The British Antique Dealers’ Association is to issue provenance certificates for items sold by members as from this week.
It is the first in what is expected to be a major series of
changes aimed at modernising the BADA as a proactive 21st century
Other measures also announced include opening up membership to
overseas trade - by invitation only - and to dealers in
Contemporary fine and applied works of art, all of whom would be
able to apply to take a stand at the BADA fair in London - a change
that necessitates the removal of datelines at the fair.
Further initiatives are also on the agenda but have yet to be
BADA chairman Michael Cohen, who has been driving the debate on
change in tandem with secretary general Mark Dodgson, stressed that
there would be no watering down of standards. The association would
not be easier to join, he told ATG, but he did want to make it
"more approachable". And he said that membership qualification
would still be ruled by what he called the four Es: Expertise,
Experience, Ethics and Excellence.
"We must feel absolutely confident that you know what you are
selling and that your stock and knowledge is of the highest level
of trading in your field," he said.
The certificates, aimed at boosting confidence between its
members and the public, will establish a lasting provenance at the
point of sale from BADA members. Individual items will not be
vetted, nor do the certificates guarantee authenticity, but they
will be registered permanently on a central BADA database.
The idea is that the certificate will then accompany the item
automatically when it is resold.
Attraction for Buyers
"Once an object is shown to have passed through the hands of a
BADA dealer, it will undoubtedly be better regarded in the
marketplace at large," said a spokesman.
Mr Cohen argues that the process will not only make objects more
attractive to buyers, it will also add value to being a BADA
He sets out his wider vision for the BADA in a letter published
in this week's ATG printed newspaper, explaining the contribution
his members make to the global market. Now he wants them to help
promote the association further, both for its and their own
benefit, and to help remove any doubt about its credentials as a
forward-thinking body providing essential services to members and
Mr Cohen, who has cut the number of BADA council meetings in
favour of focused working groups working towards specific goals, is
also working on what he calls a "softer approach" towards
membership applicants who are not deemed ready to join.
"In the past a lot of members were rejected first time round and
then did not have the confidence to reapply often for years
afterwards when they were indeed ready," he said. "Now, if someone
applies and isn't ready, we'll talk about their potential and give
guidance. We want to let them know that they are on the right road,
not knock them off it.
"The association is keen that those who apply for membership and
are rejected are not put off applying in the future and we will do
our best to try and make the process less daunting, whilst still
ensuring that standards are upheld."
Membership of BADA for overseas dealers is by invitation only
and the association has a procedure for pre-assessing a limited
number of potential members, prior to approaching them.
Although in the UK the procedure of dealers applying for
membership remains unchanged, it is possible that in the future
BADA will also invite certain UK-based dealers to become members,
but as with overseas dealers, only once assessment reports about
them have been obtained.
"We want to make the BADA an association that's fit for its
members. It needs to be known globally, and people need to know
what it stands for: it's the association for the top dealers, and
by members pushing the association in this way, they will also be
With a number of key initiatives still at the planning stage, he
is keen to remain as chairman for some time to come, especially as
he notes a wider appetite among members for change.
"We are working on a lot of ideas, and that's something I'd like
to see through," he said.
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