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Silver dealer Stephen Kalms.

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How did you get your start?

I worked for my father buying and selling cameras and then worked in property. I started in the antiques business because my in-laws were in it and I thought the concept of selling is the same whatever the field: if you buy well you can always sell. It’s still true for me today.

What is the first sale you remember making?

A Victorian novelty inkstand for £1500. It sold to a dealer – and I still remember it took him five months to pay me.

How has the trade changed?

It is far less international than it used to be. I used to do a lot of fairs in the US and do a lot of buying there. These days the exchange rate is against us and the price of travel has gone up. Now I do 10- 12 fairs in the UK. I’m not always sure that people want antiques any more.

Disposable income tends to go to holidays, clothes, restaurants and supporting their children and the market is getting tougher. But I’m always optimistic that the market will improve.

Has there also been a change in buyers’ tastes?

In my opinion yes. Take claret jugs. Ten years ago, I sold 32 at one staging of the Olympia fair.

These days I hardly sell any. That’s for commercial pieces, of course. Collectors’ items always find buyers.

Generally, there is more of an interest in modern, particularly in Stuart Devlin and Gerald Benney. People prefer the plainer silver to the more heavily decorated examples.

What is one question you wish people wouldn’t ask?

How do we clean the silver? It should be obvious – you clean it with silver polish and a bit of hard work. You have to do it regularly but it’s therapeutic, like cleaning the car.

kalmsantiques.com

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