London was the place to shop for Art and Antiques in June and early July, but it is now nearly the end of term, and collectors and dealers are packing their bags to leave London to the Olympics. so how was it for the Antiques business, what trends can be seen in the patterns of buying. are we in double dip territory or are there green shoots of recovery.
Olympia was the first big event, and despite coinciding with Half Term and the Queens Jubilee holiday plenty of antiques enthusiasts visited. by the end of the show the gate was almost the same as last year, but sales were not as buoyant as last year. As usual some did well, and it did seem that those selling traditional antiques did better than those dealing in 20th century decorative arts, a change from recent years.
The feel of the fair was very good, the lay out beautiful without being intimidating, and dealers as usual were charming approachable and informative. One of my young colleagues fresh out of university where she had studied history of art, told me that she had loved spending a day there, being able to talk to experts in so many different fields. she was also amazed at how she was encouraged to handle even very expensive pieces…such a different experience to wandering round a hushed museum with a professor. I am convinced that at least in part due to that experience she will one day become a collector, or even..dare I say it ..a dealer!
The Art and Antiques London venue opposite the Albert hall is beautiful, and the small band of dealers who do this show all seem to love it. It is subtly different in feel to Olympia, as it is aimed at collectors rather than house furnishers. the porcelains, silver, pictures and jewellery here are aimed at the already converted, people who already understand what they are looking at, and are forming collections. in these economic times, the collectors markets are doing well, as people of even quite modest means seek alternative investments that might provide better returns than leaving the money in the bank. Actually they are also discovering that collecting is fun…seriously it is! Spread the word. As a result many of the dealers at this show did well
Then we come to Masterpiece. this fantastic spectacle now in it’s third year has finally come of age. it was mounted with more confidence this year, almost with a swagger! The location on the Chelsea Flower show site is a real land mark, and the ‘tent’ looks more like Downton Abbey than a Marquee. Inside are some truly beautiful objects, and whilst the prices may seem enormous compared with tags at Olympia, when compared to the results at some of Sotheby’s and Christies top auctions held concurrently they were actually justifiable.
The very wealthy have finally got the message that if you are going to buy in any sector, you really should buy the best you can. as a result the top dealers all did amazingly well selling beautiful things to beautiful people. Notable were the dealers in fine furniture, and also ‘golden age’ early English clocks. Investment potential was again a driver here, and it is worth thinking about how few serious buyers are needed to drive prices up in a small segment of the market like this.
So what have I learned?
There are investment buyers, there are some new collectors, there are people who appreciate beautiful old things, we experts do have a role to play! Hang on in there.
Very best wishes,
To read more about this Summer’s Bloomsbury Art Fair please click here
To read more about this Summer’s New Designers Fair please click here