1 How did you get your start?
I was beguiled by antiquities at an early age. I was fortunate to grow up near Guildford, where a prominent collector, Fred Clark, had an antiques shop. As a schoolboy I was amazed to see flint implements in his shop window. It was where I spent my pocket money. Later I found other dealers and discovered the pleasures of buying at auction. Dealing seemed a natural progression from collecting.
2 What is your area of focus?
I deal in affordable antiquities, anything from ancient times up to around 1600AD. Antiquities aren’t the preserve of the rich. Wonderful items can be had for a few tens of pounds upwards.
3 What is one great discovery you have made?
My best find was in the early days of thesaleroom.com. A provincial saleroom in East Anglia listed what was just described as ‘two crates of rustic pottery’. The accompanying photographs were taken looking down on the open crates, most of the contents obscured. But my hunch was that the pottery was Ancient Egyptian. I really had no idea how much was in the crates, but I bid by phone and was successful.
Indeed, the pottery was Ancient Egyptian, later confirmed by the British Museum as being from John Garstang’s excavations at Esna in 1906. Each vessel was annotated and could be linked to a specific tomb. There were over 40 vessels in all plus an exquisitely carved sandstone offering table and a Canopic jar head, all unlisted in the lot description.
4 Something you secretly hope you’ll never sell?
There are many things I would like to keep, and indeed many things I regret selling. It’s not unknown for me to quietly remove an item from sale for the mantlepiece. Antiquities seem to talk to you after a time – when they do, you know they are keepers.
5 Real ale or espresso martini?
Neither – a nice cold lager refreshes the mind, body and soul.
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