Fresh from her appearance as the latest addition to the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip team, we caught up to fire some quick questions at Roo Irvine, specialist in Georgian glass and owner of an antiques shop in Kilcreggan, Scotland.
What was the first antique that you ever acquired?
It was an Asprey & Co bell-shaped cocktail shaker. Although it’s not officially an antique yet (not being a 100 years old) it was my first ever buy at an antiques auction, and I knew from the second I saw it I had to have it.
Why, and when did you start in the business?
Having always appreciated and loved antiques, personal circumstances propelled me into the antiques world. While working as marketing manager, a family bereavement made me re-evaluate my priorities and yearn for a fulfilling career that nurtured my soul, not just my pocket.
What piece would you like to find?
Being a glass lover, it would have to be a piece by William Beilby. The Beilby family of Newcastle: William, Richard and Mary were all skilled 18th-century glass decorators who learned how to fire enamels onto glass. Some 90 known Beilby goblets with armorial decoration still exist so I fully realise this may never happen. Although glass is still relatively undervalued, times are changing and more collectors are looking at Georgian glass, which is now quite easy to find.
What was your best buy?
My best buy would have to be glassware from Keiko Mukaide, a Japanese glass artist who lives in the UK. Her work has been exhibited in galleries worldwide, but very few pieces come up for sale. I acquired two at a saleroom because no one knew what they were. Another good buy was a Victorian double goffering iron, which sparked an online bidding war before ending up in America, after making a very large profit!
What do you like most about today’s antiques business?
The stories behind what we deal in. The diversity of our historic periods is one of the things I love most. Every piece is a snapshot in time that has been owned and loved by someone with memories attached to it. They move from person to person, layering memories and moments in time. We are connecting the dots of our past and preserving antiques for the future.
This article is an extract from an intrerview with Roo Irvine in Antique Collecting magazine – subscribe now to get Antique Collecting delivered to your door each month!