Antique furniture market recovery in sight at 2014 BADA Fair

The annual fair of the British Antique Dealers Association (BADA), held on March 19 in London, has seen record crowds and strong sales, marking signs of recovery for the ailing furniture market.

The St Petersburg commode sold by Thomas Coulborn & Sons

The attendance at the fair was 18,500, a 5.7% increase on last year's figures.

"The opening of the Fair was incredibly busy to the point where we could hardly move on the stand!" commented Laura Bordignon, chairman of the fair. "The quality of visitors seems to improve year on year".

The first sale of the event was seen by Thomas Coulborn & Sons within the first two hours, with its star piece, a St Petersburg commode from the Earl of Craven's estate, selling for £245,000 ($405,321) - one of 15 sales made during the day.

One dealer, Christopher Buck, said: "Now, more than ever, people are not just expressing interest in English furniture but buying it."

Director of the fair, Gillian Craig, added: "The dealers have an increased confidence in the market which could be seen in the exceptional quality of the stock that they brought to the Fair and was reflected in the very strong sales this year."

The Antique Collectors' Club's Annual Furniture Index, which tracks the value of 1,400 items of English furniture, saw a 6% decline in 2013. According to the index, the market peaked in 2002, but has fallen to the level of the late 1980s in recent years.

However, it should be noted that this is only for "typical" items, whereas the market for exceptional pieces, largely unaffected by economic downturns, has remained buoyant as ever. For the investor, the downturn spells opportunity, with many good items at their most affordable in years.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has some exceptional items of investment-grade furniture for sale.

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