What attracts people to collect antiques?

Antiques: No longer in the mood for the old: Antiques prices are falling

Eric Meletta's business has been history since the end of December. After almost forty years. Meletta started out with a small shop on Amalienstraße in Munich, then moved to Brienner Straße. Two floors, the best address, a luxury store. Now there is only the camp. Eric Meletta says that when he was just 78 years old, it was time for a somewhat calmer life. “When I started, I was around 40. I sort of set up my generation,” says Meletta. The younger ones should now take care of today's.

The only thing is: today's generation of buyers is unfortunately not really up to speed! She disdainfully disdains what achieved top prices 30 years ago, i.e. the bulbous baroque chest of drawers as well as the Biedermeier secretary. The prices for antiques have therefore been falling for years. In the past few months, there have also been large posters in Meletta's shop: clearance sale, up to 50 percent. "I sold well," says Meletta, "but some pieces also below my purchase price."

Rule of thumb for horror at German antique dealers

The worm is in the business of old furniture and what the actress Liselotte Pulver once briskly formulated no longer applies: "Antiques are things from yesterday according to the taste of today at the prices of tomorrow." Not only that, antiques no longer apply correspond to the taste of today, the prices are also more so that one has to say: in any case, they cannot be any lower tomorrow. At least for furniture from the Biedermeier, Rococo or Baroque periods.

A rule of thumb of horror circulates among German antique dealers, wrote the FAZ: “You take the former price of a piece, divide it by two and then delete the last zero - you already have a rough benchmark for what you still get for one today Antiques can expect. ”What was once bought for 8,000 D-Marks, for example, is now worth perhaps 400 euros. Flea market level in drastic cases.

So is it all a matter of taste? “Not only,” says Meletta. One thing is that today's generation of heirs can't do much with their parents' treasures that have been beautifully polished over the years and that they prefer a Bauhaus classic by Marcel Breuer instead of the Biedermeier secretary. Out is out. This applies to the display cabinet, the Meissen porcelain with floral decoration as well as to the finely knotted carpets, once jewels of every bourgeois apartment.

In addition, Meissner porcelain is not allowed in the dishwasher, just like the family silver. And that still has to be polished. "The convenience factor", as Meletta calls it. But the fact that the old Frankfurt wave cabinet simply no longer fits into a so-called flexible life with moves every few years is another. Says Meletta, says Georg Rehm, auctioneer in Augsburg for 35 years. “Who still has the space to put a baroque cupboard in their apartment today? You actually need a room height of 3.5 meters for the cabinet to work. "

Antiques do not appeal to many young people

The boys, they don't want to, they can't, they like it simple and modern, at best a crossover is possible, i.e. the combination of old and new. But now they stand there with all the heirlooms, for example lugging the suitcase with the old silver and Rehm then has to explain: Maybe it's best to melt it down after all, then there is still the material value for the precious metal. But of course he doesn't like to say it. In his office there is such a box, currently half full, a glittering heap of cutlery from which a piece of serving cutlery protrudes here and there, formerly a treasure.

And the Frankfurt wave cabinet, which once adorned not only the room, but also the owner, because it indicated style, connoisseurship and a bank account that was well filled? "If in the past such a cabinet was traded for 20,000 to 30,000 Deutschmarks or more, for example, we're sometimes talking about 1500 or 2000 euros." Rehm says that for years he has had to constantly lower prices.

For him as an auctioneer, this means that the turnover that he made with just a few items twenty years ago must now exceed the masses. There is enough offer! The following still applies: “There are still top prices for top goods.” You can be happy when your grandparents or parents have bought a piece by cabinet maker David Roentgen, for example. Six-figure sums or more are paid on the international market.

The drop in prices mainly affects the “average goods”, says Eric Meletta. There is currently an oversupply of that. And there are also some items among them for which the parents or grandparents simply paid too much at the time of the boom. Perhaps even a marriage, a piece that was newly assembled from pieces of several pieces of furniture. "Suddenly, every piece of furniture that was more than 100 years old was already considered an antique."

"Perfect time" to buy antiques

Meletta therefore does not want to speak of a general crisis in the antique trade. Too undifferentiated. Because international collectors continue to pay top prices for special pieces. Because that also applies to modern classics: A couple of IKEA chairs, model Muslinge from the 1940s, even brought in 173,000 euros. “It's just like being on the stock exchange, with constant ups and downs,” says Meletta.

But as chairman of the association of art dealers, he hears many sad stories from his colleagues. Falling sales, no new customers. And the complaints are the same everywhere. Also in England, the Netherlands and France. More and more renowned antique dealers or auction houses are giving up their business. In the traditional Louvre des Antiquaires in Paris, most of the once 250 shops are now empty. “It doesn't look rosy at the moment,” says Meletta, “but things may be different again in ten years.” It's all a question of supply and demand.

So bad times to sell, but the best to buy. “The time is perfect,” says Eric Meletta. “Definitely now,” says Georg Rehm. Whereby buyers shouldn't let themselves be guided by the price and the hope of immense increases in value. “The prices will certainly rise again, but perhaps not to the same high level as they used to be.” Which is why Rehm advises paying particular attention to the quality when buying and getting good information. “Just not cheap junk. If in doubt, it is better to spend 500 euros more. ”Most importantly, it has to be pleasing! Then the question of how much the good piece can be sold for is secondary anyway. Anyone who stock up on new goods in the furniture store will end up with only bulky waste. "But antiques never lose their full value, there is always something left over."