Dusty Old Wood: Behind antique dealer Christopher Pye

Dusty Old Wood: Behind antique dealer Christopher Pye

Dusty Old Wood: Behind antique dealer Christopher Pye

These days, the word ‘antique’ oozes luxury but really it is just a more attractive word for old, and nowadays, the older, the more precious. Our increasingly nostalgic society is finding great joy in hunting out ancient treasures, so let’s meet the man who treasures them. Not only is he responsible for restoring antique wonders, he is also answerable to the re-homing of some really quite revolting furniture. So pull up a crooked chair and listen to the words of a young antique dealer as he dusts off his hands and opens up the creaky door on how he makes a living through dealing antiques. XXY: Where do you get your stock and are you fussy about what you stock? CP: A mixture of private people, auctions and fairs, and it’s pretty broad across the three, a third from each. Or I go to other dealers. I’m fussy because there has got to be a market for it. XXY: How would you personally define what antique means? Also, why has the furniture you work with lasted so long, in order to become antique? CP: It used to be something over one hundred years old, that was the basic term but it’s not actually the genuine term. I’d say something that’s got a quality or fineness about it; it’s got a value that’s worth collecting. If it’s over one hundred years old people generally label it as antique and I would say that but it’ got to be something that people want. Craftsmanship, and the care that the owners have taken over it. XXY: Describe your typical customer. CP: It’s sort of half trade buyers that I leave some profit in there for them and then if you look at the market, probably the highest range is thrifty five to forty-four year old females. And then the same age bracket males. Some of my customers are very wealthy, some of them would have one of my bits for £200 and it might be the most expensive thing in their house, so people of all backgrounds really. XXY: Why is it important for people to own an antique instead of new furniture? CP: Well there is always an inherent value in antiques, where as if you buy something new, ‘John Lewis’ or ‘B&Q’ or whatever you’d probably get about ten percent of what you paid for it back (when selling it on) but with antiques if you buy right, you can get all your money back, or more, or just slightly less. XXY: Do you think antiques are about status? CP: More of a trend. It’s fashion rather than status. But you do get the more better off people that like to parade people round their antiques and say “look I paid £250,00 for this chest of draws” or whatever, which is just a little bit of a show of their status, so it can be that. XXY: What has been the strangest piece of antique you have worked with? CP: A stuffed Dalmatian. It was a hundred years old! It didn’t look quite like what Dalmatians do now. It was utterly disturbing and fascinating to see such history, science and evolution all in once piece. XXY: Do you grow attached to the objects you are selling and has this ever lead you to refuse a sale because you couldn’t let go of an item? CP: Yes you do grow attached, but less and less the longer you deal. You just get to a point where the shop is so busy that you just want to get everything out, sell it all and make space for the next piece, Oh I have actually! It was a copper saucepan that I bought in France with my girlfriend, we bought it out of the side of the car, we did the deal through the car window as we were driving down the street. And then I sold it got £80 I think it was, but I told the woman not to come back for it as she was walking away from the shop. I said “don’t come back and buy it off me I’ll be gutted!” It was sort of like a refused sale. XXY: Do you think people present part of themselves through their home? CP: I’m sure some people aren’t as dull as what their homes are! XXY: Being an expert, would you judge a person on their home interior and furniture? CP: Yes, unfortunately I do. It doesn’t cost a lot sometimes. I find that if they can’t afford anything that’s fair enough but if they can and they just do it wrong, then I probably think that they’re not that discerning. XXY: Even though fashions change, why do you think objects stick around and constantly get recycled? CP: Practical use and the value of it. They go from people’s houses to people’s sheds and garages and then eventually they will find themselves in an auction or sold privately, then need restoring and then they can go back into someone’s home again. Or the value; they offer good value. XXY: Is antiques collecting an addiction? CP: Yes, dangerously so, especially if you have the money for it. XXY: Can it be taken too far? CP: Yes. Have I taken it too far? I’m just looking over the edge of taking it too far I think.   Text: Loo Loo Rose Images courtesy of The Antiques Diva & Co. Christopher Pye  Christopher Pye Facebook    

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