Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Antiques, collectibles and the recession (1)

Where has he been for the last year? "Busy of course", he says scratching one of his ears. "I have had a couple of websites to sort out, making videos and various design projects. But now I am back, especially now times are hard". He is going to start with a series of thoughts about the recession. It goes without saying times are tough. This comes on top of a general malaise in the antique business. He is in a very outgoing mood, it is the cider and chocolate, I've told him they don't mix, but there you have it. Of course buy what you like, now more than ever.

1. He wants to get across a simple message. It is the same for both dealers and collectors, he thinks. He's said it before and he'll say it again. Quality sells. That does not mean expensive he says, but one of the best examples of the type.

This was a very competitively priced Parian Copeland bust by Hale. It is a neglected collecting area. You can pick up quality pieces at small fairs, something that has been difficult for sometime. But now these pieces are emerging

2. He does not think the collectible market is finished either. "Rarity matters.", so for example if your area is Beswick figures, then go for the special; he particularly fancies the the 'Banded Angus' for example. Or like a Beswick mouse, I say joking. He sniffs derisorily. "If you're a collector take this chance to grab the special pieces." That's easy to say, but with such uncertain times is it wise. "Well it is a matter of judgement and personal economics of course" he concedes. "But if you are brave, you have a unique opportunity to pick-up those items which will become unreachable, and all too soon".

This came from a classy car boot sale. Ayrshire Ch. Whitehill Mandate is a beautifully figured piece from a very knowledgeable dealer. Some real life livestock prices are healthy at the moment. This price strength is often reflected in the market strength of antiques with a rural link. Long live our farmers, the country's lifeblood.

3. Mouse is in full flow now, "and the beautiful and the ugly". He continues "Beautiful things will always perform regardless of fashion, I am with William Morris on this" he says with a wink. But what about the ugly I foolishly ask, "Some things are so beautifully ugly that there will always be a home for them".

The Cheshire Cat. Beautiful, ugly or beautifully ugly? Dated from 1911, she's a cat that is a friend to Mouse, a rarity indeed.

4. "We should all recognize the challenges, so collectors leave dealers some profit or they won't be there next week. And dealers lets get the stock flowing by competitive pricing." Not easy I say to Mouse.

His attention is wandering, "perhaps it's a good a time to buy shares in UK banks too" he mumbles. Is Mouse crazy? Not usually...