In the 1970s he graduated to school fetes and aged 17, it was house clearances: “I couldn’t believe how much hard work they were but I loved the sense of adventure.
“Next it was a succession of stalls in antique centres and a realisation that my true vocation was in the world of antiques and the people who buy and sell them.
“I opened my shop in Worthing and 20 years later I am still here doing the job I love best.”
Nicholls, who has appeared on a number of TV antiques shows, stands at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC, IACF Ardingly and Sandown Park, Sunbury Antiques Market and Matthew Adams’ antiques fairs at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London. These last two are his favourites and the most lucrative, he added.
Talking about his recent successful day at Kempton Park, Nicholls said: “We sold out of all the smalls – silver frames, cruets, salvers, tea sets, flatware, plus some Worcester porcelain, clocks, Doulton vases and a fantastic coromandel vanity box, a couple of paintings and some portrait miniatures.
“We went with eight large boxes and came back with eight empty ones.”
As a proud father, Nicholls added: “My son Peter is my right-hand man and I couldn’t be without him. He has superb knowledge on jewellery, especially Deco, mid-century, contemporary and modern. I am immensely proud of him and we make a great team.”