Architectural antiques have long been sought after for reuse. As long ago as the 19th century, when cities like Paris were undergoing profound transformations, architectural antiques were already the subject of intensive trade. In an 1884 issue, the newspaper L’écho du parlement describes a warehouse visit by a well-known demolisher of the period, M. Achille Picart:
“One day we went, Sardou and I, to this vast building site where we found piled up [...] all of the detritus of a demolished Paris: historic old firebacks, wrought iron gates, marble bathtubs, illuminated joists from a famous hotel, like the hôtel Lesdiguières, stairwells, shutters from Flemish houses [...].”
Although such richly crafted old mansions are no longer demolished as carelessly today, the market for unique architectural items is still well established. The demand for architectural components with great historical, sculptural or artisanal value is high.
These unique and sometimes quirky pieces generally find a place in building and development projects that are specifically designed around them. Such items are also sought after in the context of restoration projects.
The ’architectural antique’ category includes a wide range of building and decorative items, from the colonnade (in cast iron or cut stone) to the architectural details (a bronze rose window, for example). These are usually items that can be distinguished by their historic and unique character. Among the elements likely to be found with architectural antique dealers are:
- columns (cast iron, cut stone, etc.)
- exceptional woodwork and door/window frames
- elaborate consoles
- sculptures, gargoyles
- drinking troughs, fountains
- putlog hole covers
Some items are sold ‘as is’. Others have been cleaned and restored.
The prices of architectural antiques can be high for the most exceptional items.