Bunhill: Antique furniture prices rising

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The Independent Online
GOOD news for antique furniture owners. The Chippendale has started to earn its keep again. The Hepplewhite is washing its face. Prices are rising again after two dismal years.

John Andrews, who under the auspices of the Antique Collectors' Club, has compiled an index of antique furniture prices for 25 years, calculates that prices rose by an average of 2 per cent last year.

The index is compiled by tracking the prices of 90 different types of antique furniture, from dressers to dumb waiters, and bureaux to bible boxes. Over the very long term, though not in recent years, prices have beaten both the stock market and house prices.

Andrews, who also writes antiques trade crime novels under the pseudonym John Malcolm, believes we're in for a bit of a boom: 'If the recovery continues then I think furniture prices are going to go up very sharply.'

Prices, he says, seem to move in the same way as house prices. Curiously, they have also closely tracked the CBI business optimism survey. The best year since he began compiling records was 1985, when prices rose by 24 per cent. Furniture purchased for pounds 100 in 1968 would now be worth pounds 2,371.

But there have been winners and losers within the sector. The smart money over the past five years went on useful pieces like dining tables and sets of chairs. And the stupid money? Georgian wine coolers, apparently. They enjoyed a fleeting vogue among yuppies in the 1980s, says Andrews. Their prices have since sunk like a Filofax in Chardonnay.

(Photograph and graph omitted)