Dianne Brick of Amherst Antiques.

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About retiring, she says: “It’s a hugely difficult decision for most people. I didn’t stop because it wasn’t working any more, but there is a time for everything. I wanted to retire when I felt I was winning.

“I have been working for 58 years - not always in the antiques trade - and thought I should have a bit of time off. I didn’t want to carry on until I was 90. I wanted to go when I felt I was totally in command and not reliant on other people to do it for me.”

There was no obvious person to hand the business to with no family waiting in the wings and no other interested party.

“It’s a niche business and I’ve built up so much knowledge along the way I don’t think it’s something to pass along.

“I wouldn’t want to sell the company to someone who I didn’t think wasn’t completely focused on it.”


Tunbridge Ware table cabinet veneered in bird’s-eye maple with a view of the Solar and Buckingham Buildings, Penshurst Place, Kent. It stands 10in (26cm) high with four graduated drawers and is attributed to Henry Hollamby, who was known for his mosaics of topographical subjects. The ticket price is £1850 but as part of the Amherst Antiques closing-down sale it is £1495.

The decision leaves Brick wondering what she will do with her extensive archives.

“People keep saying, ‘are you going to write a book?’,” she adds - and she is considering doing so, despite being realistic about the time commitment and effort involved. She may also look at depositing her archives in an appropriate place.

“I need to think about how I deal with my intellectual property. I think it’s an issue the trade hasn’t addressed properly.”

Sometimes when members of the trade speak about dealers’ retirements it is with the implication that to step back is a shame. For Brick, it has been a positive experience.

“It’s been humbling. As soon as I told my customers I was going, I was overwhelmed with messages and well wishes. When you start a business it never occurs to you to think how you’ll close it down. We’re selling off the rest of our stock now and so far, I’ve only sold off to my clients.”