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She remembers “feeling so excited that I was allowed to place a bid on a little curiosity that had fired my imagination”. And that’s where it all began.

Today – still living in the same county – Allinson runs her online antiques business, Allinson Duke, with her family from a Georgian house on the outskirts of the market town of Darlington which she shares with her seven-year-old daughter Lola, her stock of antique furniture and unusual interiors pieces as well as her collections.

She sources most of her stock privately, but is also a regular buyer at IACF Newark, the regular York car boot at York Racecourse plus two auction houses: Thomas Miller in Newcastle and Railtons in Wooler, Northumberland.

Starting out

Before launching her business, Allinson worked with horses, but found this too restricting after Lola was born. “I had always collected antiques and vintage and knew that I wanted my hobby to become a business. I didn’t know where to begin but I got a job in a local auction house and stayed there for two years picking up as much knowledge as I could.”

Outside her work she started dealing and five years ago launched her business. Talking about this and her own collecting tastes, Allinson said: “I never buy a piece in prestige condition as I like my antiques to show their wear.

“I fell in love with antiques because of the stories they tell, so anything that shows its age I am drawn to. I collect Persian and Turkish rugs and kilims. I’m also obsessed with chairs. I must have 50 around the house from all eras and in all states of faded grandeur. My tastes change continually depending on the houses we are working on at the time.”

Allinson said the business does not specialise in one specific era – “our buyers mix antique and vintage with handmade pieces of furniture; we are all becoming a little more eclectic in our tastes”.

She added: “We source our stock from across the country and also abroad and much of it is then restored. We do house calls and attend auction houses, fairs and car boots. Our UK customer base is large – we run deliveries to as far north as Edinburgh and south to Bournemouth.”

And Lola too has the collecting bug. She enjoys rummaging around car boot sales and auctions and spending her pocket money on little china ornaments of animals.