There was a big turnout of 30+ members and non-members in July to hear Campbell Moon’s informative talk about antiques. He is well placed to do this having gone to Europe after leaving school to further his interest and passion. Campbell returned to New Zealand in the 1980s and has 50+ years trading in the Wellington region. He has now returned to his Wairarapa roots in Featherston where Marsden Antiques is a great place to stop.
An antique is considered a handmade work of good design, more than 100 years old. Otherwise an item is more likely “collectable” and, remember, not everything old is valuable – “as much rubbish then as now”. New Zealand is fortunate to have good quality antiques with many collections being formed in early 19th century. Contrary to popular belief the earliest settlers didn’t bring much in the way of furniture – the ships were too small. However many of the large stations were financed by the more portable “family silver chest” which banks would use as collateral. Campbell talked about a most important collection being that formed by Mrs Elgar to decorate “Fernside” in the Wairarapa when it was rebuilt in 1924 (following a fire) – she travelled to England to purchase furniture and fittings for the house. On her death she bequeathed two rooms of furniture to the “Dominion”. These are now held by Te Papa but sadly not on display.
The past 15 years has seen a huge decline in interest in antiques in New Zealand. The younger generation do not entertain at home and don’t require large dining tables, elaborate dinnersets or silver which need time to care for. In his experience it is the cheapest antiques have ever been although the top end of the market is holding. While minimalist look has been strong Campbell is optimistic of a revival coming as people get fed up with throwaway furniture.
But, his recommendation is to buy antiques for enjoyment, not investment.