Dealer Max Rutherston who has launched a virtual marketplace.

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Netsuke specialist Max Rutherston has set up a virtual marketplace hosted on his website,

“I used to think nothing of bringing things from the EU. All that was involved was the cost of shipping, which in my case was minimal,” said Rutherston.

“But of course, it becomes much more complicated as soon as you get into having to pay VAT on an item and then to reclaim the VAT if you sell it abroad. It involves more time and money.

“As I have very few UK clients it seemed sensible to try and sell things through the website and only moving them at the time in which they are sold.”


Max Rutherston's website.

Rutherston says the virtual marketplace, which he launched a few weeks ago, lists only netsuke for sale from international sellers he trusts. Each listing also identifies the location of the object.

“Knowing where the object is permits anyone interested in buying to ascertain whether there are likely to be additional costs of import, other than predetermined shipping fees,” he said.

Once a sale is agreed, payment is made to Rutherston’s gallery and the object is despatched by the seller to the buyer. The proceeds of the sale are not remitted to the seller until the purchaser receives the object and is satisfied.

“I think this market-place model could work for a lot of dealers selling things remotely”, said Rutherston.

Earlier this year, Rutherston moved his gallery to Ealing in west London from St James’s where he was based for 10 years. He continues to run the gallery by appointment.