Archive for February, 2014

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Dealer Spotlight: Allan Bellamy Art Deco & Mid 20th Century Antiques

Posted Feb 27th, 2014 by The Old Cinema

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The first thing you notice on meeting Allan Bellamy is his beaming smile, and the sense that he generally finds life rather good fun.  The second is his fanatical enthusiasm for Art Deco;  with all its sleek, polished beauty and elegant curves,  and accents of black lacquer and chrome.

But it doesn’t stop at furniture; a glass cabinet holds myriad vintage goodies:  Sunburst mirrors,  cigarette lighters, embellished cocktail glasses,  Clarice Cliff ceramics and dancing bronze statuettes all jostle for space.

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Allan admits he is hooked on buying;  “I just can’t help myself” he shrugs happily,and says his house is full to bursting point, despite his partner begging him to stop.  His insatiable appetite also has another downside:  “Given that I’m reasonably successful, I’m far more hard up than I should be” he laughs.

 

As well as furniture, Allan has a superb collection of Deco lighting; much of which originally adorned hotel foyers and cocktail bars and often collaborates with interior designers on hotel refurbishments when they want vintage fittings.

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Allan had no background in antiques, he left home as a young lad to work in a  brewery in Winchester and then got a job at The Guildhall which held regular antiques fairs. The city was full of antiques shops and Allan started buying and selling  colourful 1930‘s ceramic-ware – plentiful and affordable at the time – to fund his growing interest in Art Deco furniture .  He was soon running the fairs at The Guildhall, having meanwhile acquired an antiques shop on the south coast with partner, so life was fairly hectic.

 

Besides his collection here and two other shops outside London, Allan also has a  website, www.gazelles.co.uk and finds people are increasingly  happy to buy online – particularly if they have met Allan at one of the many fairs he attends.  “They can feel comfortable they are getting the genuine article and also, if they don’t like it they know I will buy it back from them” he explains.

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And his best buy to date? Allan recalls a dealer acquaintance mentioning a figure he was selling,  which Allan thought sounded interesting and said he would look at. Some years later,  Allan had forgotten the conversation,  when the dealer suddenly turned up at his shop,  with the figure, asking  £200 for it.  When he saw it,  Allan felt a tremor of excitement as he suspected it could be valuable.  He took it to Christies who pronounced it to be a genuine Chiparis statue, and it sold for  £4,500. That must have made his day?  “Yes, I bought a new car” he grins.

If Allan had any spare time,  he’d spend it tending the magnificent garden which came with the 1920‘s house he and his partner share:  “It was already landscaped, and has 24 ponds, all running into each other. We made one of them deeper, so we could fill it with Koi” he explains. But right now – he’s too busy buying and selling,  to spare any time for the garden.  Before I leave, I ask Allan if he has a photograph of himself for this piece and he grins again: “Yes, I’ve got one taken 20 years ago – you can have that” he chuckles.

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Dealer Spotlight: Jonathan Atkins of Minerva Antiques

Posted Feb 7th, 2014 by The Old Cinema

 

….He’s clearly part of the fabric of the place and well-known to all the staff  here who
accept his provocative banter with affectionate good humour. Initially, he seems slightly perplexed about why I’d want to interview him, but once I assure him it’s very general and I’ll only write nice things, he warms up a bit and we sink into a pair of old leather Chesterfield sofas.

See our collection of Chesterfields.

Even as a boy, Jonathan could sniff out a deal and he and a school friend almost started a business selling fireplaces but couldn’t get the money together so Jonathan went into the City instead. He soon became bored so packed it in and went travelling in Spain.   When  he came back he began working in an antiques warehouse in Bermondsey, where he met and became friends with Martin Hanness (founder of The Old Cinema before opening an antiques mirror shop  in Greenwich – Minerva Antiques – which he still has. He admits he has a ‘thing’ about mirrors – particularly really large, grand ones.  “I might have up to 300 in stock at any one time” he explains.

Jonathan’s particular speciality is in creating a traditional country house look with all the  comforts and trappings of the ancestral home. He gestures at the Chesterfields we are sitting in: ‘These sell really well, you have to have the space for them, but they never go out of fashion, they are really hard-wearing  and they just get better and better with age.”

 

 

See our collection of Leather Armchairs.

Apart from,  leather sofas and glass-fronted cabinets (displaying an intriguing collection of pharmacological ephemera), Jonathan has uncovered a demand for customising antique wardrobes.  Women, it appears, like the look of them, but not the musty smell they sometimes come with. Jonathan takes off the back and lines the interior with material to seal it and prevent dust getting in. This process, not only protects clothes, but immediately refreshes the interior, eliminating any whiff of previously owned  bobcoats and breeches.  Shelves and shoe racks can be built in and mirrors are hung inside the doors, bringing up-to-date functionality to a beautiful antique piece.



See our collection of Wardrobes.

 

 

 

Jonathan recognises the current British love of up-cycling and he gets great pleasure re-using timbers taken from broken wardrobes or chests  and turning them into something useful; often incorporating interesting
features;  carved wooden panels and inlays, old lettering and signage, ironmongery, or coloured glass.  “The mood is green now.” he says: “ A lot of wood, for example, Cuban mahogany, is fantastic quality but you just can’t buy it any more; almost everything new is made from sustainable pine,  so it’s wonderful to be able to give it a new lease of life.”

See our collection of Upcycled Furniture.

 
As Jonathan says, everyone is different, and each sits somewhere within the spectrum of classic and quirky and most people like a mix of the two. Moods and fashions ebb and flow and what would have been unthinkable 20 years ago is now hot property – as can be seen by the current vogue for 1960’s and  1970’s interior style and furnishings.  And people have relaxed a little; “Not so long ago taxidermy was a complete taboo – but now you could have antique moose’s head on the wall and it wouldn’t really bother anyone” he says.
 

See our collection of Retro Furniture.

 

As we finish our chat and say goodbye, Jonathan suddenly looks down in consternation at the trainers he has on:  "You
won't mention these will you, I don't normally wear them?" he says anxiously, then, before I can reply, he grins and goes bounding off.