1 What are some great discoveries you have made?
The highlight was about 10 years ago: a Chinese Ming bowl (Jiajing mark and period) which I bought at a shop and made £135,000. More recently I bought a Chinese 18th century porcelain fish bowl which made £25,000 after I found it at an antiques market.
2 How did you come across these discoveries?
Both cost very little. These days when such bargains come along, they tend to be unusual or unmarked pieces on the margins of a mainstream collecting field. Their esoteric nature makes internet searches less useful in helping the vendor make an accurate appraisal.
This, however, is just one part of the business. Like many dealers, most of the time I work on modest profits, a few ‘money-backs’ and the odd loss with these occasional successes providing the necessary boost to keep the business on track.
3 What is something you wish trade buyers would ask?
If they can take a photograph of an item on my stand. Such images are often sent around the world in order to get the go-ahead for purchase. It can be irritating when an individual hangs on to an object waiting for a response, particularly when others are waiting to look at the same item. The best dealers know their business and aren’t afraid to make a mistake – I see this as part of the trade. There’s a collective pot and we should all toss a few quid in from time to time.
4 What is the best show you have visited recently?
Mercanteinfiera, the antiques and art fair in Parma, Italy. Not what it once was but still a great show.
5 One object you couldn’t do without?
A little magnifying glass with a built-in torch, which I keep in the small pocket of my jeans. It cost about £1 but I’m lost without it.