Collecting in 2017: 15 expert predictions
It wasn't only the politics that astonished the world in 2016...
In October, a vintage Patek Philippe became the world's most valuable wristwatch, selling for $11 million.
The original laws of baseball, from 1857, sold for $3.2 million in April.
And Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday Mr President" dress auctioned for $4.8 million in December.
What will the collecting world bring us in 2017?
Industry experts give us their predictions for the next 12 months, and reminisce about the year just gone...
Car specialist | RM Sotheby's
"We expect to see increased interest in modern classics"
2016 was again a positive year for the collector car sector.
We continued to witness demographic shifts, with increased participation from a younger generation of collectors (under 50 years of age). This has gone hand in hand with growing interest in ‘modern classics’, which is now extending into cars of the 90s and 2000s through to present day hypercars.
When it comes to this segment, low mileage, single ownership and great maintenance history are crucial, with clients digging deep for the right cars. The latter rings true for the market at large: collectors are becoming more sophisticated and seeking out the ‘best of the very best’.
Great examples of landmark models are continuing to demand premiums as the price delta between ‘great’ and merely ‘average’ cars widens.
Certain blue-chip models such as Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs, Ferrari Daytonas and others in this price bracket have fallen from their highs of 2014. We believe this is simply a supply-demand driven correction. The rate of return for such vehicles over the last few years was extraordinary, and as a result, unsustainable should it have continued. This market correction is certainly no reason for alarm, rather it is good news and suggests the market is stabilizing and maturing.
We expect the global collector car market will remain relatively steady in 2017. The top end of the market ($10M+) shows no signs of slowing, with cars being treated more and more as forms of alternative investment. Continuing the trend of 2016, we also expect to see increased interest in modern classics and are excited to be presenting various thrilling examples from this category at our early 2017 events in Arizona and Paris.
Sales manager | Silverstone Auctions
"Fast Fords show no signs of slowing down"
Our salerooms were busier than ever in 2016 with many new clients buying and selling with us.
At the beginning of 2016 there was uncertainty at the upper end of the market spectrum. Porsche, Jaguar and Ferrari prices seemed to be levelling off but more affordable 70s, 80s and 90s classics were still performing well.
Brexit was a large shock to everyone. I think many people within our industry were concerned by the impact it would have on our business. However, whilst fluctuating currency markets made it less appealing for collectors to import classics, we saw increasing numbers of European and American bidders towards the second half of the year, taking advantage of a weak pound.
What is evident in times of uncertainty is that alternative investments such as gold, wine, art and classic cars perform better than traditional financial investments.
This year we have seen a mixture of enthusiast and investment buyers. We generally sell to individuals that have an existing interest in cars, but there is no doubt that they are becoming better educated in what cars are rising fastest. So investment is at the back of their minds, but I think enthusiasm for the cars comes first.
Fast Fords show no signs of slowing down, as they are by far the most popular marque in the UK. They have almost twice as many hits on our website than any other manufacturer. This suggests interest in the Ford market and rising prices will continue well into 2017.
Director | Fellows
"All vintage steel chronographs are possible candidates for uplift in 2017"
The main story of 2016 was the continuing strengthening of Rolex in the pre-owned market. Early signs came in January when quite ordinary 5513 Submariners started exceeding £4,000 although by the end of the year almost anything with a coronet was surpassing expectations, with particular interest in late model GMT Master IIs and Daytonas.
The promotional efforts from Rolex’s cheaper sibling, Tudor, have paid off and the pre-owned market is seeing high prices for early Submariners, especially the distinctive ‘Snowflakes’.
For 2017, I expect a continuation of the Rolex / Patek Philippe theme, particularly vintage, with an emphasis on original condition.
Heuer prices will continue to climb, although which specific references remain to be seen.
Early Omega 321 calibre Speedmasters have done well recently but are still undervalued, as are vintage Breitlings (Top Times are creeping up, now topping £1,000 – twice what they were two years ago but the 806 Navitimer has yet to move in the same way).
All vintage steel chronographs are possible candidates for uplift in 2017, as much for their size and wearability as their sporting credentials.
With uncertainly about which watches constitute ‘the next big thing’, I anticipate a greater influence from the press, watch blogs and social media. With opinion taken as fact and acted upon there is the potential for ‘bubbles’ to be created - but that is only my opinion.
Worldwide head of wine | Sotheby's
"The market for rare wines that are ready to drink continues to be very strong"
With a 22% increase in auction sales to $74 million, we significantly outperformed the market in 2016.
The market for rare wines that are ready to drink continues to be very strong, while younger wines are maintaining their prices and are reasonably stable.
