Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

And as chairman of the Petworth Antique Dealers Association Richard can take some credit for the accolade.

He has just produced his latest catalogue of the stock at the shop in Market Square and illustrated, right, is the prize piece of furniture, a fine c.1850 specimen marble table, 2ft 2in (66cm) wide, acquired from a New Zealand private source and priced at £24,500.

Richard usually produces six catalogues a year but this is his last one for 2004 since on September 18 he opens a special exhibition Splendours of Imperial China and that is currently taking up most of his time.