Times change and tastes change with them; this is why so many people now confidently claim that brown furniture is dead as a market. I disagree. While some of the heavier monumental pieces in mahogany and other dark woods may struggle to find buyers these days, other lighter designs with clean lines and beautiful proportions can still command strong prices.
Craftsmanship has never been more valued, which in part explains the continuing success of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson, whose Kilburn workshop turned out a wide range of lovingly carved utilitarian furniture, honed in the Arts and Crafts tradition, embellished with the artisan’s signature mouse.
The Edward Barnsley workshop near Petersfield still creates beautifully crafted works, while bidders will chase pieces by Ernest Gimson and Gordon Russell to the ends of the earth. Don’t even get me started on post-war Scandinavian design!
So what should we look for when trying to predict what will become the valuable antiques and collectables of tomorrow?
Whether it is furniture or any other discipline, I would argue that the same rules apply. To a greater or lesser degree the important factors are rarity, craftsmanship, materials, aesthetic appeal, condition, historic association, maker and condition. Of these, rarity is possibly the best indicator. Apply these measures and you may well start to spot tomorrow’s auction treasures today.