The antiques market as a whole is very bullish. There is lots of activity. A feeling of optimism pervades the auction room, and prices are going up.'' This statement by David Redden, senior vice-president of Sotheby Parke Bernet in New York, tends to sum up a general feeling toward forthcoming major antiques shows and auction sales.
Wendell Garrett, editor and publisher of Antiques Magazine, agrees that ''the antiques market looks very good right now and for the future. We are on a normal course again after that hyped-up, inflated, and artificial market of a few years ago, and I feel greatly encouraged.
''A lot of that fast money from investors who were investing for all the wrong reasons has now left the field,'' Mr. Garrett continues. ''Blue-chip items , of course, continue to go up in price. But young collectors are finding much to interest them in the objects made in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This later period is being increasingly 'legitimized' by its inclusion in major museum and institutional collections, so individual collecting will become increasingly vigorous.''
Russell Carrell, manager of the prestigious Winter Antiques Show to be held in New York Jan. 21-29, comments, ''Business is good and there is a consistent demand for top quality in all categories. I see a trend toward antique textiles. People have finally become aware of their importance, and museums are becoming more interested in them, too. Look for some great needlework pictures at upcoming shows. English furniture and American Country remain strong, and we'll be seeing an array of good porcelain.''
Show chairman Mario Buatta agrees that the Winter Antiques Show, with its 72 American and European dealers, is ''a great barometer as to what is happening in the antiques market.''
Mr. Carrell is equally optimistic about other coming shows he manages: the University Hospital Antiques Show in Philadelphia, April 11-15; the Baltimore Museum Antiques Show, May 18-20; and the Lake Forest-Ferry Hall Antique Show in Lake Forest, Ill., June 8-10.
The Washington, D.C., Antiques Show (Jan. 11-15), which led off the 1984 season, emphasized the growing importance of fine English, European, and Chinese export ceramics and porcelains. Show manager Art Jackson comments, ''This heightened interest in porcelain, as well as in antique crystal and silver, corresponds to a return to more elegant and formal styles of living. Gourmet cooking is at a peak. So are grander table settings.''
Henry S. Coger, manager of the Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show in Dallas (March 8-11), says, ''Every year, Texas and the entire Middle West become more sophisticated markets for antique dealers. This year, by demand, we are adding marine arts and military antiques to our roster of exhibitors, and we find that interest in American antiques grows stronger each year. It is our feeling that prices, except for the most rare pieces, have stabilized greatly.''
Christie's auction gallery in New York reported a 51 percent gain in the July-to-December period of 1983 over the same period in 1982. During this period , sales of American decorative arts increased by 344 percent, impressionistic paintings by 120 percent, American pictures by 82 per-cent, books and manuscripts by 251 per-cent, and Oriental antiques by 93 percent.
Dean Failey, vice-president in charge of American decorative arts at Christie's, remarks, ''After a two-year hiatus of the mini-recession, when American decorative arts simply entered a plateau period, this last year it all came alive again, and we are having a great season. Folk art has not only stabilized, but had a correction that has brought prices down to saner levels. The 1840-1880 19th-century revival styles, such as Belter and Rococo, have taken corrections.
''We predict that many young collectors this year will be concentrating on finding the best in the $3,000 to $20,000 range, and that they will find tremendous variety and choice. But we also think they will be less concerned about, and put off by, minor repairs and restorations.''
William Doyle of William Doyle Galleries in New York states, ''Good American pieces at our gallery are like solid gold, because they are so hard to find. Good English furniture has never sold better. But ordinary Victoriana hasn't gone up a nickel. And we find that our good reproduction market has died on the vine. The real 18th-century Meissen porcelain is coming back, and even 19 th-century Meissen has doubled in value over the past year and a half. German buyers are here in greater numbers, and the Japanese are still coming to buy paintings.''
David Redden of the Sotheby's gallery in New York says, ''One of the strongest indicators of the healthy auction antiques market today is the overwhelming interest in all facets of Americana. For beginner-collectors, he says, American turn-of-the-century silver is relatively inexpensive at auction and offers quality, style, and design. He cites especially examples by Tiffany and Gorham.
Mr. Redden also cites good buys in Staffordshire pottery, both the blue and white plates and single and multiple figures. Pottery and everyday dishware, he says, can be had at auction for $30 to $40 per plate. He notes that it is still possible to find good buys in American textiles such as quilts and coverlets. And 19th-century American furniture is often beautifully crafted, he adds, but is still undervalued at auction. He also claims that although the field of American autographs is escalating rapidly, new collectors can still find many letters written by famous people for less than $1,000.