I am not actually in the market for some new furniture at the moment – although the sofa could do with repair work – but I do enjoy scanning down auction house website catalogues every so often.
When clicking though auctions for domestic interiors though, I have sometimes been surprised not just how expensive some antiques can be, but also how comparatively cheap some can be.
As a long-term watcher of Antique’s Roadshow, I know that for some reason, tables seem to be shockingly expensive for what they are. I presume this is due to rarity, as not many families would have space for, let alone be able to afford a dining table 150+ years ago.
The same for simple looking kitchen chairs. Again I am guessing that the rickey old kitchen chair got thrown on the bonfire rather than restored after its 500th accident, so rarity adds value.
However, counterbalancing that is the seemingly good value that sofa chairs seem to offer.
Accepting that not everyone wants a chair that looks like the sort of thing your granny perpetually sat in when you were a tiny kid – but I often see chairs that could almost be modern – and at prices not that different from the high street. Oddly, actual modern chairs sold at auction are very expensive, because of the designer label.
I sometimes wonder if the people shopping in Ikea or John Lewis realise that they could buy a Victorian or even Georgian era chair for a price comparable to what they are paying for a good modern version?
I think that given the choice between a modern bit of mass production furniture and paying maybe 10% more to get something that looks comparable, but is over 100 years old, then I think I would prefer the older item.
The downside is that you can spend ages waiting for just the right item to come up for sale – then get outbid by another buyer. Then again, it took me over two months to buy my current sofa as it was perpetually out of stock and no other shops sold anything I liked.
I wonder how much cheaper items would be at house-clearance type sales as opposed to the rarefied airs of Christie’s as the items above are from.