Trade Talks – Elizabeth Fell

Elizabeth Fell, antiques buyer and advisorElizabeth Fell is an antiques advisor and buyer who began her career with a secondment to Philip’s Auctioneers in Oxford whilst studying for her degree in the History of Art. After her studies she immersed herself in the antiques industry by dealing and working with dealers before co-founding and running the highly successful The Swan in Tetsworth in 1993. Today, Elizabeth works with private clients to help them buy with confidence through her business Elizabeth Fell Ltd.

What areas/items are currently selling well?

I don’t sell antiques, I buy on behalf of others. But mid-century is the most brisk market at the moment, as well as of course, the very best quality, earliest antiques, which always sell well.

An antique oak country chair works well in a modern interiorWhat do you think are the current ‘good investment’ items for 2017 – ones to watch?

Oak and country furniture is still very inexpensive. Cheaper than Ikea in some instances and very easy to create a pared down look with, which is popular right now. (left)

What antiques do you have at home?

An antique oak dresserLots but I always want more! An oak dresser (right) and Windsor chairs around a refectory table in my kitchen, a collection of 23 convex mirrors, and a jar full of 19th century glass dolls’ eyeballs among other things!

What do you think will be the antiques of the future?

Silver by Claire RansomBespoke, handcrafted items like the work of  John Galvin, or contemporary silversmith Clare Ransom. (left)

How is the industry changing – areas for optimism? 

The industry has changed so much, it’s almost  unrecognisable. Those that are succeeding are those of us who embrace change and take advantage of the new opportunities that have opened up, not lamenting the doors that have closed.

Tell us some trade secrets – what are your top tips for buying antiques?

There are no secrets, know as much as you can, never over estimate your knowledge, read, ask questions, get your hands on stuff.

An antique country stoolWhat antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?

A painting by Vilhelm HammershøiI’ve always wanted a pocket globe, preferably one in a shagreen case. Or better still, if money really is no object, a Danish domestic interior painting by Vilhelm Hammershøi.

You’re down to your last 50 quid – what antiques/art would you buy?

I’d buy a country stool, simply made, and with good patina. I love their sculptural form and their honest place in vernacular furnishing. Also they’re so useful, you’ll never wish you hadn’t bought one. (right)

Where are your favourite antique hunting destinations?

Auctions. The breadth of stuff you can find there never fails to be exciting, whether it’s chasing something rare at the top end of the market or rummaging in boxes of odds under the table.  I love it.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make? 

Looking for value or opportunity for increase in value instead of buying with their heart.  It’s odd, people will buy from the high street with no regard for what the goods will be worth should they want to sell them at some point, but with antiques they can be obsessed with it. Buy because you love it.

(All images © Elizabeth Fell)

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