TITTLE TATTLE AND TANTRUMS IN THE TRADE OCTOBER 2012
Most people are familiar with the old adage that if you put 5 Antique Dealers on an island and give them one chair they will all make a living. It seems simplistic but in essence it’s true as so much of our business is dealer to dealer and some items seem to float around for years without ever finding an end user.
However, what happens when one of the dealers finds that the price of firewood is greater than the unit value of the chair. He decides to take the back off, sell the wood for burning and return the chair to the market as a stool. This may be fine for a while as there is still a product to keep moving around the island but if another dealer in the chain makes the same choice then our market could be left with a lower stool or even a three legged one, making it much less desirable as a product. Not long now before the firewood price takes the whole item out of the market and as it has been burned there is no chance of it being restored.
Our 5 dealers are now faced with a major dilemma as they no longer have a product to trade, so unless they can create a new product and a new market for it they are all out of business. Given that a couple of them are due to retire they may not be too worried but for the rest and any future generation of dealers it’s a major disaster.
Silly as that may all sound it’s exactly what is happening to part of the market at the moment. Furniture isn’t worth more as firewood, as yet, but the price of silver and gold bullion is so high that the volume of re-useable goods in the market is depleting daily and it’s all down to making a fast buck. Gone is the interest, for many dealers, in the aesthetic or historic quality of an item, all they want to know is how much it weighs and how quickly they can get it to melt!
Sellers think they are getting a great deal for their precious metal without realising that the same merits which would have made their item worth more in the past are out of the window and they are simply selling scrap.........even if it is set with good sized diamonds, carved ivory, lovely opals or anything else for that matter.
It really is becoming a crisis. For a while the high price meant that lots of meritless modern jewellery was being smashed up and leaving the market with a better quality selection but that too is now being raided to maintain the fast buck culture and to heck with the consequences. Thankfully a small percentage of items are still escaping the pot but mostly by being sold to foreign dealers who still have customers prepared to buy gold and silver as items to treasure.
A number of long time real dealers are already finding it hard to get good stock and if the trend doesn’t change pretty soon then there will be little left for us and future generations to trade with or collect and enjoy. Maybe think before you melt. Do you really need to cash in quickly or could you get the same or an even better price by being a little more patient and keeping some of the better objects for the future? WARNING!!!! It’s our own version of global warming and could bring about our extinction. And it wouldn’t take long.