Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board – Almost

by John Werry on July 25, 2008

jockey scale chair 275x300 Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board   Almost

As regular visitors to this site are aware, I’ve been watching the health of the Victorian antique market recently for concrete examples of this trend and I thought I’d take another quick glance at some fresh auction results that speak to the decline that we’ve been seeing lately.

I’ll open by saying all is not in the dumps.  There is money still out there aggressively chasing select items, but I can tell you that there is no distinct pattern that we can extract.  Items such as the late English Victorian Jockey Scale armchair shown at the top of the page surprised me as it reached $10,000 via 25 bids.  Were you to remove the scale looking something like an antique sewing machine fastened to the side, the chair is fairly unremarkable itself.

Some items are seeing better prices than from only a few months ago, so the market is certainly schizophrenic.  This Laminated Rosewood bed by John H Belter saw a $19,000 price tag in February but a comparable bed recently fetched $29,000 at auction.  While the overall trend is down, a confluence of buyers at any moment in time can drive bidding up.

john henry belter bed 300x228 Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board   Almost

I was recently left a bit queasy by the $1,500 that this cabinet fetched at auction.  Months ago, in a stronger market, this cabinet would have fetched $4,500 to $6,000.

0371 1 lg1 300x243 Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board   Almost

Pieces by J & JW Meeks appear to be caught in a time-warp, fetching near their usual pricing as if they are in a different market altogether.  This Meeks “Hawkins” pattern Rococo chair recently fetched $5,000, albeit at the low end of the range.

meeks hawkins 215x300 Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board   Almost

I recommend that you pick up a copy of this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal or read the article here on the state of the antiques market, in general.  Aside from being an interesting article which addresses the broader antique market and not just the niche that we favor on this site, RareVictorian.com is also mentioned.

The article’s premise is that due to shifting tastes and economic pressure on consumers it is creating quite the buyers market for antiques.  I, for one, have been taking advantage of it whether my budget should be allowing me or not.

I was the recent high-bidder on this 3-piece Egyptian Revival set by Pottier & Stymus with marked mounts bearing “P&S” to confirm their maker.  It also appears they may have their original upholstery and purportedly came out of a famous Tarrytown castle formerly known as Carrollcliffe but known today as Equus.  I’ve never been so excited in my 4 years of collecting and will be picking them up tonight.

egyptian revival pottier stymus Antiques Hit Hard Across The Board   Almost

As I have captured the process of my recent Merklen Brothers restoration in high-definition video, stay tuned in the months ahead for the journey of restoring these Pottier & Stymus chairs captured in another video series on this site.

There is no recent auction activity on this fairly well-known chair design so I can’t compare the price I paid to “typical” auction levels, though I can compare it to retail levels of other comparable Egyptian Revival sets by P&S at $29,500.

As you can see, I am availing myself to the current pricing trends and will probably be curbing my sales in the meantime.

If you’re interested in following along in my journey to research and educate myself in the world of Victorian antiques, you can be notified of new articles automatically by submitting your email address here. If you prefer viewing blogs in RSS readers, the link is at the top right of the page.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Woodwright July 25, 2008 at 9:36 am

Congratulations on the marked P&S set. Some repairs needed – but a very nice & unique set. A nice addition to your collection. I have read your bio and you mentioned here that you have only been collecting for four years – which is surprising to me. Most people begin collecting with the common, ordinary (inexpensive/ affordable) – then as their eye becomes trained and their budget improves they upgrade. You have jumped in much higher up the ladder and have begun your collecting with a good eye for quality and uniqueness and bypassed the first 5 or 10 yrs. of the “average” collector. woodwright

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RareVictorian July 25, 2008 at 9:43 am

Thanks Woodwright. Yes, indeed there are some repairs needed, but I am confident that they can be done and I have already spoken to my friends at Rose Valley about what needs to be done.

My only real quandary is what to do with the upholstery. Leave the original (assuming it is – we’ll see when I get them) or put on some high-end new, but appropriate, upholstery?

I think that I jumped a few years ahead on my collecting due to permitting my budget to do so. Many people would also be collecting what I like to – but keep their budget more modest.

Being a DINK has it’s benefits.

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Kathie July 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I bought my first antique at the age of 15, much to my parents surpise. They took me to a barn auction in Massachuets in the late 1960’s. Thanks to me they came home with a Singer tredel sewing machine about 75 years old at the time.I believe I paid under $25 for it.
I have however gotten more then one good deal at local yard sales. So there are ways of getting the nicer pieces. Estate sales are good too, alot of time people don’t want or know about that old ornate chair Aunt so &so had .
I recently bought a oak refractory dining table and 6 matching chairs ,circa 1910 ,with I belive tiger oak on the chair backs for $200. The family had 2 of them (sets) from older parents and only one dining room.
It might not be Victorian but it will show nice once cleaned up properly. I will keep looking for the 19th century one .That is part of the fun.

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1881victorian July 25, 2008 at 2:55 pm

…and congratulations on the mention in the Wall Street Journal!

– Jason

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RareVictorian July 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Thanks, Jason. Hopefully we’ll add some more knowledgeable regulars as a result.

It was definitely a good publication to get my first mention in ;-)

I’m trying to think how to get the next publication mention …. this one just fell in my lap.

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Woodwright July 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm

I can remember when being a DINK was a bad thing, but today it can be advantageous to be a DINK. My how times have changed. Although even today – not all DINKS are good DINKS.

You have a tough decision to make on the upholstery of the P&S set. If it is indeed the original upholstery. Do you replace it with one of the many gorgeous period appropriate new fabrics, have it look like a million bucks, and make it more functional and appealling to most people? OR Do you leave the original upholstery playing an important role in preserving history. Which makes it less appealling to most (most want something that looks good and is functional) – but makes it very appealling to a select group – like very discriminting collectors and museums – who will often pay a premium to find pieces as close to original as possible. Quite a quandry indeed. Although you may have to remove or partially remove the present upholstery for some of the needed repairs. woodwright

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misslilybart July 27, 2008 at 10:21 am

RareVictorian, congratulations on your find! As to the question of the upholstery, it would be helpful to see some close details photos of the upholstery, the trim and any areas where the show cover has been “peeled back” from the muslin, as well as any up-close and personal observations you may have regarding the type of cloth, its quality, etc.

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Woodwright July 27, 2008 at 10:59 am

Now you’ll have to find a matching sofa to complete the set like the one pictured in the Dubrow’s book mentioned in the listing. I see they din’t sell one separately – wonder what happened to it? I’m sure there was probably one with the set at one time.
To help figure out if the upholstery is original or not. Carefully remove the fabric in an area (use a tack puller) paying very close attention to the placement of the tacks (new uphostery is stapled on – old was tacked on) and look to see if there are extra holes (from previous upholstery jobs) if the only holes on the frame are from the current tacks – then it is original. woodwright

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james conrad July 27, 2008 at 8:07 pm

yup, no doubt about it, there has never been a better time to buy antique furniture in my life than now.

Next month at Northeast auctions, theres a major Shaker furniture collection going on the block. I’ll be interested to see how that goes as Shaker furniture has managed to stay strong in the market so far.

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