Or perhaps the subtitle ought to be: Do not stand at an antique fair just before a bank holiday!
Most antiques traders put significant effort into sourcing their style of goods, researching their items, laying their stalls out with care, and labeling their goods correctly at the market price and spend significant parts of their trading day talking to the public in an informative way. Naturally, there are other traders, but they will be dealt with later! I am going to split this blog into the the separate areas outlined above.
Sourcing your antiques
This is a perennial headache. There is no warehouse, no stockist, no buy another exactly the same from the same supplier. In short each item is unique. I travel the length and breadth of the British Isles sourcing my stock. It is a buy it when you see it profession, you can never replace like with like. I have a broad church approach in what I sell: Ruskin ceramics, English Art Nouveau to Art Deco silver, English Georgian glass, period jewellery with a specialist knowledge of Theodor Fahrner and fine enamel boxes. So for example when I last sourced a piece of Ruskin, I had to travel over two hundred miles to do so for a small souffle glaze bowl. This takes time, knowledge, courtesy and of course filthy lucre. I arrived, was shown the pieces, so of which were damaged, some of which were overpriced and this lovely bowl, which settled into the place of the last piece of Ruskin sold. In terms of cost this was four hours in total, the cost of fuel and then the research. So for a total cost of £190.00 including my time, this bowl will sell for an aspirant £275.00, which naturally includes a percentage discount that the GBP expect as a result of Flog It/Bargain Hunt/Antiques Road Trip et al. I can no longer attend auctions because I am now a known dealer and people want to compete against me. It is constantly flabbergasting how the GBP view stock – ” Her stuff is expensive”. A particular bugbear for me is, “What is the best you can do on this?” I veer between, the best for me madam, or what will I accept? Perhaps the most laughable was at Bowman’s Harrogate last wekend – a middle aged couple were looking at a superb hand-made silver tazza, and remarked, “Eeeh it would make a reet good football trophy”. And people wonder why we prefer to stand at fairs with invited audiences who at least have an interest in antiques.
What finally made my weekend was being asked who sourced my stock…