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Map dealer Jim Dickinson.

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1 What is your focus?

Genuine antique maps of the United Kingdom only, specialising in the Midland and northern counties as well as Wales and Scotland. Most map dealers are centred in the south of England so I have a fairly clear run in the areas I cover.

2 One great discovery you’ve made?

In 1626 John Bill issued a series of miniature maps. These were superficially similar to the more common miniatures by Pieter Van den Keere, which are a fraction of a price, but Bill’s much rarer maps were the first to have lines of latitude and longitude and collectors are always keen to acquire a John Bill of their county. One little-known fact is that his atlas was issued not once but twice. I have 11 of Bill’s county maps available.

3 What is one challenge to the trade?

New customers tend to be influenced by the ridiculous discounts seen on TV programmes. I politely tell them that if the BBC were to give me the difference they could have their significant discount.

Fortunately, regular customers are usually ready to accept the price listed because a relationship of trust has been built up.

I always give a discount off the ticket price, as an incentive, irrespective of whether the buyer is a new or established customer.

4 Has the internet had an effect of business?

It has altered people’s buying habits but I find that many of my collectors want to see for themselves what they are buying. Photographs online can be enhanced rather like the images in auction catalogues. I still find antiques fairs profitable – long may this traditional way of exhibiting continue.

5 How can relationships with clients change?

In a couple of cases, I have educated my clients so well that they search independently for their maps and buy from me less frequently. C’est la vie.

jamesbd@btinternet.com

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