With headlines celebrating huge prices for modern collectables like sneakers, comics and plastic toys, the traditional world of fine furniture and silver auctions can seem a long way away. The reality, though, is that at heart little has changed except for current tastes.
People of all ages like to have nice things and they also like to make a bit of money from things they no longer want or need, which other people might appreciate.
The factors that govern values in Pokémon playing cards are little different from those that determine what people will pay for other, older works on paper, especially rarity and condition.
Sometimes people of different generations like the same things without realising it because they call them different names: what younger collectors refer to as vintage posters, advertising packaging and other transitory pieces of design would be called ephemera by the collectors of yesteryear. The trick is getting people to appreciate that ‘antique’ is not dead and gone, it’s simply transitioning as the years go by, along with the terms we use to describe it.
The result is that auction houses have begun to change the way they present their sales calendar and departments to reflect the changing attitudes of the public who tend to think of objects in terms of furnishing and design rather than as academic collectables. Furniture, lighting and works of art sales have now sometimes come together under the title of Homes & Interiors, for instance. And the types of furniture, from the way they are designed to the materials they are made from, have also moved on, with the occasional backward glance as out-of-fashion pieces suddenly become à la mode once more.