Paul Martin of Robin Martin Antiques.

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1 How did you get your start?

I started after school at the much-lamented Christie’s South Kensington in the early 1980s lugging carpets, bronzes etc around for three years. Many of my fellow luggers have stayed in this business and reached elevated positions in the art world. It was a great training ground which has sadly gone for new entrants. I now specialise in 18th and 19th century European furniture and decorative arts. I particularly love the creative madness of Baroque Europe in the early 18th century where anything is possible and even probable.


German carved and painted giltwood side table, 1735, features a Verde Antico marble top above a fluted frieze, and is offered for £38,000 by Robin Martin Antiques.

2 What is one great discovery you have made?

Not really my story to tell, but the greatest discovery I made without being able to buy it was the Fatimid gold mounted rock crystal ewer in a West Country sale in 2014. Estimated at £200, this 11th century masterwork was eventually granted a UK export license at £18m a couple of years later. It was the greatest object I have ever had the excitement of holding in any saleroom anywhere, let alone in a provincial room. Worth a small chapter on its own, a story of litigation, title dispute and rumours of authenticity, but it is now a fully documented world treasure.

Holy Grail, another Fatimid rock crystal ewer, anything by A-C Boulle or the pair to Michael Kimmels masterpiece from Mentmore, the bureau cabinet in the V and A. The greatest piece of furniture anywhere?

3 What is one item you couldn’t do without?

Should probably say torch or UV light but in fact, very superstitious - so a tiny, lucky Cornish brass Pixie which sits surrounded by old coins and a fiver in a bronze mortar in my office. When he’s there, the future is bright!

4 Do you have a collection at home?

No, very little at home as by training I find it difficult to keep rather than sell. I like a mixture of things quite sparsely arranged, although reference books are everywhere. I have kept a beautiful little table cabinet, as the first piece which cost me over £1000 causing sleepless nights many years ago.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Real ale, no contest.