Antique dealers tell you beware the auctions, whilst auctioneers tell you to beware of crafty dealers. Here’s a look at what goes on in the antiques industry in the Cotswolds, how to buy wisely and whom to trust.
The word ‘Antiques’ these days has to be stretched to include a whole host of ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ shops that are bringing the antiques scene nearly up to date with valued and collectable items from much more recent times than the image of the industry. There’s a real boom in the whole vintage market, from clothing to music to decorative items that has bought ‘antique’ shopping to a whole new audience.
To begin at the beginning: In the 1970s and 80s a concentration of antique dealers formed in the Cotswolds. They were probably attracted by the aesthetics of a beautiful area with its honey colour villages, but also because the ancient houses and long established families that live here are also a source of antiques to be bought and sold. These days the Cotswolds is home of the largest concentration of art and antiques outside London.
The Cotswold Art & Antique Dealers' Association (CADA) was formed in 1978 and is the first and pre-eminent art and antique regional association in the UK. The membership now comprises 47 dealers.
So, if you’re interested in antiques or looking for a specific item, what are the best tips? Auction or dealer? Junk shop or specialist?
First of all, do bear in mind that dealers and shops are spread across many Cotswold towns and villages, although larger settlements such as Tetbury, Woodstock and Stow on the Wold have several shops. You’ll find them everywhere and anywhere.
If you have a particular wish list item and you know you are after high quality and assured provenance, then head for an antique dealer. CADA members display expertise in specialist fields and pride themselves on knowledge, integrity and reputation. Dealers can help with packing and freight worldwide.
For drama and perhaps a better expectation of scoring a bargain head for auctions which take place around the area, from Cheltenham to Cirencester and elsewhere. You never really have a guarantee of provenance at auctions, so you’ll be expected to take your chance and use your own knowledge to buy what you think you’re buying.
Top tips are to use as much charm as possible with dealers – it’s surprising how much they will respond to interested and friendly customers, just like anyone else. At antique auctions, it’s always recommended to have a top price firmly in your mind for an object before the auction starts.