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Inspiration

TV Antique Dealers Share Their Secrets

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The Secret Dealers are back on ITV and they’re on the lookout for people like YOU to take part in the show!

We caught up with these hard-haggling antique hunters to find out more about their secrets for sorting treasures from the trash and what to look out for in your home.

How did you get into the antiques trade – what was the attraction?

Tim Hogarth

I got into antiques as a small boy bottle-digging. It was so exciting to find something 100-years-old. Watching Upstairs, Downstairs as well was wonderful with my granny who told me the most wonderful tales from her childhood. Listening at 8-years-old to someone who remembered the Titanic sinking gave me my passion for history and antiques.

How has it changed since you started?

Mike Melody (left)

It hasn’t! When I started the ‘trade’ was full of stuffy old types, gin-sozzled, wearing their dad’s tweed and brogues, whinging about the ‘good ol’ days’ and bloody TV programmes killing the trade. NO CHANGE in that!

Mark Stevens

The trade has changed dramatically since I have been involved, especially with the introduction of the Internet making things sometimes easier, but also harder. It used to be knowledge was King, whereas now you can go on the Internet and find out most things. What I am also finding now is in the old days you could buy and sell anything, but I think the markets have changed so dramatically that the lower end market is now very hard to sell, whereas anything of quality is selling for a lot more money than it was.

What’s the best way for people to learn more about buying and selling antiques?

Simon Schneider (left)

The Internet is an incredible aid to learning about the business, but however helpful it is to view auctions and auction room archives online, nothing is as memorable as handling items, so whenever possible it’s always best to take some time out to go and view auctions in person.

Tim Hogarth

Without doubt the best way to learn is to have a go! Test the water! And of course watchSecret Dealers!

‘Fess up – What real turkeys have you bought?

Mark Stevens

The worst buy I’ve ever had was a ruby necklace that was sold to me as rubies but unfortunately they were paste (not real stones), so from being worth £8000 it was probably worth about £200!

Christopher Selkirk

A gold ground Madonna turned £8,000 into £400 with minimum effort.

Alison Chapman (right)

An expensive ‘natural turquoise’ necklace purchased near the rim of the Grand Canyon from ‘genuine’ native Americans… I was taken up with the moment and meeting real live Indians!

What makes a good dealer?

Christopher Selkirk

The self-knowledge that the more you know, the more there is to know.

Mike Melody

Ambition. Generally along the lines of ‘finding a Van Gogh for a tenner’. In other words: the thrill of the hunt.

What’s currently selling like hotcakes in the antiques world?

Mike Melody

Decoration and the export trade always drive our business. At the moment anything Oriental and ostentatious, i.e., flashy French is flavour of the month.

David Ford (left)

At the moment Oriental is hot. And quality always sells

Alison Chapman

Pie-birds, cookery related items, vintage aprons, utensils, vintage Christmas decorations are booming and I have seen a big surge in Victorian pendants.

Tim Hogarth

Quality ceramics, Art Deco jewellery, novelty silver medals, vintage watches.

What’s your most exciting find on the show?

Tim Hogarth (left)

People always ask me my most exciting find on Secret Dealers and, without doubt, it has to be a beautiful 18th Century tortoise-shell snuff box with a gold plaque and inscription. Not the most expensive item, but the history and quality make it a jewel.

What are the antiques of the future?

Mark Stevens

I think antiques of the future will possibly be more technology pieces, i.e. early cell phones, computers and other technological inventions.

Mike Melody

Antique furniture, because it is so stupidly cheap. If you don’t believe me check out a 1992Miller’s Guide!

Simon Schneider

I think English ceramics from the 1950s and 1960s are the antiques of tomorrow, particularly those by good well-known makers like Wedgwood and Worcester, etc. Generally, good design and those items that were expensive when they were produced, are likely to be worth something in the future.

Christopher Selkirk

Modernist 1950’s furniture, which 10 years ago was bon-fire fodder!

Tim Hogarth

I think we need to think outside the box on this one – anything that is thrown away as we live in such a disposable world. One-off merchandise from leading brands like Coca-Cola and Apple could all be the next big thing!

How do you explain the popularity of vintage?

Tim Hogarth

Vintage is nothing new in our trade, it’s the emperor’s new clothes. It’s fashion led and every few years we have an upsurge in the way the business is viewed. At the moment it’s vintage.

Alison Chapman

It makes us all think of our childhood, where it felt safe, warm and sunny, but, it’s also affordable!

David Ford

Nostalgia for me and good design, whatever decade, will always be attractive.

Mark Stevens (left)

I think vintage has become popular because it is mostly affordable for lots of people to purchase.

What’s the secret to haggling and sealing the deal?

Simon Schneider

Everyone enjoys a good haggle. My negotiating skills depend on whether I am buying or selling. I hate dealers that run down the items they obviously want to buy as I prefer to accentuate the positive attributes. The best way to seal the deal is to know what price you want to pay and offer the best price you can for the item.

David Ford

Being confident about its potential value.

Alison Chapman

Never really wanting anything until you own it…..

Give us some insider secrets?

Simon Schneider

The best tips I can give anybody is to follow your heart and not forget your head. If you want to be successful in the antiques business you need to trust your own judgement.

Mike Melody

Knowledge and good research always helps –  I must put that on my must-do list!!!

Alison Chapman

It you find what looks like a silver chain, but the bolt ring has a yellow gold thumb piece, then it isn’t silver; it’s platinum. I have bought so many ‘silver’ chains at boot fairs that are actually platinum by just knowing this!



Adele Gardner

Adele Gardner

Creative Writer

Adele is a creative writer for Preloved. She loves literature, travelling, baked goods and is always hunting for new music.