Ask An Expert – Joe Trinder

Joseph TrinderJoe Trinder is an auctioneer, valuer and cataloguer at Wotton Auction Rooms, in Gloucestershire. He is the chairman of the Antiques Young Guns and is Vice President of NAVA (the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers).

What was the first antique you ever acquired?
My first real antique was a WW1, 1914, Princess Mary brass Christmas box that I admired and bought from my local saleroom as a boy. I still own it and remember the humbling feeling it first conveyed, and still does, seeing the dents and bruises from the trenches, and thinking of the man who once held it as a small but treasured comfort.

Why, and when, did you start in the business?
I joined the industry eight years ago, at the age of 14, through my local Cirencester saleroom. I had just attended a magnificent auction of antique fishing tackle providing my first glimpse of the auction world. I wrote to their head office, asking if I could complete my work experience with them and, after receiving the most remarkable encouragement, was offered more work experience and then a paid position as a trainee saleroom assistant during school holidays and weekends. I joined Wotton Auction Rooms after my A-levels.

Who influenced you most when you started?
It has to be my employer, Philip Taubenheim. He’s been a huge influence on my development, from auctioneering style to professional integrity. One of the first things he said to me was: “It will take you 20 years to build a good reputation in this industry, conduct yourself badly and you’ll lose it in 20 minutes.” I’ve also been influenced by a great number of seasoned trade professionals, other auctioneers and cataloguers.

What piece would you still most like to find?
Not knowing what will arrive though the saleroom doors next is part of what makes my job so thrilling – I’ll tell you when it arrives.

Best buy and biggest mistake?
As an auctioneer I don’t deal, but my best find has to be a 19th-century glass chemist’s bottle inscribed ‘Joseph Trinder of Cirencester’ (my hometown). It was exciting, although there was no family connection.

Biggest mistake?
After joining the business at 14, I spent an age (and many weeks’ pocket money) building up a Poole Pottery coffee set, buying individual pieces at markets. I thought the set would be worth a fortune as ‘complete’. I didn’t have that one quite right, as a kind auctioneer subsequently explained.

What do you like most about today’s antiques business?
Meeting the diverse and talented people who make up this remarkable world. The saleroom is like an interactive museum with an ever-refreshing line up.

What do you dislike most about today’s antiques business?
At times I wish there were two of me, especially during a tight cataloguing deadline! But I’m not complaining about being busy, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jackson's HallmarksBattersea Decorative FairDo you attend fairs? If so, which?
I try to attend as many fairs as possible, to support my Antiques Young Guns colleagues, as well as build up contacts. I like to soak up the atmosphere and, occasionally, add to my collection of miscellany. I often make it to Battersea Decorative Fair, Olympia, Bath and Shepton Mallet, among others.

What is the reference book you couldn’t live without?

There are so many! An everyday essential would have to be Jackson’s Hallmarks.

What is your favourite non-antiques activity?
I love to spend time in the Cotswolds countryside which has always been home. In saying that, I truly enjoy a busman’s holiday – expect to see me at antiques markets, centres and salerooms, or ambling around exhibitions and fair.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A few more hours in the day would really come in handy!

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