When most people think about antiques and auctions, the old cliché of a dusty saleroom staffed by crusty retainers comes to mind. However, the reality is that it is our industry that has often led the way in innovation, especially with technology.
It may have something to do with the incredible ability of auction houses and dealers to adapt and survive, an attribute that has come into ever sharper focus during the pandemic.
Online bidding, in some shape, has been around for the best part of 20 years now, and has reached a level of sophistication that brings comfort to the least initiated when dipping their toe in the water. Galleries that previously depended on footfall are doing rather nicely, thank you, after swiftly moving planned exhibitions online, even adopting newly developed virtual viewing rooms that grant easy access and help boost sales.
As a longstanding member of our profession, for me nothing will ever replace the thrill and buzz of the live saleroom, with ranks of bidders seated before me as I conduct proceedings from the rostrum. But technology has proved a boon, not just in helping us continue in these dark times, but in extending our geographical reach well beyond the limits of our region to penetrate the furthest corners of the globe.
It has also brought us a new younger audience, who have been getting their first glimpse of antiques. The word ‘antique’ may not be for them, but what they see certainly is, as I can vouch.