Vintage Furniture In India
After spending a few days in Kolkata I fly to Jodhpur where I meet Dharma, our adviser in Jodhpur. The ancient city is widely acknowledged to be the best place to buy vintage furniture in India. Dharma has been in the antique furniture trade for over 30 years having worked for several of the large dealers. 15 years ago he set up his own consultancy business. He has an unrivalled knowledge of the antique and vintage dealers. He also has great knowledge of the sellers and dealers in Jodhpur. We have been working with Dharma for almost 12 years. Although we have been buying furniture for over 13 years, having a very knowledgeable local contact is indispensable.
Like buying antiques in the UK, many dealers specialise in certain types, eras and styles. So if you want to see a range of reclaimed doors and windows, there are several people who sell specific products only. Of course there are many who are ‘generalists’ selling everything.
There are hundreds of businesses selling antique and vintage furniture. Some have been in the business for 30 years and others are start ups with a couple of carpenters and a small stock of furniture. I always return to dealers I have bought from before and see what they have available. We trust their skilled workers and carpenters. I always buy on my first visit as their stock changes daily. The vintage furniture are also all unique pieces.
Of course we have to be confident that it’s what we want and what we are prepared to pay for it. This is why I always select and inspect every single piece of vintage furniture we buy. I tend to have a good tour of dealers’ warehouses and yards and then tour again to mark pieces I want to buy. This gives them an indication of the value and quantity. This could also mean they give us more competitive prices.
By the end of the day I have bought several hundred pieces of furniture. Around 25% need light restoration: a light washing to remove dirt, surface sanding and waxing. 25% need extensive restoration to work to replace panels and drawers, tighten very loose joints and replace hinges. I will return in a couple of days to several dealers to see how the working is getting on.
Restoring Vintage Furniture
Team Scaramanga have the opportunity to specify how they would like the furniture restored and repaired. We may want the paint left on and not stripped off. We think it is important to give the vintage piece justice and showcase the years of use. This can include historical repairs or changes to the wood’s colour. We really do not like seeing pristine and perfectly restored antique furniture that has lost its acquired history.
I was delighted to discover chests that were buried under piles of reclaimed wood. They are wonderful compact chests of drawers which make bedside cabinets, side tables and children’s storage chests.
We buy all of our antique furniture together which usually leads to quicker negotiations. It also usually allows us to get a better price.
Furthermore, Dharma arranges their delivery and checks that the restoration and repairs have been completed. He also carefully packs them into a container, which usually arrives 10 weeks after we buy the furniture.