60 Seconds With…Mark Hill

My parents always told me to…follow my heart when it came to a job. If you enjoy what you do and have a real passion for it, not only will it not seem like work, but you’ll also probably be better at it.

My first collectable was…a Star Wars action figure. Although they weren’t really collectables then! My first antique was a quirky Victorian mahogany writing box (left) that I coveted in a local antiques shop I passed on my daily paper round. I was heart-broken when I saw it had sold one day, but was delighted to find it under the Christmas tree a few months later.

The first record I ever bought was…It seems embarrassing to admit it today, but it was Kylie Minogue’s ‘The Locomotion’. I was only 12. Kylie’s gone from strength to strength since then, and I’m still a massive fan.

My most treasured possessions are…my early Victorian silver and gold pencils by Sampson Mordan. Each was carefully crafted by hand, and they’d cost many times more than they’re worth to make today. They really are jewel-like tools.

At school I wanted to be…on the Antiques Roadshow. I’m so incredibly lucky.

Dunhill Watch Lighter

I wish I hadn’t…told the lady selling a Dunhill watch lighter for £300 that I worked for Sotheby’s a few years back instead of buying it. I asked her to bring it in for me to put in an auction, and it sold for £10,000. Shown on the right, it was the first (and perhaps the best) of its type, made for a South American yacht owner, and sold by Asprey’s. The moral of the story? Honesty doesn’t pay!

My happiest moment was…when I unwrapped my latest purchase this morning. Those moments happen quite a lot.

When I was a child I wanted to…read books and learn things. I must have been a boring child, or an ideal one, depending on whether you were a friend or my parents!

The first book I ever read was…Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ was my favourite as a child.

The best book I have read so far was…Brideshead Revisited.

On TV I really hate…shows that reduce antiques and collectables to mere commodities.

Jaroslav Lebeda bottle

It’s not fashionable but I love…Doulton Lambeth stoneware. I really want to collect it, but space is the issue, as ever.

The best buy I’ve had so far was…a very rare bottle designed for the Czech pavilion of the 1958 International Exposition in Brussels (left). It’s cracked and was lying in a cardboard box of rubbish for £5. The designs intrigued me, and shouted quality. I knew that I could never afford it in perfect condition. It speaks so much of the political and design situation of the time. Quite by chance, five years later I met the lady who painted it as a young girl on a trip to the Czech Republic .

If I could live anywhere, I’d choose…Buenos Aires. Full of antiques, stylish, cosmopolitan, and enormous fun!

The best thing about me is…I tend to focus on the negatives and try to fix them. The things that are great can look after themselves. If you’re going to do something you as well do it as well as you can.

The worst thing about me is…I tend to say ‘yes’ to too many things, meaning I can take on way too much.

The thing I love most is…hunting round a huge antiques fair or centre, especially abroad. I never tire of the thrill of the hunt.

The one thing I’d love to own is…a 1920s-30s Dunhill Namiki fountain pen. A grade, and totally covered in maki-e lacquer. (The 1930s example shown here sold for over £162,000 at Bonhams in 2017. Image with thanks to Bonhams)

Dunhill Namiki Pen

I’m always being asked…What’s the next ‘big thing’? If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, well not quite yet anyway!

If I wasn’t me, I’d like to be…Doctor Who.

My hero is…Can I have two please? Paul Atterbury and Stephen Fry.

First published in Antiques Magazine.