Antiques & Collectibles: What’s “In” Now

What’s “In” Now?

Astor Galleries’ “Top 10” list reports on antiques and collectibles that are selling fast and currently in demand. Tip: Small, functional, and nostalgic.

Gold and silver jewelry and coins are hot. If you check out the latest financial news, you will find gold value is on the rise. With this news, many people want to add precious metals to their investment portfolio. Have an old gold charm bracelet that you haven't worn in 20+ years? It is a great time to sell. US coins from 1964 and older dimes, quarters, and half dollars, 1921 and earlier Morgan Dollars, 1935 and earlier Peace Dollars.

Costume jewelry is the most popular item. Vintage is more affordable than new, but pieces marked with makers’ names like Miriam Haskell, Hattie Carnegie and Trifari sell for more now than in the last 10 years. Modernist silver jewelry is hot, especially Mexican pieces by William Spratling and American pieces by Art Smith. Look for pearls, long chains, enamel bangle bracelets and anything with big colored stones, like large pins and cocktail rings.

Asian Antiques and Collectibles. Asian cultures are among the oldest in the world and are associated with some of the finest and most interesting antiques and collectible objects on the planet. Innovation and top-notch artistry led to the creation of fine porcelain ware, painted silk scrolls, and paper screens, seen in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian cultures.

Studio pottery. Twentieth-century American art pottery has been catching eyes and higher bids. Since the 1970s, art potteries like Rookwood and George Ohr got the most attention, but works by smaller, not-so-famous potteries are growing in popularity and getting good prices. Some late 20th-century studio potters: Beatrice Wood, Peter Voulkos, Otto and Gertrud Natzler, Edgar Littlefield, John Mason, Henry Varnum Poor, Antonio Prieto, Herbert Sanders, and Frans Wildenhain.

Vintage purses and scarves. The luxury secondhand market, a phenomenon that started only 10 years ago, is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Some pre-owned accessories are selling for more than new. Look for Judith Leiber, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Coach, Vera and Gucci.

Fifties’ furniture, not “brown.” Today’s buyers are on the hunt for blond and light wood pieces from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s – sofas, chairs, tables and desks with sleek design and clean lines. Oak and clunky is out. Anything marked Eames, Saarinen, Bertoia, Nelson, Wormley, Robsjohn-Gibbings, Finn Juhl, Herman Miller or Knoll is in demand, but unmarked and less expensive midcentury pieces are also wanted. Fast-selling accessories that complete “the look” include 1950s pole lamps, floor lamps and table lamps, metal wall hangings, and iconic plastic chairs.

Space memorabilia. Baby boomers were at an impressionable age for moon landings and are snapping up items with historic value, especially when signed – pins and patches, photographs and magazine articles from early launches through the space shuttle flights. Higher prices are paid for things that have actually flown in space and they go into orbit for items that have gone to the moon.

Vintage Christmas. The trend for true vintage and antique decorations at Christmas continues. Shiny Brites, bottle brush trees, Buddy L trucks and Santa-anything. American made Shiny Brites, are the epitome of mid-century holiday décor. Look for “Shiny Brite” or “Made in U.S.A.” marks on the metal cap, with the most unique and unusual garnering the highest prices.

Vintage Watches. The vintage watch marketing is booming. With brands such as Omega, Longines, Oris and Rolex all jumping on the vintage bandwagon. The current move in trends which seems to be going away from oversized, chunky watches, back to the traditional sizes of original watch models means the demand for vintage watches is increasing.

Banks, mechanical and “still.” As major collections of mechanical banks are being sold, prices are high and going to established collectors. But less pricey tin banks are attracting new, younger collectors.

If you are looking for what's hot, gold is golden. Pass on your grandmother’s figurines and head for her vintage rings and brooches. Skip the mahogany corner cabinet but consider the midcentury modern desk. And do not ignore the toys – they are also going up in value, especially if you have the original packaging.