Kate Wells sitting in front of a 1950s carnival handpainted piece of artwork, which she has recently sold. She is happy to look out for similar pieces for customers.

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They’re not ‘youngsters’ as such, both being in their late 20s, but Kate Hanks and Henry Burns are in the wave of young dealers who are putting their own spin on working in the trade.

They are both standholders at Alan Old’s So Last Century Fairs selling Mid-century in and around London where both the customers and dealers reflect the younger crowd of local buyers.

Career paths diverge

Hanks and her partner Mark Thornett discovered their love for antiques when both their careers stalled in lockdown, hers in the theatre and his as a landscape gardener.

Hanks said: “I was a musical theatre performer and dance teacher so when the pandemic hit my life changed with no prospect of performing work and minimal teaching over Zoom. So I started painting the furniture at home as I love a DIY project.

“But I ended up selling the pieces and that grew very quickly into a furniture upcycling business. A year later I became more interested in the antiques side and when my partner moved in we directed the business into decorative antiques as Mark found his passion for restoration.”

Fully embracing the trade’s magnetic draw, the couple have now given up their previous jobs to concentrate on standing at fairs and markets in London. Wells said: “We love what we do even the 4.30am starts for antiques hunting and late nights stapling new upholstered seats before a fair.

“We have found our feet selling dining tables and chairs at the moment. We meet a lot of customers who vibe with our style and we then hunt for specific items for them.”

Early starter


Henry Burns, right, talking to a customer at one of So Last Century’s fairs at St Dunstan’s College, Catford.

“I’d frequented car boots and markets from a young age but had never thought of making the addiction a career”, said Henry Burns, who trades as Dusty Orange.

“I fell into the industry when the mother of a uni friend of mine was setting up a vintage and makers’ market at Flat Iron Square near London Bridge, and they wanted someone to manage it. I was fresh out of art college and was doing a variety of jobs to support myself including set building, art handling, bar work and this seemed like it could be good fun.

“Three of us shared the job from 2016 to 2019 and part of the deal as well as getting paid was that we were given a pitch which set the whole dealing thing off.

“I’m doing pretty solidly at the moment and for financial security I balance it by also working as a gallery technician and my art practice.” Dusty Orange offers a “mix of smalls from £5-50, with armchairs from £200-400, dining tables £200- 550 and coffee tables from £50-340”.

Instagram: @hsp_burns

Upcoming events

So Last Century’s next vintage fair is at St Dunstan’s College in Catford, south-east London on Saturday and Sunday, February 11-12, where both Hanks and Burns are standing.

Flea London now runs in Vinegar Yard, beside London Bridge Station, every Saturday and Sunday.

If you are a young dealer, maybe under 30, and would like to feature in this column please email: