Dealers and auctioneers alike have found the AFI – published by the Antique Collectors’ Club magazine Antique Collecting and reproduced in the pages of the Antiques Trade Gazette – to be an invaluable source of insight into the market for furniture.
Complete with graphs and comparisons, John Andrews’ analysis of 1400 pieces of standard Georgian and Victorian cabinetmaking sold over a year made for heartening reading in the boom years. His analysis over the years showed antique furniture prices rose faster than property in south-east England.
But since the turn of the 21st century, the AFI has made for sobering reading. The 2016 final issue showed the index down to a level last seen in the 1980s.
It cannot be hoped that had Andrews produced a 2017 edition, it would have been much more encouraging, though as our report above shows, quality still attracts high prices.
Newark auctioneer Nic Mellors reflects: “There is still interest in the really good lots and the decorative is still sought after. But the middle ground is as difficult as ever, with bright moments for the odd item that a private individual might want, but otherwise patchy.”
Robin Fisher at Mallams of Cheltenham is in a similar frame of mind. “I had a lightbulb moment about seven years ago when I decided to hold fewer and fewer furniture sales in the limited space of our town-centre rooms and I’m glad I did, ” he said.