1 How did you get your start?
My brother and I used to go digging for old bottles and pot lids as children; collecting little pieces of history became our hobby and we grew a network of friends who felt the same. When I had children I gave up my day job and a friend and I decided to do an antiques fair together, which happened to be the NEC in Birmingham. Being there, seeing other items and chatting to other dealers was exhilarating and the rest is history.
2 What do you specialise in?
Wood! I started dealing in antique furniture, but carried around some smaller pieces. The intricacy of these items enchanted me; the care and attention always told such a story. When my boyfriend, now husband, bought me a tea caddy with a secret drawer in, that really told me where my heart was. I moved into dealing in wine coasters, candle boxes and other pieces. They were easier to transport and now all my pieces are small wooden items, Georgian and Victorian.
3 What is one great discovery you have made?
I bought a tea caddy with a secret drawer that was jammed shut and hadn’t been opened in years. I could hear a rattling inside, so took it to my restorer to have it opened. We didn’t find gold sovereigns inside, sadly, but what we did find had more of story to tell: it was a beautifully written shopping list from the 1760s with prices beside each item. I hope the writer wasn’t too aggrieved to lose their list – it was definitely for our gain.
4 What is one thing you would love to get your hands on – a ‘holy grail’ item?
Treen earlier than the 1600s is very rare, but I dream of owning an Elizabethan roundel case with roundels. These are decorated circular tablets of wood which weren’t really made after the 16th century. There has been debate about their use, but I believe that they were brought out at the end of a meal. They would have had marzipans, sweets, and meats on one side and once the food had been eaten, the roundel would be turned over so that the diners could reveal the patterns, epigraphs, and poems on the other side. It’s a pipedream…
5 What is one thing you secretly hope you’ll never sell?
This would have to be a pair of Georgian yew wood candlesticks. I sold them to a friend about 10 years ago and deeply regretted it. I was lucky enough to rebuy them two years ago from the same friend. They are intricately turned, have great provenance and the yew wood almost glows with beauty. They’re supposed to be for sale, but have pride of place in my house rather than on my website or at fairs for now.
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