When her father died of appendicitis due to a war-time lack of medication, the family remained in Paris – supported by friends and relatives – but after the war moved first to Cyprus, and then to England.
It was there that Ivy married Bruce Ismay, an army intelligence officer, later a master at St Bartholemew’s Grammar School in Newbury where Ida grew up with her younger sister Veronique, and half-sister Helen (who went on to become the youngest antiques dealer in Bath).
Ida attended the catholic St Gabriel’s School for girls and had thought of becoming a nun before first going into banking (in her father’s footsteps) and then a long career at the Ministry of Defence while stalling out at weekends at the local antiques fairs.
Offered early retirement, she leapt at the chance to begin a new chapter in her life: and inspired by the wonderful linens and toiles that could then still be found, she was soon a familiar figure at the antiques fairs and ‘les grands déballages’ in south-west France, and when selling at Ardingly and Kempton Park.
She went to India several times and established the contacts she later relied on.
But her passion became the incredible richness of woven cloths and embroideries to be found in Turkey. Based in Istanbul, which she came to know like the back of her hand, and a legendary figure in the Grand Bazaar where she seemed to know and be known by everyone (the word would go out from the hotel that she was flying in), she also travelled widely to find those niche items for which she became so well known.
When advised of a cancer and beginning the treatment which extended her life, the only change she did not accept was that she could no longer travel. Across two years, unless under treatment, she did not miss a Kempton until one day she said quite simply that she would not be going up on Tuesday, and in a little more than three weeks later she was dead.
Ida passed away on August 4, 2022, at St Michaels’ Hospice, Basingstoke, with her family around her.
Of all the accolades that have since come flooding in – her impeccable taste, the zest she brought to everything she did, and latterly her extraordinary courage – above all was a recognition of her warmth and honesty.
She did not pretend to be more than what she was and as someone who was learning as she went along, she was happy to pass on what knowledge and expertise she acquired to anyone with an interest.
Her stand was always a blaze of colour, and her greatest pleasure was to be stalling out with friends around her in anticipation of what the day might bring, and to see again familiar faces dropping by for a chat and to admire, if not to buy.
There was always a deal to be done with Ida, and in that she was truly a dealer’s dealer. She is and will be sorely missed.