Antique furniture: what's hot and what's not with Halls of Shropshire

PUBLISHED: 11:27 19 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:00 20 February 2013

A Mid Wales oak deuddarn of small proportions and good colour which contributed to an above estimate result of £2,300

A Mid Wales oak deuddarn of small proportions and good colour which contributed to an above estimate result of £2,300

"People do not seem to be afraid to spend money if they have found the right piece" - Jeremy Lamond

Brown makes a comeback

People often ask me whether the furniture market is good at the moment given the bad press that antique brown furniture seems to be attracting in some of the national papers. The market in furniture is a local as well as a national affair and often a good local buyer can buck the misery and gloom of the national outlook particularly if they have their eye on a specific piece. In Shropshire, in the run up to Christmas, I have noticed several trends.

Firstly The antique furniture market is very much alive and kicking and people do not seem to be afraid to spend money if they have found the right piece. Since the housing market has slowed, there are plenty of people out there making the best of not moving and buying furniture to give their old home a new look.

Secondly Dining tables and sets of chairs appear to be popular but this is often the case pre-Christmas as people think of the imminent visit of relatives and discover they have not got enough chairs to seat them all or hat the dining table is too small.

Thirdly People are being canny enough to buy for investment as well as for practical reasons. The best furniture is making as much at auction as it ever did and, with the advent of online bidding, the audience is getting bigger and more adventurous.

Fourthly Large pieces of case furniture seem to be making a comeback. Although the market for dressers, linen presses, coffers and sideboards may never return to the levels of 30 years ago, the fact that there is a demand is encouraging.

In a recent sale at Halls, a North Wales oak high dresser dated to the early 19th century with a boarded delft rack above an enclosed base of three drawers over three central drawers flanked by cupboard doors, brought 2,400 against an estimate of 1,500/2,500. This was a good price compared to 12 months ago when dressers seemed to be faltering. A warm toffee-coloured patina helped the price along but then so did the practical nature of the piece and the fact that it may not have required much restoration before it slotted neatly in to the dining kitchen. An oak South Wales high dresser, with a boarded delft rack and three drawers above a pot board fared less well when it sold for 950, slightly below the estimate. Why the contrast? This latter example was a lighter shade but the colour was uneven on the drawers and this may have put people off.
I mentioned at the beginning that a pre-Christmas sale was a good time to sell tables and sets of chairs. In this recent sale a George IV mahogany twin pedestal dining table realised a mid-estimate 4,500 while a country Chippendale set of six mahogany dining chairs brought a low estimate 600. The table did well because it was a versatile piece which could be extended or compressed. It was also a good rich colour and everybody likes a nice mahogany dining table.

Jeremy Lamond is fine art director at Halls auctioneers and valuers. Contact him at Halls head office, Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury,
tel: 01743 284777.

Whats hot and whats not
Brown furniture of good colour and of a practical nature. Dining tables, chairs and bookcases are in as are chest-on-chests (especially in mahogany). Victorian bedroom chests of drawers, davenports, parlour suites and mahogany breakfast tables (so popular a few years ago) are out for the time being unless they are exceptional examples. Good quality regional oak is popular and pieces of small proportions are much sought after. Finally, buy what you like and can live with and always buy the best that you can afford it will pay you back in years to come.

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