Dealer John Bird.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

1. How did you get your start?

By looking after a dealer’s shop in Brighton as a teenager while she moved house. Her name was Annarella Clark, a charismatic and eccentric Bohemian with eclectic and flamboyant taste and style – so much so that most of the Pimlico Road and Kings Road dealers beat a path to her door when they came down for their weekends in Brighton.

Since I started my own business, it has always been about discovering and selecting unusual items of aesthetic merit and historical interest which can be restored and made useful for a modern interior or home, often in that process saving and recycling a piece that would otherwise be discarded.

2. How has the trade changed?

When I first started in the early 1970s you could sell almost anything. There was a lot of inter-trading and turnover was rapid, with a strict 10% trade discount.

There was a developing export market, mainly American, ravenous for antique furnishings of every kind. Twenty containers left every week for the US.

Dealing now is much changed. With the instant exposure of goods on the internet there is less mystery too – although you can be surprised occasionally by something that you have not seen before. 

3. One thing you learned about the trade during the past 12 months?

That late 20th century furniture and furnishings has become an established look that people want to buy, although I am personally not a huge fan.

4. An exhibition you would love to stage?

English painted furniture of all periods from Chippendale to Country Vernacular. It has always been an interest of mine.

5. What fairs do you attended as an exhibitor?

I exhibit at the Decorative Antique and Textile Fair, Battersea, London, 3 times a year, and the ADL Petworth Park fair in May.

6. As a visitor?

Masterpiece, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia and the Bath and Bruton decorative fairs.

7. One high point in your career so far?

It is certainly not the only high point of my career but I was thrilled to buy recently the finest early 19th century eight-fold Chinese export lacquer screen that I have ever seen. 

8. How do you go about restoration of stock?

I have several restorers, each with their specialist capabilities but I also am fairly handy myself.

9. Real ale or espresso martini?

Definitely more of a real ale man.