Malcolm Fairley worked for dealer Barry Davies before setting up on his own.

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1 How did you get your start?

After joining Sotheby’s from school as a sales clerk, I went into the Japanese department. I stayed for 18 years, then joined Barry Davies, one of the main dealers at the time until I was able to set up on my own in 1995. After a short period working from home I found my gallery in St James’s where I shall remain (no desire for retirement). I am currently finding and researching items for our annual exhibition catalogue on show in November. Constant research is one of the joys of this profession.

2 What is one great discovery you have made?

As far as objects are concerned, I recognised and purchased one of the greatest pieces by the Kyoto enamel maker Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845-1927), found unattributed in an auction catalogue (before catalogues existed online) and subsequently sold it for a record price.

3 What is something you’d love to get your hands on – a ‘holy grail’ in your area?

I’d like that vase back. Otherwise, the set of 12 bronze falcons made by Suzuki Chokichi for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and now in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Pretty unlikely to get either!

4 Do you collect personally?


One of Malcolm Fairley's rock crystal spheres.

I don’t have a major collection of anything in particular but numerous rather quirky objects, mainly kept in carboard boxes, to be seldom viewed but with the same excitement as when I first found them. For example, rock crystal spheres, one of which set its stand on fire when I was exhibiting in New York… display with caution.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Neither. Good French wine, but increasingly, 0.0% beer which has improved dramatically in recent years.

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