Do you ever wonder about the value of antique or designer furniture? We’re hearing that furniture may be a more lucrative investment than property, but just what exactly makes certain pieces so valuable? There are a number of things to consider and it’s important to remember, just as with other antiques and investment goods, ‘old’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rare’. At online auction platform Catawiki, a team of specialised design experts evaluate each submitted piece to determine the quality, authenticity and suitability for the auctions. They have shared a few factors that they look for when evaluating furniture to determine the value.

                                                                                                             Cees Braakman for Pastoe – sideboard DU03

1. Age

Just like many other investments, design furniture will increase in value with time. Therefore age must be taken into account when determining value. Some items are being reissued, therefore it’s important to remember that original and/or first productions are most often worth more.

2. Rarity

Rarity is a more important factor than age. While a piece may be old, it isn’t necessarily rare if it is still available in large quantities. A newer, rare piece will have more value than an older, common piece. Many items weren’t perceived valuable in the past, so they were thrown out and lost. Therefore it may be that items which were common and cheap back then are well sought after and valuable now.

3. Origin/Provenance

Documentation of the origin and/or provenance of your piece will help increase the value. It’s especially important to know the history of some pieces, because of the many knock-offs that are being made. For example, there are many fake Rietveld Red and Blue chairs around and the older ones weren’t signed or marked, so if the provenance checks out, it will add a lot of value.

                                                                                                              Gerrit Rietveld for Cassina – set crate chairs

4. Quality

The quality of furniture is how it was made. It can be defined by its craftsmanship and functionality. Not only should the piece show its quality through attention to detail, but also through functional aspects such as smooth closing doors and drawers as well as a clean finish. It’s also important to consider the materials used when determining the quality of a piece. For example the quality of the leather/fabric, chrome, wood, and filling of cushion (down is expensive) can affect the value.

5. Condition

Not to be confused with quality, condition is the state the piece is in now. How well it has survived the test of time is also an important factor in determining value. A piece in excellent condition will, of course, have a higher value than a comparable piece in poor condition. Factors that increase the value include original finish, original upholstery and, original glass just to name a few. Factors that will decrease the value include damaged veneer, oxidation, missing labels, cracks, chips, missing parts, stains, scratches, etc.

                                                                                                     De Sede – sofa; famous for using superb quality leather

6. Authenticity

If a piece bears a genuine designer or manufacturer’s mark, chances are high that it will be more valuable. In addition to marks, you can also look at the style and materials to determine whether your piece is authentic. Some pieces will bear false marks so it’s important to examine closely and do your research. If you want to be really sure, you can always seek out an expert’s advice.

7. Demographics

Some items weren’t sold worldwide so they could be scarce in one country which increases the value. Additionally some brands or designers are well known and sought after locally, while perhaps nobody is as interested in their work in other areas or countries. As it is quite expensive to ship items transatlantic, this can increase the value of a piece as well.

Hopefully this list has inspired you to buy and sell furniture at Catawiki’s Design auctions now that you know what their experts look for when determining value.

If you have a design item that might be worth something, ask an estimation on MeArto. After the estimation, you can put your special furniture at auction on Catawiki.

Registration for becoming a seller at Catawiki is for free, so even if your item isn’t sold for the price you had in mind, you won’t have to pay Catawiki any placing fees. So what are you waiting for, get your furniture estimated.

They Catawiki auctioneers are standing by to see what you have to offer and to help you present your items to the 12 million potential bidders who visit Catawiki every month. You only need to register for a free account to get started with selling and consulting their experts.