Any investment carries risk, and at the moment traditional investments such as bonds, property and stocks and shares, are not giving the expected returns that they once did. Now more than ever those that can afford it are investing in antique collectibles, one of the most stable long-term alternative investments – which can yield sizable profits.
The economy remains gloomy and the financial markets volatile, so high net-worth individuals and those with discernible, classic taste clamber to find tangible assets like art, wine, jewellery and fashion, books, furniture, and classic cars.
This type of investor will value heritage and classic design rather than disposable quick-fix purchases – timeless pieces that will only increase in value in the future. Ultimately, while there is a great deal involved in understanding vintage as an alternative investment, for those willing to learn, the rewards can indeed be large. Imagine investing in a stunning vintage piece of Chanel. A little bit of luxury that no-one else will have.
Does this sound impossible? Well, we’ve discovered a brilliant service that finds rare, interesting and authentic vintage pieces aptly called Vintage Seekers, and they love a challenge. Their collection is focused on pieces that are at least 25 years old, and no older than 100. And darling, this is NOT shabby chic, this is timeless elegance.
Vintage Seekers also offers a unique concierge seeker service. I imagine the team in Sherlock Holmes deer stalkers and capes, flying around the globe to get their hands on authentic, original, even iconic pieces – and yes, there is a pair of iconic black and gold clip-on Chanel earrings for £375 with my name on them. Job done!A few years ago, wealthy Middle Eastern and Asian enthusiasts were buying flashy supercars to flaunt their wealth. However, as impressive as such cars as the Lamborghini Murciélago are, they can depreciate by as much as £1,000 per week. This practice is far from dead, but the savvy amongst them are now more likely to favour an Aston Martin DB5, or a Ferrari 250.
And if you don’t have the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed to emulate Sean Connery, there are plenty of more viable options tipped for future classic status. The ground breaking Audi Quattro, the car that revolutionised rallying in the 1980’s, can be had for less than the price of a new mini – and there are many more to choose from, fitting all budgets.
Vintage Seekers encourage their clients to take advantage of investing in ‘future vintage’ pieces. These are pieces from recent years that are good investments for now and will become sought-after vintage. An example of this are the contemporary limited edition range of coffee table books available through Vintage Seekers.
Such books include part coffee table, part work of art limited edition on Marilyn Monroe pairing Norman Mailer’s 1973 biography text with Bert Stern’s photographs, along with his signature. Fantastically apt given the recent cinematic release of ‘My Week with Marilyn’.
Another find by the Vintage Seekers team is Barbie’s 50th anniversary collector’s edition book, presented in a linen box – a blend of nostalgia and whimsy. The perfect investment for those sharing the same birthday milestone, or perhaps a gorgeous investment to coincide with the birth of a new baby.
The first year of marriage is traditionally celebrated with the gift of paper. An investment in a classic novel as an anniversary gift is about thinking differently and investing money wisely. Classics by iconic authors that people know have a timeless value. Popular titles are ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ by Harper Lee, Ian Fleming’s ‘James Bond’, or anything by Ernest Hemingway.
Early editions of Fleming’s books have soared in value since the first copies of Casino Royale hit the shops in 1953 with a cover price of 10 shillings and sixpence. The late film director George Cosmatos, for example, owned a complete set of first ‘Bond’ editions, some inscribed to him by actors who had played Bond. Bound in custom covers made by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, this unique collection fetched more than £20,000 at Sotheby’s in 2005. (Information sourced from article published by the Financial Times, 2008).
According to Vintage Seekers, to be worth a significant amount, a book will need to be a first edition, complete with its original dust cover, and not a reprint.
A typical Vintage Seeker customer is cash-rich, time-poor; high net-worth individuals who want to find rare, high quality, authentic vintage pieces – whether it is a watch, an art print or an item of furniture – but don’t have the inclination to go trawling markets and galleries to uncover a gem.
They are a connoisseur collector and a ‘gift seeker’, who may not be au fait with vintage but wants to find something really unusual for a special occasion. There is also an aspirational younger audience, who might not be in the market to invest in such high value pieces yet but hope to in the future, and for now enjoy the editorial element of the Vintage Seekers’ online magazine.
I asked the Vintage Seekers’ team what their most precious find to date has been, and I’m fascinated to hear that it was a unique signed piece of Winston Churchill memorabilia – a 1942 British Airways dinner menu from Churchill’s flight back from meeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not only was this a total one-off, it refers to a seminal moment in history as it was on this trip that Churchill convinced the Americans to focus their efforts on defeating Nazi Germany rather than Japan during the conflict. ‘Without this 20th century history could have been drastically different, so this makes the piece very precious’. The menu was bought by a collector in New York.
On the tail of the much anticipated Madonna film W.E. the team also proudly speak of a Dior bolero made for and worn by Wallis Simpson. ‘This was a very beautiful, beaded, ice blue garment, and also related to another very famous 20th century figure’. They are of course speaking of the man who gave up the throne for love.
Vintage Seekers is in its second successful year. Plans are set for raising awareness and expanding the ‘Future Vintage’ collection.
‘ At the moment we have some pieces on the site that are under 25 years old but are representative of iconic, quality design from their period. We forecast these as being the sought-after vintage collectibles of the future’. Such pieces include a late 80’s Alaia dress, a 90’s Rolex, and a Peter Layton glass vase from this year.
Following a successful first birthday celebration at London’s RIBA last year, the team would like to hold more bespoke consumer events.
‘This is one way in which we can bring bricks and mortar principles to our online business, holding an intimate wine tasting or exhibition display in order to give our clients access to the tactile aspects of our products’.
Although the spotlight tends to shine on the upper tier of collectables, mostly out of reach of the average budget, investing in Vintage need not be a fantasy. Short-term gains are not be expected, but a little research, a level head, and a keen eye for detail, can reap it’s reward in years to come. I’ll certainly be carrying out some vintage seeking of my own, although I may be a little more classic Alfa Romeo than Aston Martin.