The gentleman’s guide to buying antique furniture

A gentleman should aspire to make a couple of important luxury purchases in his lifetime; a car, a watch, a house and to fill it, antique furniture. Knowing what to buy and indeed where to find it, however, is a question that we often have to search high and low for to find the answer. To help you on your way, whether that purchase is likely to happen imminently or in the future, we asked the experts at LAPADA to give us a simple breakdown of exactly what we should be looking for, and where.

ANTIQUES

Continental art nouveau mahogany and mother of pearl arm chairs from Wick Antiques

What to buy:

Only buy what you love

“Trust your own tastes and instincts”

Buy the best you can afford

“You can live with a piece for a lifetime if you love it”

Ask dealers questions before you buy

“It is worth asking about the condition, history, age and provenance of a piece. A good dealer will have a wealth of knowledge and will take the time to share their expertise with you”

Don’t be afraid to mix styles and periods

“Variety and unusual combinations can make for particularly interesting interiors”

Upholster antique furniture

“…with modern fabrics for a contemporary look can create very intriguing aesthetics. LAPADA Association service provider Italian textile company, Dedar, has worked with a number of our dealers with fantastic results”

If you’re looking to invest…

“Think about condition, history, age, authenticity and purchase location, because they can all affect the price you pay – and what an item is worth. Remember, antiques and pictures, like all investments, can fluctuate in value, up and down”

LAPADA members are pre-vetted and abide by a strict Code of Conduct, which means you can buy from them with confidence.

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Lennox Cato chest of drawers

Where to buy

“Buy from recognised, reputable and trusted dealers, who are experts in the type of object or work of art which interests you. Reassuringly for new – and more experienced – buyers, around 500 dealers in the UK are members of LAPADA, which for 42 years has approved members based upon criteria designed to ensure that you can buy from them with confidence. It was the first such association to bind members to a Code of Practice, which amongst other things guarantees you will be given a full description of each piece, including any major restoration or later additions, and that the price, if not on a label with the piece, will be available to view in a price list or stock book. In the unlikely event of a customer-dealer dispute, the LAPADA conciliation service is available. This is key for ensuring your investment.”

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Photo: Nimbus Antiques

“Perhaps one of the most enjoyable and easiest ways to buy is at a vetted fair, such as the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair Berkeley Square in September. Here you will find a range of dealers offering a broad spectrum of pieces in a variety of disciplines, from Elizabethan oak tester beds to 20th Century cocktail cabinets – as well as art and objects to set them off. They are a fantastic opportunity to discover new objects and styles. Ask the dealers for the history behind their pieces, as these will bring them alive. You can also be assured that each piece has been approved as authentic by experts in each field: around 80 vetters (with, suitably, hundreds of years combined experience) inspect the works on offer from the fair’s 115 exhibitors. The atmosphere of the week-long event – staged in a purpose-built marquee in the middle of the square, plane trees included – makes for a fun experience, and Mr. Fogg’s pop-up bar and an upstairs brasserie are on hand if you need time to digest your decision – or celebrate your acquisition. ”

The UK has a thriving antiques industry and expert dealers can be found all over the country.

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Photo: Freshford Antiques

In London visit Kensington Church Street – notable for furniture are Patrick Sandberg and Butchoff Antiques and Mayfair – Adrian Alan and Mayfair Gallery.

West Sussex – Wakefield & Linfield, Spencer Swaffer Antiques Ltd., Thakeham Furniture Ltd, Tim Saltwell, Richard Gardner

Kent – Christopher Buck, Lennox Cato at Edenbridge Galleries

Gloucestershire – Geoffrey Stead, Christopher Clarke Antiques Ltd, Craig Carrington.

For approved-dealer offerings under one virtual roof for the rest of the year, thousands of pieces are available to browse online, at www.lapada.org

This article was written in association with LAPADA the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers.

Main image: Michael Lipitch’s stand at the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair

Further Reading