How the trade used to be
A family business nearly 100 years ago

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While chatting with clients and colleagues, conversations often amble through the mists of time, conjuring thoughts and conjecture on “how the antiques trade used to be!” It has certainly changed enormously in my lifetime.

As a child growing up surrounded by the antiques business, I remember the van unloading and loading stock every day, the workshops a constant hive of activity, and the shop door bell constantly chiming the tunes of happy customers crossing the threshold. My father and grandfather were viewing several really good sales a week up and down the country, with their catalogues brimming with hope, as well as buying from the regular auctions at the main rooms in London. I recently prized open a dusty and rusty old wartime trunk to find it full of hand-annotated catalogues from sales in just three counties over a two-month period! I will also always remember how every family trip would always take at least two days longer that it would today. With a good antique shop in most towns, buying on the way ‘there’ would at the very least pay for the trip and buying on the way home would always provide a profit.

So, yes times have changed! Where are the shops and what has happened to the London sales? Well we know the answer to these and other questions and it is true that stock is increasingly hard to find, but how exciting! The chase, the voyage of discovery and the absolute joy when that perfect early 18th century rarity becomes ‘yours’. What will never change is the exhilaration every dealer experiences when that private call unearths, untouched under layers of dust and indifference, the perfect colour and patina on the finest carved cabriole leg you have ever seen, calling from behind an unassuming chair and a pile of books!

It would be marvellous to share such tales and emotions with my great grandfather, despite how different our businesses must be … oh and to have access to his stock! Well, we do in some way. A few years ago I found some old photographic plates, taken in the 1920’s of his latest acquisitions in his Tring showrooms and I thought visitors to my virtual showroom might like a glimpse of “how the antiques trade used to be”. Should you see something that catches your eye, do let me know and let the chase begin!