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He makes no secret of the fact that he has enjoyed a very successful decade in the town, and is celebrating the anniversary with a special exhibition of Chinese antiques, entitled The Splendours of Imperial China, at his shop at Swan House, Market Square from this Saturday, September 18 to October 17.

This is an extensive and very much a selling show with the dealer, as usual, providing a broad spectrum of prices.

Although some of the rarer items will be priced at up to £40,000, there will be a surprisingly large selection available at well under £500, and an inscribed 17th century ceramic box will be available at £75.

The exhibition covers textiles, ceramics and a range of collectables dating back to the Han Dynasty.

It seems strong on antique clothing, with formal court robes in silk embroidered with exotic creatures, hair ornaments, fans and 3in (8cm) long shoes for for the feet of well-born women, bound since babyhood.

Ceramics abound with terracotta warriors from the middle of the 6th century, glazed Ming ceremonial figures, blue and white Ming ginger jars and an attractive and large pair of c.1860 Imperial pattern famille rose Canton vases at £19,000.

Richard Gardner has expanded his premises at Petworth and now has the biggest shop in town, where he carries a large, varied selection of antiques and pictures, with a consistently good selection of bronzes.

With regular, well-produced catalogues and a constantly changing, well-presented stock, there is no doubt that this dealer is as adept at marketing as he is at dealing.

The success Mr Gardner has enjoyed has not gone unnoticed by his peers, and, not surprisingly, his conspicuous ability to shine in hard times has led to some unflattering comments from others in the trade.

In fact, Mr Gardner's efforts have benefited the whole of the Petworth trade - witness his efforts at raising the profile of the 37-strong Petworth Antique Dealers Association, of which he is chairman.

The choice of Chinese antiques for this celebratory exhibition may surprise some, because up until now Oriental has not been part of the Gardner branding.

But you can bet it will be in the future and this exhibition is a way of bringing a new area of interest into the business as it enters its second decade.