'The old rules about valuable antiques have changed' says US auctioneer Cowan's



Cowan's is based in Cincinnati in the US, and its Summer Fine and Decorative Art Auction taking place on July 23 promises to be an exciting event.

The 364-lot sale, to be held at Cowan's saleroom, will offer fine and decorative art items from the 18th to the 20th centuries.  

Highlights in the sale include a 1944 Martin D-28 Herringbone Guitar. Estimated to sell for $30,000-40,000, the guitar still retains its original keys.

CF Martin & Company's primary factory, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, is renowned for its high quality lines of guitars. And this especially vintage model will undoubtedly catch the eyes and ears of collectors and alternative investors when it appears for sale.

"This auction is a reflection of changes in the overall antiques market," Diane Wachs, Director of Cowan's Department of Fine and Decorative Art department told Paul Fraser Collectibles.

"In the last two years, we have seen a resurgence of interest in good European pieces. Italy, especially, seems to by looking and buying, both art and furniture.


The 1944 Martin D-28 Herringbone Guitar, estimated at $30,000-40,000

"Also, Spanish furniture pieces have attracted attention from buyers, some from Europe, some from the Western US. When we have a good French, German or Italian piece of furniture, there is strong interest in Europe," said Diane.

Among the European furniture items being offered at Cowan's is a Queen Anne Style Secretary Bookcase, estimated to bring $8,000-10,000.

This bookcase is English 19th century and is in walnut with pine and oak secondary. Having dovetailed construction, the upper case opens to a fitted architectural interior, and the lower case opens to a fitted interior with a tooled leather writing surface.

But, as Diana tells us, age alone won't ensure this piece's success at Cowan's auction. "The only certainty in this market (other than selling Chinese pieces) is that all the old rules about valuable antiques have changed. The old rules placed importance on antiques of a certain class - taste was important.

"[Nowadays] age does not necessarily equate with value. Most buyers don't care that a piece belonged to a great-great grandmother, unless she was Royalty. They care about where they can use it, whether or not it is great looking and if their children can be around it. Practical trumps age.

"Today, style is more important, as is function. You have to be able to use a purchase. If a piece is obsolete in use today, chances are it is dead in the market. As an auction house, we have to be flexible and nimble!"

Watch this space for more news on Cowan's auction.


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