Kovels’ readers often ask, “What’s 'in' now?” The best of every type of antique or collectible is always in demand. But here are 5 antiques and collectibles that are currently seeing rising prices. Hint: Sleek and “modern” are still in but “brown” is sneaking back.
1. Costume jewelry is still the most popular items sold at shows and online. Vintage is more affordable than new, but pieces marked with makers’ names like Miriam Haskell, Hattie Carnegie and Trifari sell for more now than in the last 10 years. Modernist silver jewelry is hot, and prices for pins and earrings by artists like Art Smith are in the thousands of dollars. So look for unmarked pieces of jewelry. They are bargains compared with store prices. Consider pearls, long chains that can be layered, enamel bangle bracelets that can be worn together and anything with big colored stones, like pins and cocktail rings. The modernist style bracelet pictured here is unmarked but very well-made. It sells for $75 in a Ruby Lane shop online.
2. Midcentury furniture. Today’s younger buyers are still on the hunt for blond and light wood pieces from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s – sofas, chairs, tables and desks with sleek design and clean lines. Oak and clunky is out. But anything marked Eames, Saarinen, Bertoia, Nelson, Wormley, Robsjohn-Gibbings, Finn Juhl, Herman Miller or Knoll is in demand and is selling for very high prices. So look for unmarked and therefore less expensive midcentury pieces as well as fun and unusual accessories that complete “the look” – 1950’s pole lamps, floor lamps and table lamps, wall clocks, metal wall hangings and iconic plastic chairs. This midcentury arm chair was made in Italy in the 1940s. It sold for $154 at an Austin auction in Texas.
3. Period furniture. Currently the trend is still midcentury furniture. But while the market has been down for “brown” furniture, it’s starting to go up. Good period furniture is starting to sell again. Now is a good time to look forward a few years and buy Chippendale, Regency, Georgian and Sheraton. Look for high-quality craftsmanship that will maintain its value. Buy “period,” not repro from the 1920s and ’30s. And mix it up – incorporate statement antiques into modern decorating schemes. This walnut Biedermeier demilune cabinet with marquetry detail was made in the 1820s. It is well-made and useful for storage. The cabinet sold for $1,750 at a New Orleans auction.
4. Baskets. Prices have been rising for Japanese baskets. Their artistry and form have been drawing buyers since the mid-2000s. Prices are particularly high if they are signed by the maker. So, look for baskets, historic or modern, that were made in other countries or with a maker’s mark that can be identified. Keep an eye out for baskets that were made with traditional techniques but in shapes that are more sculptural than utilitarian. This American Indian birch bark quill basket is an unusual form. It has an identification card from the maker and sold for $345. (Photo courtesy of Myers Auction Gallery, Florida.)
5. Dishes and glassware. Sets of antique or vintage dishes and glasses are selling for very low prices or not at all at antiques shops, flea markets and auctions. Think about finding a set not to collect, but to use. Serve food with utensils and dishes that were made especially for asparagus, soup and even condiments. Explain to your family and guests that while the designs may be off-trend, they are pieces of history. And a bargain at that. This dinnerware set is by Franciscan and the pattern is Dawn. The 58-piece set sold for $246 at DuMouchelles in Detroit.
So pass on your grandmother’s figurines and head for her vintage rings and brooches. Snag the midcentury modern desk, but also consider the mahogany corner cabinet, buffet or bookshelf if it’s good quality. Don’t ignore the dishes. And on your next trip, be sure to check out the local basket makers.