“Britain’s antiques industry is thriving, and full of bright young things – an up-and-coming generation that are ensuring its vigour.”
This is the conclusion of the judging panel for the 2013 National Antiques Week Young Guns award, following their announcement of a shortlist of 12 selected from a large pool of entrants who were asked to submit the story of how they came into the antiques business, what drives their passion and how they are bringing that passion to the marketplace.
The idea for this award stemmed from a group of young dealers who have been connecting and helping each other out via Twitter for several years as #AntiquesYoungGuns.
Gail McLeod, of the awards panel and organiser of National Antiques Week, is delighted with the quality of the entries. "Each one shows the true spirit that we were looking for and all are trail blazers in their own right," she says. "Without exception, their greatest connection is that they fell in love with old objects at a very young age;they live by their passions for pieces of history that 'sing' to them."
The 2013 winner and two runners-up will be announced on April 25 during the Spring Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair at a ceremony sponsored by the fair's organiser. The Decorative Fair will also host a special foyer display of stock drawn from many of the contenders in this year's Young Guns award, curated by Mark Hill, member of the awards panel and exhibitor at the Decorative Fair.
National Antiques Week runs from April 20 to 28. If you have special activities planned for this week please let the organisers know. Full details at www.nationalantiquesweek.co.uk.
Profiles of the shortlisted entrants for the 2013 National Antiques Week Young Guns award:
Robbie Timms (30), Bedfordshire
S&S Timms Antiques from Ampthill, Bedfordshire, one of the founding members of the original #AntiquesYoungGuns. He brings a new outlook to the traditional furniture side of the trade. Robbie launched the world's first antiques shop iPhone/iPad App. Joined the family antiques business aged 16, and has 'upped the ante' by exhibiting at the UK's top fairs.
Natalie Smith (32), Woodbridge
Opened her own antique centre at only 26 years old and proves that antique centres are not just an old person's game. Got the antiques bug while visiting car boot fairs with her dad, took a degree in Italian, worked for a jewellers in Venice but really got into dealing when she helped sell some of her father's collections.
Keeley Harris (36), York
Runs Discover Vintage & Vintage Emporium, has been making waves from her shop in York and from the various fairs she runs throughout the country. Fell in love with a Victorian doll's house aged eight, and spent her teens buying at car boots and charity shops to sell on at antiques fairs. Interim jobs in events have helped her create very interactive vintage shows.
Kieran Mathewson (26), Herefordshire
Dealer in tribal art, architectural reclamation and country furniture. Has carved out a career through determination and a love for objects. First struck aged eight by a pewter tankard in a South African antiques shop that looked like one he had seen in a pirate movie -"I remember my heart racing, wondering about its history. That feeling is a high I have been chasing ever since!"
Paul Jones (29), N. Wales & Chester
Runs Morgan Fairs in Wales and has his own shop in Cheshire specialising in Victorian pine and country furniture, and smaller items including books, folk art and kitchenalia. His parents are in the trade (specialist Welsh and vernacular furniture dealers).
Paul was a mechanic until he realised his heart was really in antiques. Dealt at fairs for two years before opening his own shop.
Timothy Medhurst (21), Chelmsford
Turned a childhood love of coins in to a career as an auctioneer specialising in the numismatic world. Determined to bring a youthful edge to a field sometimes seen as old and stuffy. The youngest of our short-list, Timothy aged 10 was first amazed by a Victorian crown coin shown him by his grandmother. That sparked a collecting craze he developed into an online dealing business whilst still at school.
Matthew Nunn (37), Reading
Runs Apsley Antiques Ltd & Fleaglass Ltd and has been bringing the scientific antiques market to a whole new generation.
Spent years working in engineering but was hooked on antiques as a child, and started dealing when eBay launched.
Adam Partridge (39), Macclesfield
Adam is still a young gun, but has achieved so much in auctioneering after some major early set-backs. Well known from TV (Flog It! et al). His first purchase: a small oil painting, bought with pocket money aged eight, which he still has. Read classics at Oxford but spent more time haunting fairs and auctions.
Sam Loxton (33), London
Travels the world sourcing the finest jewellery for Lucas Rarities Ltd and has a love for the finest items. In his words: "I consider myself a champion of antique jewellery…" He adored old books and antiques; soon after school he was offered two jobs at once - with the National Art Library and with Christie's as a porter in the jewellery department. He took the latter and has been utterly dedicated to jewels ever since.
Chris Oxley (36), Wiltshire
Another founding member of the #AntiquesYoungGuns, busy rejuvenating the timeless world of fine clocks. His parents established P.A.Oxley Antique Clocks, and Chris started going on buying trips with them from the age of 10. He joined the business after leaving school, and now runs it with his mother.
Alys Dobbie (29), Cornwall & E. Sussex
Owns two vintage shops under the Nana Dobbie brand, one in Brighton and one in Lostwithiel, Cornwall; causing a stir in the 20th century collectables and vintage worlds. Another who fell in love with 'retro' whilst car-booting with her dad. Tried art college but couldn't resist temptation to deal. Studied in order to do her own modern furniture restoration, and says her business has only ever used recycled packaging!
James Gooch (30), Bedfordshire
Another founding member of the #AntiquesYoungGuns, runs Doe & Hope, a web-based antiques and curios shop that aims to bring a bit of fun and showmanship to the trade. Early obsession with antiques television programmes. With a BA in film & video, he first worked as a runner and researcher in TV production. A small legacy from his grandmother was what prompted him to set up shop.