We expect strong demand to continue in 2017 and look forward to announcing a strong series of sales.
Whisky specialist and auctioneer | McTear’s
"Japanese whisky is appearing more and more frequently at auction"
2016 was another bumper year for the rare and collectable whisky auctions at McTear’s in Glasgow, with whisky retaining its reputation as one of the best alternative investments. The ‘big hitters’ of Macallan, Bowmore and Ardbeg have all performed spectacularly well, with 18- and 25-year-old expressions of Macallan typically doubling in value over the space of 12 months.
Japanese whisky is appearing more and more frequently at auction, with buyers embracing not only its investment potential, but also being attracted to the exceptional quality of the liquid from distilleries such as Yamazaki and the now closed Karuizawa.
Unfortunately, not all whisky increases in value, so we have seen less desirable bottlings struggling to attract much interest from bidders. Examples include ceramic Bell’s decanters, which are now consistently selling for only £10 each.
2017 promises much more of the same, with our January 13 auction featuring a Black Bowmore, a Springbank Millennium set and a bottle of GlenDronach signed by President Elect Donald Trump. Indeed, the rise to power of Mr Trump has demonstrated the mantra of all auctioneers: anything can happen – no matter how unlikely!
John F Kennedy memorabilia
CEO | RR Auction
"The coming centennial of John F Kennedy’s birth will surely bring a revived interest in this most beloved American president"
RR Auction had another record-breaking year in 2016. Space and aviation, pop culture, music, Olympics and science & technology were among our strongest markets.
The Mario Puzo archive, featuring The Godfather trilogy, sold for an astounding $625,000, Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott’s lunar surface-used Zeiss lens sold for over $450,000, a 1984 LA Olympics gold medal achieved nearly four times its original estimate - ultimately reaching $40,000 in our first Olympics auction on record.
Autographs and manuscripts remain our mainstay market, but artifacts have been garnering increasing interest and high hammer prices.
Though the auction industry is notoriously unpredictable, we are encouraged and excited for what lies ahead in 2017, with the full expectation of continued growth in these promising genres.
The coming centennial of John F Kennedy’s birth will surely bring a revived interest in this most beloved American president, and as a Boston-based firm, we specialize in Kennedy memorabilia, having achieved many of the world’s highest prices.
In 2016, we sold a piece of handwritten JFK correspondence to mistress Mary Meyer for over $88,000 - the highest price ever achieved for a single Kennedy letter.
In 2017, we’ll be offering one of our most impressive items to date: JFK’s 1945 European Summer diary, as the opening salvo to our 100th anniversary Kennedy auction in May.
Consultant | Henry Aldridge & Son
"The Titanic market in particular attracted hundreds of new buyers in 2016"
Looking into our crystal ball, I feel demand for high quality collectables will remain buoyant in 2017. The Titanic market in particular attracted hundreds of new buyers in 2016. There are those who are buying for investment but also those who are fascinated by the subject, a pattern that is repeated in numerous collectors' markets.
Low interest rates and poor returns from lump sums in bank accounts will continue to see people buying and enjoying an object (whether it be a letter written on the Titanic or a painting) that, if purchased sensibly, could appreciate in value.
"Start searching for good quality 1990s and 2000s toys in original packaging"
2016 was another bumper year for Vectis Auctions with so many interesting and unusual lots.
How many of us have had a grumble at the new 5p carrier bag charge? In November a vintage carrier bag from the Palitoy staff shop went under the hammer, selling for a whopping £240!
The Palitoy "we care" bag carried logos from Palitoy products including Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back - which commanded the most attention and bids. So now we know, it's not just the boxes we need to keep with our toys, but the bags too!
Looking to 2017, it will be much the same. Toys within living memory for collectors remain strong - particularly those from the 1970s and 1980s. Start searching for good quality 1990s and 2000s toys in original packaging or on cards, especially those from film franchises!
Owner | John Bly Antiques Dealers
"Auctioneers are quoting ordinary estimates for extra ordinary items"
There was a time, before domestic antiques became gentrified and a must-have part of the furnishings, that one mid-Georgian silver tankard was the same as another; they were all the same price.
But of course they were not.
Some were purely the 'good standard' baluster model, but others were exceptional, made so by the silversmith's eye for proportion and balance, that extra bit of weight, that extra bit of moulding or the fineness of the engraved cartouche, and finally the coat of arms which could give the original owner and thus provenance.
It meant that while the majority of the silver trade could constantly turn a profit, those dealers with a discerning eye and, more importantly, a discerning client could occasionally make serious money.
