Antiques Trade Talks – Geoffrey Stafford Charles of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury

Geoffrey Stafford Charles is the Director of the British & Continental Ceramics & Glass department at Dreweatts & BloomsburyGeoffrey Stafford Charles is the Director of the British & Continental Ceramics & Glass department at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury. He trained as a Chartered Surveyor of Chattels on the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers Fine Art and Chattels course at the Southampton Institute and is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. He is a qualified General Valuer but his particular interests lie in British and Continental Ceramics and Glass prior to 1900.

What are your current best sellers?

I would suggest quirky items as beloved by interior designers/decorators which seem to fulfil the desires of the modern private client with a disposable income. They are less likely to buy traditional furnishing items such as their parents or grandparents might have bought but prefer statement items. These can be difficult to describe, but like an elephant you know it when you see it….

What do you think are the current ‘good investment’ items?

Limited edition modern watches, handbags, fountain pens and other items of portable wealth. Should be kept mint in original packaging. Much beloved of rich far eastern buyers.

What antiques do you have at home?

Contrary to the above, I have old fashioned eclectic tastes and furnish in the manner of my grandparents – brown furniture, traditional pictures, ceramics, silver, etc. Even the beds are old with several four posters (not much money these days). My only concession to modernity would be kitchen appliances, televisions, etc. Even my dinner services are old and bought at auction.

What do you think will be the antiques of the future?

Good modern design, good modern watches, etc. It is entirely possible that future generations will lose interest in older stuff altogether because as a general rule, they don’t have and won’t have the scholarship of previous generations that gives a wealthy professional the desire to collect 18th century English wine glasses.

How is the industry changing?

I refer you to my previous answers. One dealer once bemoaned to me that people nowadays were only interested in wine, women and plasma screen televisions. No doubt we will always have something to sell but it won’t necessarily be brown furniture, traditional pictures, etc, but more likely limited edition handbags.

What antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?

I’d buy the best pictures I could.

What are good antiques to buy if on a budget?

Good modern art and hope you have a good eye. If it’s good now chances are it will be good later. Buy the best quality you can, Rolls Royce items and if this is on a small budget then needs must that one looks for young artists who may blossom.

Where are your favourite antique hunting destinations?

Other auction houses. I rarely if ever buy from the trade.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make?

Not buying the best that one can afford. Assuming the auction estimate is an accurate guide. Sometimes we get it wrong, other times we like the item well enough that against our better judgement we accept the vendor’s demand for a higher estimate than the item really warrants. Buyers must remember not to get carried away and remember the buyer’s premium which is not inconsiderable nowadays.

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury’s next Interiors sale is on 21 & 22 February at Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire. 

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