The Value of Antiques: old world charm in a new world investment
There’s probably no more satisfying creative endeavour than taking a beautiful piece of old craftsmanship and restoring it to its former glory. Colour, lustre and refurbishment bring the vision of the original artist back to life, providing not only a refreshed view, but also the enhanced value of the age of the item, its individual history, and treasured place in time.
The art of restoration
For most antique pieces, a very good restoration job will actually enhance the value of the item. The main goal of restoration is to re-establish as closely as possible the original appearance and functionality of a piece. It can be as simple as light cleaning to remove dirt or grime, such as on the surface of a painting, or it may include almost complete rebuilding or replacement of parts.
There is a difference between restoring and repairing. Repair is basically to restore functionality alone, but restoring an item to its former glory is an art-form. Finishes may be stripped and redone, but stripping is only done as a last resort, especially with antique furniture – but it is essential that the original patination is retained.
People who value antiques usually want the item to retain a reflection of its age. Over-restoration can be as damaging as poor restoration. That’s why a professional should always be involved. Restorers are often trained craftsmen such as furniture makers, mechanics, or metalsmiths. Once something has been spoilt by a heavy hand, it may be very difficult to return it to its intended splendour. The idea is not only to disguise all previous damage over time, but also to ensure the item can be preserved for the future.
What draws us to antiques?
What is the mystique of antiques that fascinates us? For some people it’s where and with whom the item has been. Perhaps in a stately home, perhaps in a king’s palace. That is glory enough. For others it’s the intensity of the craftsmanship that is really no longer seen today – the artistry that lends unique design and attention to the piece. Others are shaken by the sheer magnificence of concept and execution.
And then there are those who feel almost a spiritual draw to the age of the object, as though in that history there lies some dim memory of their own – something precious that must be preserved. Antiques evoke both pride and passion for the past. And it’s rarely about functionality – but far more about preservation and display. That is why Items that have no use in modern society are still highly sought-after and prized.
Sometimes more modern pieces are sought by the generation that may remember them as a child – and there will be a sudden upsurge of ‘retro’ pieces for a while. But the pieces that are hundreds of years old simply fill us with awe because we are amazed that craftsmen without computers and modern machinery were able to fashion such imagination and beauty into being.
And the antique business is a fashion business as well. Trends are ever-changing from childhood nostalgia to old posters, people are searching for what is trendy and can add effect to more modern settings. But however you view your antiques, or whatever you search for, that rich essence of what is old and meaningful draws us, gives us a sense of stability and security; whatever ups and downs the world suffers, these items carry forever the true value of art, quality and attention to detail. And while we hold on to that, the world is not lost.
The difficulty of antique valuations
The problem with an antique’s value, is that not everyone sees the value necessarily in the same way. Research is vital – there must be some proven track record which can define the value. But value of an antique remains in what somebody is prepared to pay, like any other economic transaction. That’s why so many antiques find their way to auctions. The bidders there will finally determine the price.
Even so, ballpark ideas are useful, and for that you need the assistance of a professional antiques appraiser. A price is usually arrived at by looking at comparable values. Researching current prices with regard to recorded sales of the same piece, or similar pieces, would allow a fair average valuation. But because so many antique pieces can prove rare, even singular, this is not always an easy solution.
Also the condition of the item is important. Obviously the better the condition without major restoration, the more valuable it may prove. And a determining factor is the uniqueness of the piece, or the keenness to purchase by several potential buyers at once. Values can swing according to time, fashion and the economy – and a price for one item at one sale may not reflect that of an exact same item at another sale.
Dealers tend to ask higher prices in brick and mortar shops and at antiques shows. So do your searches online, or at auctions, or at small curiosity shops – you never know what you may find. Buying books on antiques is a good way to know what is out there, sought-after and priced. And the library can be a good source as well. Locale is also important. When selling in a small country village, you are unlikely to raise the price the piece may attain in New York or London. When selling to an antiques dealer, you are unlikely to raise the price you might expect. The dealer has overheads to consider, and it may be years before they are able to sell the item. Everyone can attest to the dusty clutter of many ‘second-hand’ antiques and collectible shops!
As an investment, an antique piece is often best for emotional satisfaction. Selling at any time for a profit will depend on the piece and circumstance, and where it may stand on the list of desired collectibles by professional buyers. When something is seen as highly prized even if in somewhat poor repair, then you truly have a gem! For most, the true value of an antique lies in its aura of mystery and agelessness; the perfect way to trap and possess time.
The raison d’etre for My Lifestyle Collections
The Western Cape offers a rich history of architecture, beautiful fauna and flora, together with captivating views of magnificent mountain ranges and the scenic blue of the oceans. In fact, it offers the best in experience and lifestyle anywhere in the world. And we believe in making the best of what both nature and refined living can offer, including finding those quiet, sophisticated and beautiful places to relax and indulge your senses, offering fitness and health information that goes hand-in-glove with the enjoyment of open spaces and splendid vistas, adding to lifestyle enhancement through the promotion of brilliantly refurbished antique items, brought to life in superbly crafted reflections of artistry, comfort and elegance.
If this sounds like an intriguing combination of services, find out more about our unique lifestyle offerings at: www.mylifestylecollections.com