What do you do ?
I specialise in Antique dolls and teddy bears.
How long have you been dealing?
I have been dealing on an off since I was 21, which is 36 years.
Do you do any fairs?
I attend doll and Teddy bear fairs in London, Sussex and Birmingham. I find that a combination of fairs, antique centres and the Internet work well together as different people have different preferences as to how they like to buy. Though having said that, rare good quality items will sell wherever you have them.
What was your first job ?
(Alfies Antique Market and Grays founder) Benny Gray organised my first job for me. I had just left art school, and wanted to get into dealing properly (I had done a little while at college). Benny got me a job working for some furniture dealers, in his newly opened Grays Mews Antique market. I was allowed to sit a few dolls on their stall. From there I eventually got a stall in the centre, and then opened a shop in Camden Passage in Islington (1979). I had a few years off when my children were born, and eventually ended up with a stall again, in Grays. The stall I have there now is the exact same stall I used to work on all those years earlier.
Best thing about being a dealer?
The best thing about being a dealer, is that I get to travel. When I was 18, I used to go to Devon with a friend. He used to fill up his car with pine furniture, and bring it back to London to sell. The proceeds would more than pay for our little holiday. In those days one used to travel all over the country to buy. Nowadays I travel abroad to buy, when I can. I love it!
And the worst?
I don’t see any bad side to being a dealer! Sometimes however I feel a need to balance it with doing something for the world at large, and often raise money for charity etc. At present I am involved with dog rescues down in Brighton as well as being an avid supporter of Amnesty International.
My worst buy was a collection of limited edition teddy bears, which turned out to have been stolen!
I am not personally a collector. I love the items I sell, and get particular pleasure in finding items in their original condition; such as dolls in beautifully made clothing. I guess a dream find would be a French Bebe in original trunk with lots of extra clothing.
Biggest threat to the trade at the moment?
The biggest threat to dealing these days is the fact that many antiques are not in fashion any more. Trends like Shabby Chic, might be fun, but items that have little price end up being overpriced. In many ways it is a good time to buy, as “real antiques” have often gone down in value. Let’s hope the fashion changes again in a few years time.
Any advice for those starting out in the trade?
For anyone starting out in the business… try and get a job in an antiques shop or centre part-time. Handle as much as you can. Learn, learn, learn. Go to the big fairs, where you are likely to see all the latest reproductions, and so won’t be caught out by them when they turn up in auction and on the Internet.
I cannot think of an alternative career really. I am artistic, and have designed websites, and created animations. However, I am not good at working for others as I fear letting people down. I have always been self-employed.
Tell us a secret?
After many years in the trade, I find that the better quality high end items are the ones that are easiest to sell. In fact they sell themselves. However, try as I might, I cannot resist a bargain, and a good rummage at a fair or market. I get just as much pleasure in selling something for £10 that I paid £1 for as I do in selling things for £100s or £1000s.
Here is a selection of our favourite antique bears on offer from All You Can Bear:
|Sweet Farnell Bear|
|Rubin Chad Valley Bear|
|WJ Terry Bear|
|Art Silk Chad Bear|
All You Can Bear
Stand A25 & B14
07956 351 944 / email@example.com