Martin Lister deals at InVogue Antiques

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1 How did you get your start?

I really started twice. The first time was in 1977, at university in Bradford, buying large Chinese ceramics in and around the city and selling them in Brighton.

If only I knew then what would happen to this market. I’d love to get my hands on almost any of the large pieces I sold back then.

The second time was in 1988, with a passion for Art Deco and a collection which filled the house.

2 What got you hooked on the trade?

My first fair. I spent years buying and then weeks carefully cleaning, pricing and packing our stock. I bought stands and a table cover, then packed the car, not really knowing what to expect. It was mad – the trade devoured 75% of our stock in the first hour and we were off and running.

3 What do buyers look for when buying furniture these days?

It tends to be the ‘usefulness’ of a piece of furniture above all else. It must do what it is supposed to do perfectly, regardless of its age.

Country furniture still has a solid following as it’s not too precious and works well in today’s homes.

4 How has the market changed?

Hugely, of course. The depth of passion is still there, but the breadth – the number of customers – has been significantly reduced.

The rise in interest in mid-century modern and Arts & Crafts is great to see although the decline in 19th century furniture is not so good. Antiques now follow fashion.

5 What is your advice to new collectors?

There is no substitute for research. If you are looking into an area which you love, it’s great fun and can be rewarding.

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