If the period from 1900 to 2000 was considered “The American Century” perhaps the next 10 years will be known as “The Midwest Decade” in the world of antiques.
During the last several years, sellers and buyers from the Midwest have established their place in the antiques community as a serious force, bringing clout to established and emerging decorating and collecting trends.
As explained in this week’s cover story, Jackson’s International Auctioneers is just one more example of a Midwestern company making a global impact. In Jackson’s case, dealing in fine art has worldwide appeal. However the firm’s specialty in Russian religious icons has established it as the auction house of record for the American market.
Who would have predicted this in Iowa?
The same is taking place in Chicago, where Leslie Hindman Auctioneers has worked to develop an important niche in the vintage fashion and couture market. Chicago was always a stylish city but collectors can bet their bottom dollar they’ll lose their blues with Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Chanel.
In December an auction of more than 500 rare and important Murano glass designs was offered in Indianapolis, Ind., a collection that was amassed over 40 years by William D. “Bill” Ansley. To the amazement of his fellow collectors, Ansley accomplished this feat almost entirely from his home base of Topeka, Kan.
The collection further lends credence to my belief that the Midwest is a gold mine for important design. I suspect this trend will only increase in the next 10 years as collectors age and new troves are rediscovered.
Show promoters too are rethinking marketing goals as the old adage “Will it play in Peoria?” guides some of their buying decisions. While it’s true collectors don’t travel as much as they did in years past, big league buyers are still making money in the Midwest and they like to put their money in antiques.
The advent of using the Internet to trade antiques and collectibles can be credited to opening new routes to customers. Jackson International’s James Jackson Jr. has embraced technology with the mind set that he could use it to help his customers. Jackson calls the Internet the “great leveler,” which is actually bringing more collectors into the market.
However, it creates a perfect “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” situation: the Internet is bringing prices down while attracting more collectors. To Jackson, and the Midwest, it means service and relationships will be worth even more in the next decade.
Expect the Midwest to emerge a winner.
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