Dealer Mel Caswell.

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1 How did you get your start?

Antiques have been a lifelong passion of mine. My mother has always been an antiques dealer, doing fairs at weekends, and about 12 years ago I bit the bullet, sold up my shoe business and reopened the shop with antiques. I’ve never looked back.

2 What is the first sale you made?

The first thing I ever bought for our shop and still one of my greatest finds: a large Meiji period carved ivory crab on its own beautiful stand. I sold it to the most wonderful couple who have since become firm friends.

3 What is one common question you get from buyers?

It depends on the area of stock. I have always had an affinity with Japanese antiques because of the pure beauty, craftsmanship and whole culture.

People are really interested in the legends and the meaning behind pieces. However, I also have always been a collector of the weird and macabre as well as taxidermy.

After downsizing my house last year and putting my collections up for sale, I seem to have fallen into a side-line trade in that area, which is going well – with objects on that side of the business people usually ask, “what is it?”.

4 How do you use the internet in your business?

Selling from time to time, but mostly for research, especially as I have some really strange Victorian gadgets in stock.

5 What is your ‘holy grail’ – something you would love to find?

Some genuine Waterloo teeth – dentures made from the teeth of fallen soldiers at the 1815 battle. I’ve had wooden and even ivory false teeth, but real Waterloo would be the ultimate find.

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