Antiques (already) in Australia

On a recent morning walk with my dog Buddy, enjoying the Autumn sunshine (the season that I think best describes Melbourne), I happened to bump into an antique dealer who was in the process of opening for the morning. We stopped and chatted, as we’ve done before, and I asked him if he intended to travel to France this year; either to visit relatives or for a buying trip? He explained to me that he would certainly hope to visit relatives this year – which was great to hear – but what piqued my interest as an auctioneer were his comments around what a buying trip would now look like, post a world shut down for more than two years by Covid.

Decorative Arts. Leonard Joel Auctions
A Pair of Rouge Marble and Ormolu Mounted Cassolettes
Sold for $3,900

His observations were interesting and very relevant for those of you contemplating buying international period furniture and decoration over the next few years. He made a few salient points. Firstly, that all over the world, marketplaces for antiques in the last two years of isolation have created their own mini buying frenzies amongst landlocked traveller-collector types, making stock of all sorts of origins more and more expensive to acquire. Secondly, he reminded me that, without exaggeration,
the cost of importation has now tripled! This fact alone makes for a very different environment for the buyers of these antiques that are hoping to bring new offerings
back home.

The upshot of this, we both agreed, was that fine antiques sourced and landed pre-Covid, that are still available for sale in Australia, enjoy a current pricing – an inbuilt future discount for want of a better expression – that simply will not last. As current local offerings inevitably deplete and must be replaced with new stock, bought at current pricing and with an unavoidably increased cost of shipping, Australian collectors and decorators alike will be noticing the increased price tags. Put simply, beautiful antique furniture and decoration that was priced before Covid and is already within Australian shores represents a buying opportunity that will not last. 

The takeout here is that, as we move further away from two years of Covid lockdowns, there will be a long tail of more expensive offerings before we enjoy – if ever – the prices we have typically enjoyed buying things for, either at the dealer or auction level. So, I encourage you to consider this opportunity and to visit your favourite dealer or auctioneer and have this conversation with them. Australia’s preeminent antiques and art membership, the A.A.A.D.A, is a perfect starting point for reputable and vetted antique dealers. The various auction houses specialising in fine antiques you can find online. Happy hunting!

Chairman / Head of Important Collections

Banner Image (detail): A Superb Napoleon III Ormolu Mounted Ebony Pier Cabinet By Jean-Louis-Benjamin-Gros, Circa 1850. Sold for $11,875

May 2022