Up and Down Antique Trends

Everyone, except maybe your mother, knows by now that the value of antiques has plummeted over the past decade. Antique Chippendale style secretary breakfronts once selling at auction for several thousand dollars can now be had for $200. And antique china sets sell for less than $100 at estate sales – if they sell at all. Performing antiques appraisals for these types of items usually entails delivering the news of decreasing levels of value with increasing levels of diplomacy and sensitivity. Please don’t shoot the messenger!

Despite the overall depressing news about the antiques market, there are always exceptions to the rule that capture our attention a second – or third – time around. Here are six of the more notable new and continuing antique trends according to industry experts and sources like Terry Kovel, GoAntiques.com, and AntiqueTrader.com:

Antique Trends # 1: Mid-Century Modern Furnishings

Mid Century George Nelson Wood and Leather Office Desk

George Nelson Wood and Leather Office Desk for Herman Miller, USA, 1948

OK, this may be old news, but it’s still the choice for Millennial minimalists. Can its resurgence be attributed to the hit TV show Mad Men and its 1960s Manhattan swagger? Who knows? But it wouldn’t have lasted this long if it didn’t meet the needs of a growing urban population with no space for hand-me-down, heavy brown furniture sets. It’s lightweight, clean, edgy, and eminently functional. But watch out! Retail giants and boutique stores alike have caught on to the trend. Savvy collectors will still pick the originals over mass-produced, contemporary look-alikes every time.

Antique Trends # 2: Art Deco Furnishings

Pair Walnut and Metal Art Deco Night Tables

French Walnut and Metal Art Deco Night Tables, ca. 1930

Don’t give up your mid-century items just yet, but keep an eye out for a shiny new trend in Art Deco decorative objects and furnishings. These 1920s and 1930s items are about to rise to the ranks of true antiques, and their newly acquired popularity will rise with it. Still true to a sleek minimalist style, their rich surfaces, high-contrast materials and upholstered seating add both statement and comfort to the sometimes-Spartan utilitarianism of mid-century modern. Originally synonymous with power, technology and glamour, Art Deco is going to give expression to our need for individuality and recognition in an increasingly homogenized world.

Antique Trends # 3: Newer Asian Antiques

Antique Chinese Snuff Bottles

Antique Chinese Snuff Bottles

Our fascination with all things oriental isn’t news either. But a shift in focus is on the rise. Intrigue with the ancient Han tomb figures and Tang horses is giving way to a greater appreciation for Chinoiserie Chic – or the decorative items produced in the 18th – 20th centuries. Way? Because the finest kiln masters, carvers and workshops were called upon during the reign of the Qianlong emperor (1711-1799) to serve both his imperial tastes and political aspirations for an international market economy. Their skills have been honed and passed down through the generations. Fine examples of porcelain, bronze, jade, enamel and lacquer decorative objects, furniture, silk textiles and works on paper are beginning to get the attention they deserve.

Antique Trends # 4: Vintage Natural Ethnic Textiles

Stacks of Antique Ethnic Rugs and Blankets

Stacks of Antique Ethnic Rugs and Blankets

Who doesn’t love a splash of color or pattern on our floors, walls, and seating? Vintage, hand-woven textiles from around the world using natural materials, vegetable dyes and traditional techniques. are in high demand now. Leading the pack are Persian rugs, African tribal artifacts, folk art and Native American weavings of all sorts. Their textures, colors and patterns create a perfect marriage between our interest in unique tribal cultures, our love of blending design styles in our décor, and our desire to be better global citizens.

Antique Trends # 5: Old Metal, Rustic and Farmhouse Items

Antique and Vintage Collectible Metal Advertising Farmhouse Signs

Antique and Vintage Collectible Signs

What? Didn’t shabby chic die a natural, washed-out death years ago? The newer version may be inspired more by the rising cost of metals in general and the growth of men as a buying segment in the antique marketplace. Cast iron pans, advertising signs, knives, duck decoys, antlers, fishing lures, lanterns, buckets, troughs and stoves are all hot right now. There’s no rust in the rustic this time, though! If you are buying these items, they should be in spit polish condition.

Antique Trends # 6: 1980’s Toys

Collection of 1980s toys including action figures, robots and transformers

Collection of 1980s Toys from Action Figures to Computer Games

You wouldn’t think that collectibles of any kind would have any draw anymore. But you’d be wrong on two counts. One is that collectors are collectors are collectors. If they don’t have room for period furniture anymore, they can still collect comic books, LP records and action figures. Two is that nostalgia never dies. It just changes from generation to generation. So what toys are hot right now? The ones that make a good Millennial’s nostalgic heart go pitter pat. Think Star Wars, Power Rangers, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Vintage gaming systems like Atari and Nintendo are also making their first appearances in the collectibles scene.