The new generation of Antiques Young Guns
- Credit: James Auton - jamesauton.com
Every month, our expert Ali Heath, brings us all the latest – from the best fairs to where to bag a bargain or hunt out vintage gems
Back in April 2013, auctioneer Timothy Medhurst was named the very first winner of the Antiques Young Gun of the Year Awards. Held as part of National Antiques Week, the awards sparked a much-needed move for change and provided an injection of new energy from an enormous bank of hidden talent and rising stars within the antiques sector. A year on and this new dynamic generation of antique dealers are attracting a lot of positive attention and are raising awareness of the antiques trade, its career possibilities and the new characters on the scene, with flair, vigour and relentless passion.
Forget the image of a fusty, staid antiques world. The new set of young dealers are highly ambitious, entrepreneurial and forward-thinking – many with client lists to die for. This is a new breed of dealer and one that is destined to raise the benchmark for the next generation of talent, yet still very keen to learn from the older members of the trade.
The competition for the 2014 winner was a year-long campaign open to anyone under the age of 39 years. Not a small group, as you might imagine, but a growing and impressive breed of young individuals who are driven, media savvy and connected to each other, the trade and their customer base, both on and offline. They care about ‘real’ antiques and the provenance of each item and are a breath of fresh air in a market that in recent years has been consumed by too many dealers selling dubious reproduction pieces in place of the real deal.
Entrants came from a wide range of disciplines within the trade – everything from auctioneers, valuers, restorers, fair organisers and dealers – but in a much- anticipated event at The Rooftop Restaurant at Alfies Antiques Market in Marylebone, it was James Gooch, owner of Doe and Hope in Blunham, near Bedford, who scooped this year’s award.
James set up Doe and Hope five years ago when he received a small inheritance that enabled him to take the plunge. Having worked as a runner and researcher for a TV production company, his style is theatrical and his inventory charged with the rare, the unusual, the decorative and the macabre: endless original curios, antiques, textiles, taxidermy and fairground gems. In fact, even the Harry Potter films and Game of Thrones crew have sourced props from him over the years. His fabulous eye for detail and inherent, down-to-earth enthusiasm is infectious and his award is very deserved.
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“I’m naturally delighted to take on the mantle of AYG from the superb ambassador that is Tim Medhurst,” says James Gooch. “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.
“It is wonderful to be recognised by my peers, and I’ve had many a kind word from all those involved in the trade since the awards, which is incredibly important to me.”
On a more local front, we are delighted that two members of the auctioneers Ewbanks in Woking are also championing the cause. Andrew Ewbank, partner and auctioneer, and Alastair McCrea, partner and entertainment/memorabilia specialist, are both members of the Antique Young Guns.
“We are proud to support the Young Guns campaign and more generally to encourage the involvement of young people in the antiques and auctioneering industries as a whole,” says Andrew. “A number of my colleagues here, both valuers and administrative staff, are under 40 years old, and the enthusiasm and drive these individuals can bring can be a real bonus to the business, in particular when coupled with the knowledge and experience of the more senior members of staff.
“I am 34 now so I won’t be in the club for that long but I will continue to support the campaign and encourage the development of young talent within the business when I too am a more senior member of the team!”
So, roll up your dust sheets, it is clear times are changing! I anticipate a bright future for the sector with this dynamic group leading the charge.
• For more information on the Antiques Young Gun Awards, see antiquesyoungguns.co.uk
Ali Heath is the owner of Plum (see plumlifestyle.com / blog.plumlifestyle.com). To contact Ali about styling and writing commissions, e-mail email@example.com