Investment advice from antiques expert David Harper
PUBLISHED: 11:53 13 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:54 20 February 2013
TV expert David Harper has been fascinated by antiques for as long as he can remember. And he has some words of advice for investment in these straitened times <br/>Words by Sue Campbell
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of North East Life
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David Harper smiles: The antique world is a bit like a treasure hunt you never know what nugget youre going to turn up.
David has been fascinated by antiques for as long as he can recall. Hes now a well known face on television, appearing on shows such as Bargain Hunt, Cash In The Attic and The Antiques Road Trip. He also has a shop on The Bank in Barnard Castle in County Durham, renowned for its collection of antique emporiums.
But his love of antiques began when he was just five. I started collecting scraps of broken 18th century blue and white pottery, which of course nobody else wanted, he said. Ive still got my old treasured biscuit tin bursting with worn out coins, postcards and broken clay pipes, none of it worth a thing. But I cant remember a time when I wasnt interest in history and all things antique.
David, who now lives at Lartington, bought his first antique around the age of ten from a local antique market - a Victorian silver plated dish, which was a gift for his mothers birthday.
I can still remember the thrill of that first purchase and the excitement of researching it when I got home - its a feeling I still get today with every fresh buy, no matter what its worth.
avid realised it might be possible to make a living out of buying and selling antiques when he was about 15. His family were living in Africa and owned a lovely 19th century chaise lounge, bought there.
The chaise was said to have once been owned by Lord Nelson, purchased from his old London home and shipped out to Africa 100 years earlier.
This tale fascinated me, David said. I just couldnt get over the fact that I could be sitting on the same piece of furniture that my hero Lord Nelson had actually touched.
avid spent weeks researching and examining the way it was constructed, working out the kind of wood it was made from, whether it had ever been reupholstered or restored and, crucially, when the chaise was made.
It didnt take long with the help of reference books to discover it was an English William IV or early Victorian, circa 1840 rosewood chaise which had been reupholstered several times.
I loved every second of the research but all my hard work sadly shattered any Lord Nelson connection - he died at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, 35 years before the chaise was made.
It wasnt all news bad though. The family came back to the UK and the chaise was sold at auction for three times its purchase price in Africa.
avid said: That sparked the idea that I could actually do this for fun and even make a living out of it.
avid is now 44 and trimmer than hes been for a long time. You cant be too thin-skinned in the TV world, he added. At various times Ive been told to shave my hair off, pluck my eyebrows, put some glasses on, shave my beard off, use false tan and lose some weight!
But its great fun and you learn a lot from other experts on the shows.
Although David sells items at his shop, he also acts as a broker. People ask me to sell items for them and find the best auction room and best price. Working all over the country means you get to know where certain items sell best.
Has he ever had that Roadshow moment of finding something for very little which turns out to be worth a fortune?
Not quite that, although I have found items which have I have turned round for a few thousand. If you listen to the Roadshow experts, those items are once in a lifetime finds and very rare.
So, whats good to buy and sell in the depths of a recession?
Georgian and Victorian furniture has never been cheaper. I could furnish a house at half the cost of using High Street furniture. It means your home is furnished individually and in my view can even add to a house valuation.
And David says its also a good time to buy porcelain.
But dont look to buy Chinese items, he added. Items made in China in the 18th and 19th century for their own domestic market are being bought up in their thousands by the Chinese at very good prices. So nows the time to sell.
And there will be lots of it in houses in the North East somewhere there will be a piece of Chinese porcelain with a plant in it worth 100,000.
Its also a good time to sell silver. The market is strong and there are good profits to be made.
ut David has always stuck to one principle, which he says rings true, whatever the economic climate: Buy what you like, what appeals to you, and enjoy it. It could turn out to be your own bit of treasure.
David Harper Antiques, The Bank, Barnard Castle. 01833 631500 or 650051.