It was indeed sad to note the closing of the Thames Valley Antique Dealers Association earlier this month - it was not entirely unexpected since the numbers of Antique Dealers has dropped all over the UK over the past decade and smaller trade associations were always going to bear the brunt of this during the squeeze. We supported them for years after moving to Witney from Old Bond Street in London's Mayfair, but when their Radley College Antiques Fair stopped due to the college term dates clashing with other events, it was only a matter of time in a shrinking market that the inevitable happened. Everyone involved with TVADA should have fond memories of what was a great "club" in its heyday.
The Cotswold Antique Dealers Association, on the other hand, seems to be going almost from strength to strength under the chairmanship of my good friend John Howard, and the CADA Fair at Blenheim Palace next April is fully booked with a waiting list of dealers anxious to exhibit at this landmark fair. Here in the Cotswolds the cold weather has not deterred the brave Antiques Collectors who are still beating a path to my door, and I do feel that there is still a strong following for the Furniture Dealer who also handles clocks, barometers, pictures and a variety of works of art. Naturally, they complement the specialist but for most people going to look at antiques, it is probably the likes of Harvey's which will be their primary port of call. It is the breadth of stock which I carry that commends shops like mine to so many as they know they will always find something to fascinate, amuse or even purchase.
Whether you want something as opulent as this exciting Kingwood piece will depend on many different factors, but the mere fact that I have pieces of this rarity in stock does not detract from your visit as you will also find many items on display priced in the hundreds of pounds. It is not the price that is important but the value that counts. I also firmly believe that Antique English Furniture represents remarkable value for money at this time and the recent top London Sales catalogues from Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonham's all show how positive their view is of the direction of travel for prices. It will not come as a surprise to hear that prices which seemed to grow year on year almost without pause during the 1970s, 80s and 90s did suffer a setback during the post financial crisis aftermath of 2007/8 but rapidly plateaued and now seem to be starting to rise again.
When I see pieces like this Chippendale Period Mahogany Card Table priced at under £3,000- and compare that to the prices being asked for modern and reproduction furniture, I am tempted to ask why anyone would want to shop at a Scandinavian superstore?
I will freely admit to being biased but with all the economic indicators here in the UK showing positive signs, I do believe that prices can only go in one direction over the next few years. As an elected member of the District Council, part of my job is to make sure that I am available to listen to what residents of the ward I represent are saying, and what better place to catch up with their news than over a glass of wine at the Three Horseshoes, a 17th. century coaching inn only a few steps away from my front door here in Witney. Last night the approach of Christmas was bought home to me starkly by one couple who proclaimed to everyone that :
" We really know when Christmas is coming because that's when Mr. Harvey, here, does his Christmas Window and it's the best in the Cotswolds. We always bring all our visiting friends into the centre of town just to look at it. If we win the lottery then one day we'll buy something!"
To those kind people thank you for the huge compliment but it really is a team effort like so much that goes on behind the scenes at 86 Corn Street.