Dealer Nicholas Wells who worked at Jonathan Horne and Mallett before branching out on his own.

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1 How did you get your start?

I studied art history and heritage management at the University of Buckingham. With a passion for the decorative arts, I sent every dealer in the London antiques trade letters saying I’d like to work for free and started first with Jonathan Horne in Kensington Church Street and then Mallett at Bourdon House.

Fourteen years later I struck out on my own, specialising in 18th and 19th century furniture, works of art, arms and armour and oceanic art. I’m drawn to the history, the way the objects were commissioned, made and the places they were made for.

2 What’s one great discovery you’ve made?

While I was still at Mallett I found a table at a second-hand shop and bought it for £50. We got it into Christie’s and sold it for £5000 – a great calamander table, and someone else obviously thought so too. It was a pivotal decision-making moment for me, which showed me I was ready to go off on my own.

3 Who do you admire in the trade?

The young dealers today are so inspirational – there are a few I’d pick out such as Mark Pargeter, Matthew Holder and Adam Calvert Bentley – they are very nimble and run circles around the established trade. There are also great interior designers out there that I admire greatly such as Nicholas Haslam and Colefax & Fowler.

4 One object you couldn’t do without?

My cameras - a Canon DSLR and Hasselblad medium format. Trading online demands excellent photos. I personally oversee all the photography; it is crucial to the business. Everything has to be honestly represented and shown at its absolute best.

5 Do you collect anything personally?

I collect Indian and Ceylonese boxes. I’ve done it forever. They’re wonderful objects, especially the porcupine quill boxes, and have such a story behind them. They were bought by travellers on the trade route between Europe and China and I like how the designs reflect the influence of both cultures.

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