What's It Worth? Brown is Down

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What's It Worth? Brown is Down

My, how things have changed. For true aficionados who follow the antiques market, this isn’t new — but many may be surprised that brown is down.

As we’ve written about in the past, value changes from decade to decade as tastes change. Antique dealers and auction houses worldwide lament and talk derisively about “brown goods.” From the 1950s to the ’80s, brown furniture, whether antique early American or arts and crafts, permeated our business. I remember doing shows in the ’80s with contracts saying one rule of the show was no brightly colored or modern chrome goods. Today, brown furniture from all eras, unless rare or early American, is often left in houses after the rest of the contents have been cleared out. The profit margins are too small, and it is too labor-intensive to cart these pieces around in trucks, clean them up and find places large enough to store them — truly frustrating for dealers.

Additionally, experts cite the poor auction results for the once-popular Hudson River paintings that are primarily brown foliage and brown cows. There’s still a market for them and we do buy them — but what is hot right now is colorful mid-century modern paintings and collectibles with odd shapes and eclectic designs from the 1970s and ’80s. From a home renovation specialist, we recently took on consignment two gilded 1970s palm trees by Hans Kögl. Retail sites would ask $15,000 for these 6-foot tall mid-century-modern gilded trees. Our auction estimate is meager in comparison at $3,000 to $5,000.

If you are interested, please contact us to find out how to bid on these masterpieces.

Let us bid on your valuable furnishings and collectibles. You have seen us in Forbes Magazine, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Stop in or call 727.896.0622 for an appointment.

Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com.

Hess Fine Art - Fine Art, Auction, Watch and Antique Experts Since 1984

Hess Fine Art, 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

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