A piece of antique furniture made of wood has just created a new world record for English furniture at auction. What furniture should you invest in?
Recession what recession? An ornate chest of drawers fetched nearly £3.8 million pounds or almost $6million this week (December 7th, 2010). Sotheby’s auction house in London sold the Harrington Commode from 1770, which was almost certainly crafted by Thomas Chippendale. It set a new world record for any piece of English antique furniture at auction, beating the previous record by over a £1million.
What to buy
Whether you are buying office furniture, bedroom furniture or dining room furniture, all the experts agree that if you buy quality items, they will always be desirable, and can make a fantastic investment. Quality and original are the keys. If you go to a regional auction house when their furniture sale is on, or look in antique shops, there is plenty of antique wooden furniture going relatively cheaply. The reason is that many of these are mass produced Victorian copies of Georgian furniture. That Sotheby’s Chippendale commode was an original Georgian piece of furniture exquisitely made. Of course, this end of the market is more like works of art than functional furniture. You’re not going to put your cup of coffee down on that chest of drawers!
Antique Furniture or Contemporary furniture?
If you’re buying furniture for your own home or office then antique might not fit in with your interiors, that doesn’t mean that you can’t therefore buy furniture that could prove to be a good investment. Scandinavian and Italian furniture from the 1930s and 50s has been on the rise for some time. Ikea’s success in reproducing these is evidence of their popularity. The original furniture has a modern designer look and so could fit in far better with a contemporary style whilst also providing a good bet for increasing in value. Some of the top designers are Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer and Charles Eames.
You don’t have to buy a piece of furniture from an auction house or dealer, why not get in at the start? There are some great furniture designers producing beautiful works at this very moment who could be the Chippendales of the future. Of course, it’s difficult to know who will hold their value and who won’t, but the basic rules are that your piece of furniture must be very well made and be a design that stands out, something that has a style all of its own. View the furniture maker more as an artist than a simple carpenter.
Will it rise in value?
The advantage you’ll always have with investing in furniture is that you can enjoy it far more than you would a share certificate. However, remember that it’s unlikely to be a short-term investment, think medium to long term if you want values to increase. Fashions come and go like waves, and if you can wait till the next crest, you’re far more likely to get a good return than trying to sell when that style is in a dip.