Auction/Country House/Showroom? What is condition?


In these car images the "as found" condition and the "Showroom" condition are obvious. With furniture there may be very little visual difference between its used condition after 200 years in a Country House, and showroom condition.

In the antiques trade dreamtime, early last century, dealers bought stock at auctions from grand Country Houses, and the term "Country House condition" entered the vernacular as meaning as it comes from the family: unrestored, wobbly, chipped, scuffed, and threadbare. In our age of retail auctions, furniture is often sold at glossy auction rooms. Hence, "auction condition" is the present jargon for lived-in furniture. The transformation from auction condition to showroom condition can include the work of the skilled cabinetmaker, carver, polisher and upholsterer. This often costly process is essential for the furniture to be robust and beautiful. The phrase "just needs a bit of glue" invariably means spending at least $200 per chair, if properly done, before polishing and upholstery. This is why we make clear distinction in our descriptions as to the condition of items. The $1500 set of slightly wobbly (or probably soon to be wobbly), unrestored chairs might become a $5000 set of chairs with skilled restoration (with no more to spend for generations!). Of course, buying auction condition items does allow you control over the restoration process.

Thanks to the Mongomery Funds ad, Architectural Digest December '97, for the car images.

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