Bargain time for antique furniture


If you've been waiting for the market for Victorian furniture to weaken, now is your time to pounce. Antique prices are finally falling, reports the Wall Street Journal [or here if you don't have a subscription]. They point to a 19th century Chippendale-style desk that only sold for $14,000, but would've gone for $25,000 last year.

But the trend seems to be impacting things normal people might buy, too. In Pennsylvania, antique dealers are saying they're seeing prices from the 1970s and believe this is the bottom. In Texas, sellers have seen some prices fall 75% in a year. In England the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reports that the super-rich are still buying antiques, but mere mortals have backed off.

I'm not really an antique-store shopper, but I have noticed just on eBay that prices have fallen for things I might actually want, like an old Hoosier cabinet. Antiques are the opposite of commodities. Condition, history, quirks matter. But it's still a market with macro trends. The Journal thinks people may be just sick of antiques.

I wonder if the bed bug scare has turned people off other's people furniture. Just like with real estate, there are the hold-out sellers who haven't gotten the memo and are still trying to get boom-era prices. And just because something sold for more last year, it's a mistake to think of that as what it's somehow really worth. But I'm looking at those Hoosier cabinet auctions a lot more closely.