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Go to most art, antique and design fairs and you will see stands set out like shop windows or room sets. Many of the fairs have ditched the word antique in favour of decorative, design or modern – or they use a completely different word to emphasise exclusivity and luxury.

All this reflects the fact that most people have moved away from the notion of collecting and towards that of decorating and lifestyle enhancement. That means those who sell desirable items must package them in different ways.

Take accessories like scarves, costume jewellery and vintage handbags. They used to be tail-end offerings at general auctions where you would be lucky to scrape together a few pounds from them. Now, though, they enjoy dedicated sales, which bring in new, younger buyers eager to get the look and pick up a rarity usually available only as a modern re-issue. Some of these things remain antiques but have just been re-labeled. It’s a great marketing lesson and shows that whatever you call them, some antiques never really go out of fashion.

It’s a lesson the leading luxury brands themselves have learnt, going as far as to set up their own pre-loved divisions, buying up and reselling their own vintage products.

With social media, pop-ups, drop sales and drop shipping all new phenomena competing for business these days, our industry is obsessed with staying relevant in attracting the next generation of buyers and sellers. Fifty years ago, newly married couples tended to go to auction to buy furniture and decorations for their first home. Then the era of mass consumerism, with its disposable, flatpack furnishings, took over, tastes changed, and the local general weekly auction started to look like a thing of the past.

Well, close to half a century on we’re still here and as relevant today as we have always been. Yes, we have had to adapt, offering more specialist sales, better catalogues, clear costings and, in the advanced technological age, live bidding via the internet.

What hasn’t changed are the twin thrills of finding something special hidden among the day-to-day items and the charged atmosphere of competitive bidding and ultimate victory as the hammer comes down.