Joining two dealers’ trade associations does not address that issue.
LAPADA and BADA are both historic associations very good at promoting their members and that shouldn’t change.
Speak for entire trade
What’s needed is a broader more inclusive ‘antiques council’ which would have no membership requirements other than a passion for antiques and a nominal annual subscription (£15-20).
It should speak for the entire trade and wider bodies – auctioneers, dealers of any size or scope, be they online only, fair/market traders, shop/gallery owners or exhibitors at the most prestigious events in the world.
It should also encompass carriers, event organisers, restorers, conservators, heritage workers, publishers (such as the ATG which always steps forward and plays a vital role in any debate) AND possibly the largest and most overlooked group, collectors of antiques.
Having a similar model to organisations such as the National Trust or the WI, the antiques council could focus directly on antiques and represent the protection and appreciation of antiques for all parties.
The exact form it would take would be worked out by its members but I’d suggest a governing committee drawn of six auctioneers, six dealers and 10 associated groups with a president and vice president. Also, an annual AGM and local satellite groups meeting monthly to discuss issues and broaden knowledge and appreciation of all antiques.
I’m sure a website and social media presence would also enable it to grow and connect across all the various disciplines and professions covered by the umbrella of ‘antiques’.
One criticism we faced again and again over speaking publicly about ivory was that we were ‘selfish greedy dealers looking out for themselves’.
A much broader, more inclusive nationwide organisation which focuses primarily on antiques themselves would, I believe, speak with much greater authority if we were all prepared to put aside those long established senses of tribalism and promote and protect the field itself.
We shouldn’t forget the enormous appeal and love we British have for antiques and our heritage and if we took the small step to focus that interest and grow it, the “trickle down” benefits for auctioneers, dealers, collectors and everyone else would be substantial.
We should go forward now, not bogged down in our own small interests but adopting the much broader approach speaking and acting in the interest of the antiques themselves.
I believe that would make our combined voices strike a truer and purer chord to the wider public and Government.
Michael Baggott, Silver dealer