Although they’re far from being the sources of great, inexpensive pieces that they used to be (I blame eBay and people who write books…), I still can’t resist popping into any charity shop I walk by. A quick browse at the ceramics and glass shelves comes first, followed by a scan of the jewellery counter, and my visit ends with a browse through the books. I’ve learnt to always pull out publications that are too slim to have identifying spines, as sometimes a bargain or rarity is revealed. A good example was a selection of Granta magazines from the mid-1950s that had been well-cared for by their (possibly recently deceased) owner but were now languishing in Oxfam in Marylebone, London. Named after the river that runs through Cambridge, Granta was founded in 1889 by students of the university. Since then a geat many hugely important literary figures have written for it including Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Haruki Murakami. But it wasn’t the literary content that interested me, it was something far more superficial …

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One of the aspects I love about my job the most is finding objects I love but don’t know anything about. It’s almost like a challenge – the piece taunts and teases me. Who am I? Where was I made? Who designed and produced me? When? What do I mean? Often looking at them periodically over a long period of time yields something I hadn’t spotted or considered, or else I stumble across something that helps as I go about my job and daily life. Although there’s a huge amount of rubbish to be found on the internet, sometimes just posting something and ‘putting it out there’, or scanning through Google Images helps too. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant lead can yield something. You just need to know where to start or, more precisely, where to start looking. My latest acquisition is this striking terracotta plaque, showing two men, one crouching and one standing above him holding sheaves of paper and with an eagle perched on his shoulder. The Communist star can be seen on the right hand …

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On Friday 4 July 2014, the hottest night of the year, an excited crowd gathered at The Rooftop Restaurant at Alfies Antiques Market for the celebratory party and awards ceremony to announce the winners of the ‘Antiques Young Gun of the Year’ award for 2014. The winner was the very popular choice of James Gooch owner of Doe and Hope, who was presented his award by the 2013 winner, 23 year old auction house specialist Timothy Medhurst. James commented “I’m naturally delighted to take on the mantle of Antique Young Gun of the Year from the superb ambassador that is Tim Medhurst, and I’m looking forward to both the challenges and benefits that come with the role.  It means a lot to be the first bona fide dealer to win the award and I hope I can leave a distinct mark on the year’s proceedings and help the movement continue on an upward trajectory. Since I was part of the first core of AYGs championing the movement on social media, it is wonderful to be recognised …

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In April this year, I was lucky enough to be able to secure the central exhibition space at the Spring Antiques For Everyone fair at the National Exhibition centre in Birmingham to promote Skrdlovice glass. Although the accompanying book ‘Berànek & Skrdlovice: Legends of Czech Glass‘ was launched later that month, we were able to mount the first exhibition of its kind in the UK, covering glass made at the factory from the mid 1940s until it closed in 2008. The glass was generously provided from the private collection of glass historian and collector Robert Bevan Jones, who organised it into sections and created the display. Along with along with Jindrich Parik, he is one of the two authors of the accompanying book – the first on the factory and its designers. As you can see from the photographs below, the display made an immense visual impact. As a result, it was visited by many thousands of people who visited the fair – comments were extremely positive and everyone came away having learnt many new things …

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I’m a great believer in supporting self-publishers. After all, I am one myself. So I was delighted when New York-based antiques journalist Amy Gale contacted me offering a copy of her new book, ‘Shows, Shops & Auctions‘. Gale is a prolific American writer, researcher and journalist who has written columns and articles for many notable antiques and interiors publications including the Maine Antique Digest, Antiques & Fine Art, Antiques & Collecting Magazine, Antiques + Auction and Antique Week. Her book is effectively a compilation of selected columns and articles from some of these, bolstered with new hitherto unpublished articles. I think I’d like to meet Amy. She sounds like a canny, clever and communicative type, as well as one who has experienced many more areas of the antiques world than most people. I bet she has a great many more tales than she packs into this nicely sized book. But, on the whole, what she writes isn’t very cheery or positive. I’d advise anyone who is thinking of going into the antiques business to read this book and …

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