Art & Design

Let’s Go Antiquing at Malvern Antique Market

By Pip Jarvis
5th Jul 2014

Pssst… Thinking about making some serious money in your spare hours? Now's the moment to explore antiques, the word being they're undervalued and ripe for investment. And a rummage in one of these ye olde shops around the inner city can bring joy to the most hardened consumer heart. Where else to pick up a tarnished old fork that turns out to be rare – and valuable? Or a sweet little brooch that to your surprise will go up – not down – in price every year you keep it. Vintage-savvy fashion folk, too, have long realised the value of those unique well-cut clothes of yesteryear, perfect for standing out from the rest of the churn and burn fashion pack.

I felt a real sense of anticipation strolling around Malvern Antique Market (Melbourne's oldest) in Armadale, a 250-square-metre shop where owners Ken Giblin and Di Edwards know what's selling, what's best for investment, and how to help ingénues start a prima collection. Their space supports 30 professional dealers who fill to the brim the cavernous emporium a few doors up from the corner of Kooyong & High Street. The range of jewellery is quirky, from most modest to high price tags. Add the expert who sells authentic movie posters from the first days of cinema through to the hits of 50s and 60s Hollywood, and you can still pick up an original art work from a bargain basement $150. 

Unlike some purists, Ken and Di  prefer to mix the old with the new, and in the last couple of years have introduced contemporary paintings and jewellery to sit beside the art nouveau lamp-bases and the Schiaparelli silk foulards, with more plans on the way.

Malvern Antique Centre, in the middle of the smart fashion strip and surrounded by high-end specialist design stores, is a gorgeous feast of jazz age enamel and silver filigree brooches, outré dress rings, quaint coins, boxes with wood inlays, delicate sculptures of porcelain, and lavish art deco hanging lights. Items run the gamut from the genuine "antiques" i.e. over 100 years old (like beautiful Whitby jet beads, old gold rings and bracelets) to simply vintage (50s – 60s) and then more modern retro (examples I spotted included a Spiderman ceramic plate and good old Arabia dinnerware, beloved of anxious 1970s hostesses).

It's one of several antique centres that also see more customers now wanting a piece of old Australiana –  a baby koala sitting on a tie pin, a hollowed-out emu egg, a turn-of-the-century evening bag in mother of pearl, or curiosities set with opals from the Cooberpeedy mines. I particularly liked the look of Galerie Trouve, showing new and old with modern jewellery and contemporary primitive paintings alongside some chinoiserie; and next to this is an amazing collection of Australian studio pottery.

So I ask, what's hot, if the plan is to go straight for an impressive investment? According to Di, the 2014 best list are any Georg Jensen silver collectibles, Scandinavian glass pieces from the 60s and 70s, and – so hot right now! – copper pans and jugs selling for $250 and going up and up.

Ken, who knows everything about the stock and happily doles out advice to new collectors, says: "I'd say specialise in something, research all you can online, visit all the shops and even try to go to a few auctions so you feel confident."    

Malvern Antique Market | 1008 High St Armadale
Website | 03 9509 6337
Open 7 days | 10-5 Mon-Sat, 11-5 Sun

Image Credits: Boden Images, Alex McIntyre (The Urban List).

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