Compared with the heyday of antiques collecting, prices for average pieces are now “80 percent off,” said Colin Stair, the owner of Stair Galleries auction house in Hudson, N.Y. “Your typical Georgian 18th century furniture, chests of drawers, tripod tables, Pembroke tables,” he noted, can all be had for a fraction of what they cost 15 to 20 years ago.Tyler Cowen has some theories:
In 2002, Mr. Stair sold a set of eight George III-style carved mahogany chairs for $8,000; in 2016, he sold a similar set of eight chairs for $350.
In 2003, he dispatched a Regency breakfront bookcase for $9,500; in 2016, the sales price of an equivalent piece had plummeted to $1,300.
1. eBay and the internet have increased supply more than demand. . . .To which one might add:
2. The article also demonstrates that many buyers are refocusing their demands on newer pieces. Our attitude toward the past may have changed in some fundamental way, with items before a certain date just not existing in most people’s aesthetic universes. . . .
3. Homes have changed: “More homes have open-concept, casual living spaces rather than formal dining rooms and studies, which reduces the need for stately mahogany dining tables, chairs and cabinets.”
4. The aesthetic of the internet itself has pushed people away from “old and musty.” Just look at the kind of images you see on Instagram.
- Trends happen.
- Comfort is everything now – look at the way we dress.
- What isn't comfort is convenience.
- And, yes, we seem to be in a very present-oriented era, in which the past is increasingly just that time when we had slavery and patriarchy. The other day I was looking at a book about the work of a neotraditional architect and though it was very much my own aesthetic the pictures creeped me out a little because they looked like the homes of rich Republicans who hate taxes and think the poor deserve it. (Hey, part of the reason I hate brutalism is that it looks like Stalinism in concrete.)