Founder's Letter

The Right Time to Buy

By: Julie Garrett VanDolen • Apr 02, 2010 • 0 Comments

This month we’re talking about the investment benefits of antiques. Given this morning’s optimistic economic news, the timing couldn’t be better.

The first thing you should know is that the world of antiques tends to be more buttoned-down than you might at first think. More than 40 years ago, the American Collectors Club (ACC) started tracking the retail prices of seven different furniture categories. Now you can track prices on a daily basis on the Artnet.com price database. 

Overall, even with fluctuations in the ACC index, the antiques market has stayed pretty steady, especially in comparison to other market averages and indices.

Wall Street bonuses hit record levels in the first quarter of the year and the Dow Industrial Average is hovering at about 11,000. People are looking around for unexpected places to put their money. The market for art is strong and getting stronger. The market for Asian art and antiques is wild. Everywhere I look, I see signs of recovery. That’s why I think it is a good time for you to start investing in fine period antiques for your home, for your future.

In recent years, people you would never suspect of selling off the family treasures have actually been saved by them. For example, in 2003, Firebond, a Louisiana concrete manufacturer with slightly fewer than 500 employees, hit the wall. To kick-start the company, the proprietors’ family sold its antique European paintings. While final figures were not disclosed, suffice to say the company is doing fine.

For you sports fans, here’s another case in point. Financier Red McCombs, of McCombs Automotive, Clear Channel Communications and former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings, collects “almost anything that is old and has a story to it.”  He commented on a CNBC report last year, “I don’t buy to resell, but on the other hand I have never bought anything that I thought wouldn’t increase in value on a relative basis.”  McCombs added that he also had the joy of looking at them.

And isn’t the joy of having a unique item imbued with grace and fine workmanship the real reason for buying items from the past?

By now, everyone over the age of ten has learned from the Antiques Roadshow that there’s value in antiques. Unfortunately, the items the show spotlights are the results of slap-dash purchasing, family succession and uneducated guessing. With just a little knowledge and a good eye, the furniture and decorative art you want now and buy now will yield dividends in the future. 

If you follow Latique Magazine, you’ll discover things you never knew about buying antiques. You’ll see that it truly is best to buy what you like. It is also a good idea to buy the best you can afford at the time. And, always work with a dealer you can build a good relationship with.

This month, we will take you to New Orleans, a port city with a lot of great buys in antiques and fine period art.  If you think you know everything there is to know about the Big Easy, you have never been there in the daytime, when the French Quarter shops are open.

You will also meet Willson Powell, an interior designer with a lot to say about how and where to start decorating your home. He even tackles the big issue of how to strike a compromise about something she likes but he hates.

The blogs come from inside the trade. Primarily directed toward dealers, they offer buyers transparency into what dealers really worry and talk about. 

As always, we welcome your comments on all the topics in Latique Magazine and, of course, on the antiques and decorative arts featured here as well.

Enjoy.