And so, after more than 50 years, through a spiral and collapse, the same thing is happening now, particularly in 'brown' furniture. A pair of Queen Anne chairs is just a pair of chairs, a sideboard is just a sideboard and the auctioneers give them the same estimates. But once again in a poor, flat market the dealers with a good 'eye' - and they don't have to be old fogeys like me - can occasionally make a handsome profit by recognising exceptional characteristics and researching a provenance.
We had the best buying season for decades - thanks to auctioneers quoting ordinary estimates for extra ordinary items. This has meant keeping established clients interested and being able to stock pile just like we used to do.
Founder | Julien's Auctions
"2017 is shaping up to be even more remarkable"
After a massive record breaking 2015 of $30 million plus in sales, Julien’s concluded 2016 with similar overall results.
On November 17, 2016, Julien’s sold Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr President” dress for $4.8 million. Guinness Book of World Records recorded this as the most expensive dress ever sold at auction.
Aside from its prominent place in entertainment and music, the auction house also continued to expand its street art & contemporary art auctions, hosting five such themed auctions both on-site and online throughout the year.
The year 2016 was one of exciting auctions, astonishing results, extraordinary exhibits and monumental moments for Julien’s Auctions. The year 2017 is shaping up to be even more remarkable.
Founder | JewelStreet
"Antique jewellery and antique styling continues to be ‘on trend’ across bridal"
2016 was a record year for purchasing fine jewellery online. We saw a strong customer appetite for discovering new, international fine jewellery designers. Shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable buying high value jewellery online.
Key trends for 2017? Rose gold continues to be very popular, and in 2017 you will see this material used increasingly in bridal jewellery, especially engagement rings. Antique jewellery and antique styling continues to be ‘on trend’ across bridal, but increasingly into cocktail rings as well. For fashionistas, oversized earrings were all over the catwalks in 2016 and large hoops and ‘shoulder dusters’ will be en vogue through 2017.
The broad view
Founder | Paul Fraser Collectibles
"I can see a spike in demand for US WWI militaria"
Key anniversaries often spark greater demand for memorabilia. They create new collectors and encourage lapsed ones to engage with their hobby once more.
So look for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death in July to increase demand for her first editions, and the 100th birthday of John F Kennedy in May to add even more fervour to the JFK memorabilia sector.
But before those, we commemorate the centenary of the US' entry into the first world war in April. The event is going to receive widespread media attention, particularly in America. Consequently I can see a spike in demand for US WWI militaria. I'm particularly expecting to see growth for original US recruitment posters, which are so eye catching and collectible. Posters featuring an ape in a German uniform, with the slogan "Destroy This Mad Brute", are among the most famous and could well rise in value. As could "I Want You for U.S. Army" examples with the pointing figure of Uncle Sam – based on earlier British posters featuring Lord Kitchener.
Top condition examples of both sell for around £10,000 ($12,500). Millions were printed and many remain today, so always seek out the best quality - these have the best chance of rising in value.
Vice president and auctioneer | Pook & Pook
"The best items across all categories will continue to bring exciting prices"
The best items across all categories will continue to bring exciting prices, while lower-end pieces, particularly in the furniture sector, will be met with a more lacklustre reception.
Despite and in response to market fluctuations, Pook & Pook has an active 2017 schedule that includes additional toy and jewelry auctions as well as strong Americana, international, firearms, and decorative arts auctions.
Dealer and Antiques Roadshow glass expert | Reyne's website
"The stock market will rally which will create added confidence in consumer spending"
2016 was a great year!
Sales for 20th Century design and art were steady. I sold numerous Tiffany lamps, a great array of glass and several great works of art (paintings and sculpture).
Wearing a fine timepiece is still in fashion as I had numerous new watch collectors find their way to me, and diamonds (especially colored ones) are still a girl's best friend.
In the luxury goods market, prices for vintage Louis Vuitton are a little soft, as they are for Hermes Birkin bags, but that opens the door for many new buyers who could not afford them at the higher prices they were bringing a few years ago.
Predictions for 2017? The stock market will rally which will create added confidence in consumer spending and I think you'll find auction prices for the art world to be even higher than before.
Associate Director | Hanson's Auctioneers
"People are beginning to realise that an antique solid oak table for £100 is good value"
Brown furniture hasn't been performing well recently but there are signs it may be picking up, especially at the high end. People are beginning to realise that an antique solid oak table for £100 is good value compared with something laminate for £300 from IKEA.
I'm also expecting to see continued growth in vintage watches, especially for quality names such as Rolex, Cartier and Jaeger LeCoultre. Art deco furnishings is another area to watch. People are really in to it.
The Chinese art market will still be strong in 2017, although it is cooling slightly compared with the huge boom of five years ago.
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