For years now, we auctioneers have been banging on about the decline in demand for ‘brown’ furniture. It’s true that a number of auction houses who have developed specialist departments for smaller high-value items like jewellery, glass and ceramics have got rid of their furniture departments altogether. I understand their thinking: why devote so much time and, in particular, space to something that no longer props up the bottom line in the way it used to?
Well I think there are at least two good answers to this: the first is that not all brown furniture is the same and, even with the long-term slump, certain makers, styles and types of furniture can still make strong prices, as can been seen in our fine antique sales in Fernhurst. The second reason is that while sellers may not reap the benefits they once would have from a tallboy or a breakfront bookcase, it’s a bonanza for buyers.
For those young people who actually can afford to buy their own home these days, money remains tight, so being able to get your hands on an amazing statement piece of furniture that will last a lifetime has got to be a major attraction. These people are the next generation who will learn to love auctions, and ‘brown’ furniture, for want of a better term, is the key to getting them into the saleroom.