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Michael was my first ‘mentor’ in the antiques world in the late 1990s, when at Phillips in Carlisle, and during a period of restructuring upheaval with that firm, we both decided to ‘jump ship’ and had seven years working together at the now-defunct Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s plc (PFK) saleroom in Cumbria.

In the absence of online price guides, I was not deemed ‘ready’ to value for at least the first few years; researching and cataloguing items - under his watchful and critical eye - was his syllabus. Only once I could begin to appreciate how styles and forms were connected was I then finally let loose, like a taxi driver doing ‘the knowledge’.

In that time, Michael taught me a fraction of his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things antique, gleaned over what was then around 35 years in the trade and at auction.

He was perhaps at the centre of a Venn diagram of dealer, valuer and academic, writing a number of scholarly books on a range of esoteric subjects as varied as bronze mortars, writing implements, and items for the gentleman’s pocket.

He would avidly build up collections, research and write about them, and then sell them, only to begin again; the joy of being the fleeting custodian and researcher was his fuel. In the era before Google and Wikipedia, he knew a gargantuan amount - and if he didn’t know, he knew where and how to find out, or from whom.

Beneath the veneer of a man who did not suffer fools gladly was someone keen to impart knowledge and to have things done properly. I still hear his dry humour reminding me “there’s no such thing as a mahogany gentleman” when cataloguing - sometimes the sternest and most demanding teachers are the ones whom we are most grateful for in later life.

In his home environment, his period cottage with his beloved wife Ann and his succession of dogs, you met a much gentler, contented soul. He would always send Christmas cards and family updates in his beautiful calligraphy, and occasionally check in - especially if he spotted something which he felt was miscatalogued…

I will be eternally grateful to Michael for his exacting standards and his attention to detail. His passing robs our industry of one of its most respected scholars.

Mark Huddleston

Director/senior valuer and auctioneer, Clevedon Salerooms