were looking to accumulate collections.

Daum winter scenic bowl

Daum winter scenic bowl

A lady from Florida wanted only to collect Daum winter scenes. She would see me at a show and ask me if I had any new shapes. She would only buy from me if I had a vase in a shape she didn’t have. By the time she finished, she had collected 72 different Daum winter scenic vases and lamps. It was quite an impressive collection.

Sam Maloof furniture from a 2006 exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art

Sam Maloof furniture from a 2006 exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art

Another big change has to do with what is collectible today — and that’s constantly changing as time goes by. For example, most Victorian glass has gone down in value, as there are fewer collectors today. Just on the face of it, it seems that when certain antiques get “too old”, interest in them lessens. Maybe people want to collect items from their childhoods or their parent’s or grandparent’s childhoods. Older than that and the items are unfamiliar. Modernism has become more and more popular as the years go by. The collectors are mostly younger and the items they like are no older than from the ’50s, and much of it is much newer. For example, Sam Maloof furniture is highly collectible. Sam was making furniture until his death in May, 2009.

So what will happen as time passes? I wish I had the answer. I do know that whatever happens is not inevitable. Publicity can work wonders. After a traveling exhibition in the 1980s in Japan of the works of Louis Icart, interest in Japan soared. So how about a few important exhibitions for Tiffany or French cameo glass? I’d love to see some.

What’s your opinion? Please post comments.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website.

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