I resigned from BADA over its part in The Open Art Fair last year.*
The arrangement between BADA and the fair is, in my view, symptomatic of a broader loss of direction within the association, as membership has aged and retired and the business has changed so dramatically.
There are many good people within the association and the BADA office has employees of high calibre but it is high time for change and the formation of a single association for antiques dealers.
One set of challenges will be to support dealers in trading to and from the EU. Until this year, as members of the EU, we had a significant price advantage arising from the global and margin VAT schemes.
That has now gone and EU customers buying from the UK now have to pay full VAT on import. I have already lost several sales as a consequence.
Moreover, I note that German customs are insisting on delaying imports while they physically inspect them and are demanding import licences for antiques.
There is also the absurdity that the UK and the EU no longer recognise their respective hallmarks on silver and gold. There are agreed Common Control Marks with some EU countries but not all.
In theory, antique pieces of precious metal with hallmarks should be recognised by the various countries but that does not seem to be working out in practice as yet.
In responding to all the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and changes to trading in general there needs to be change in the way that antiques dealers are represented – a single, more powerful, and truly representative organisation is surely the future.
The London Silver Vaults
* ATG note: as reported in ATG No 2475, Peter Cameron, the writer of this letter, was one of two dealers taken to the small claims court by The Open Art Fair organiser BADA Limited in a dispute about the stand fee payable. The March 2020 event had been cut short amid Covid-19 concerns. BADA Limited lost the case but intends to appeal.