Ah, new year’s resolutions. Hope springs eternal when the coming year is a blank slate and self-improvement books have filled our Christmas stockings. Yet the success rate for new year vows is not encouraging.
So, in asking art market players the one big thing they resolve to do over the next 12 months, we asked them to steer clear of keeping fit, quitting smoking and saving more money.
Instead, our sample focused on the business of buying and selling art and antiques and any new, improved ways of doing so.
Heading back to basics
Louise Gostelow, Auctioneer and valuer, Dickins Auctioneers
Resolution: Refocus on my passion for antiques
It is all too easy to get swept up with ongoing current affairs affecting our industry, whether it be Brexit, GDPR, the ivory ban, to name but a few.
In the year ahead, it is important not to lose sight of why the majority of us work in the antiques world: a true passion for what we do. We love the items that pass through our hands and the people we meet. I plan to focus more on core values and never take anything for granted.
Claudia Hill, Ellison Fine Art
Resolution: Make time for my core job: selling portrait miniatures
This year will be filled with many challenging changes, such as Making Tax Digital, new administration around the selling of ivory portrait miniatures and of course the uncertainty of ‘deal or no deal’ Brexit, not to mention all the changes that will bring when trading with Europe.
I predict that my life will be swamped with the learning and implementation of new laws. However, my resolution will be to find the time and energy to do what I love most and that is to continue to buy and sell antique portrait miniatures.
Michael Baggott, Silver dealer
Resolution: Continue persuading the public about good antiques
If Brexit goes ahead and causes chaos, I shall become the Poldark of the antiques world, smuggling antiques in wooden barrels from mainland France, entirely throwing the customs officers off the scent, as they’ll never suspect for a moment that the public only want to buy the battered old barrels, not the antiques.
Seriously, I’ll endeavour to buy more antiques that the public want to buy. I’ll be trying to buy less antiques that the public don’t want to buy. I’ll attempt to explain to members of the public why the antiques they don’t want to buy are actually much better than those they do.
Dealing with Brexit
Greg Bradley, Bradley’s Furniture Carriers
Resolution: Develop our overseas shipping service for the Brexit era
With the uncertainty of Brexit, we are focused on developing our overseas shipping service, not only for those countries outside the EU but also European countries that will need the formalities we will experience when shipping abroad under Brexit.
The past year was our busiest yet for export by sea and air. We promoted and employed more staff to handle this increase in business and hopefully the logistics of sending our vehicles to the Continent won’t meet such stringent paperwork and duties we experience elsewhere. I am sure we will find out on March 29.
Julia Boston, Julia Boston Antiques
Resolution: Be resolute in the face of Brexit
Our New Year’s resolution for 2019 will entirely depend on how Brexit materialises, after all the confusion just before Christmas. So, forgive me, but like every other business in this country I can’t be definitive!
We buy exclusively in Europe. If there is no deal, the expected 10% drop in the value of sterling, extra expense, time, tariffs, border controls, CITES paperwork and administration involved will impact negatively on our business and, in turn, on our customers with higher prices. We, along with large and other small businesses, are extremely concerned.
I suppose with this mind, my resolution is… to be resolute in the terrifying face of Brexit.
Customer service focus
Richard Winterton, Director, Richard Winterton Auctioneers
Resolution: To be more transparent with both vendors and purchasers
We’re launching our own in-house delivery service and we want to show the costings, so that no one is in any doubt how we have arrived at that figure. We want to continue to give that extra customer service so we can stand out from the crowd.
Cliona Kilroy, Director, The Canterbury Auction Galleries
Resolution: Launch our free bidding platform
After a very interesting and successful 2018, my New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to bring the launch of our own free-to-use bid platform to fruition.
Defend the trade
Victoria Borwick, President, British Antique Dealers’ Association
Resolution: Mobilise dealers to face the tumult of 2019
Now that the BADA has celebrated its centenary, and having reminded ourselves of the tumult of 1918 and the First World War, I’m going to help dealers come together from across the country, all disciplines and expertise, to face the tumult of 2019.
This will, I hope, make sure that antiques and fine art are still held in high regard for their workmanship, beauty and creativity.
And ensure that the government looks at our history and respect the years of historical trading of objects from these shores and, yes, including those with ivory within them.
Catrin Hampton, Director and auctioneer, Chorley’s
Resolution: Focus on Modern art
My New Year’s resolution is to build on the success of our Modern Art & Design sales. In 2018 we handled ceramics by Lucie Rie, sculpture by Lynn Chadwick and paintings by numerous well-known 20th century artists.
I’m excited to be holding two stand-alone Modern sales in 2019 and hope to continue encouraging a new generation of auction-goers, without losing the valued support of those who have attended our antique sales for years.
Keep trade on CITES alert
James Lewis, Co-founder and director, Bamford’s Auctioneers and patron of the Born Free Foundation
Resolution: Continue to warn the trade of potential future species bans
We need to be aware that a lot of research is being done into the unintended consequences of the ivory ban, in particular the effect on other species such as walrus and hippo – two easily obtained sources for elephant ivory replacements.
The trade and, in particular, restorers should be wary of using such replacements, as I’m sure an extension of the ban will be looked at in 2019, if not 2020.
A potential ban on tortoiseshell objects is more likely than one on mammoth ivory.
Fake and new tortoiseshell tea caddies have been coming on to the market for at least 10 years as well as shagreen. My fear is that tortoiseshell may well be next on the target list if we do not put an end to the modern variety finding its way onto the market through our fairs and auctions.
Be more digital
Charles Miller, Charles Miller (auction house)
Resolution: Boost digital advertising
Having installed a far more interactive website, it’s time to take advantage of its capabilities. We will be inclining a greater proportion of our advertising budget to online media formats as we can no longer reach new clients by print alone. We may consider selling low value objects that we advertise online-only, but only if quality is not compromised.
Rachel Hutchinson, Head of jewellery, Dawson’s Auctioneers
Resolution: Blog more for Dawson’s website
In 2019 I plan to write more content for our jewellery blog on the Dawson’s website. We can identify current market trends and introduce new readers to aspects of auctions they might not know about.
Our Instagram account gives people an instant visual introduction to our lots, which takes them to the website to read more, which is where the blog posts are important.
We hold regular valuation days and the blog will incorporate stories and experiences from these.
The bigger arts picture
Philip Smith, Associate director (decorative arts and design, fine paintings and sculpture), Lyon & Turnbull
Resolution: Develop relationships with not-for-profit organisations
It’s vital in this time of socio-economic uncertainty, and with events such as Brexit looming, that the commercial sector engages with projects outside its norms, making sure the arts are living and breathing for all strata of society.
With this in mind, alongside already working alongside various museums, I am starting to work with charities developing art strategies to engage and raise attention for their causes.