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Vintage – It’s A Treasure Hunt

We are on the hunt, the treasure hunt, seven days a week. There is no mythical warehouse, we find our stock at source, wherever that be, from the tip of Scotland to the farthest corners of Europe and beyond. We are on the road, doing the miles, pretty much seven days a week, ears and eyes open, accompanied by Daffy our workhorse truck.


Relentless curiosity

Buying vintage is a bit like hunting for truffles, you have to have a nose for it and a relentless curiosity. There are of course wholesale warehouses in Europe and numerous ‘antique fairs’ where the trade goes to buy, but we rarely tread the same path, we buy at source, where the stuff comes from.

We have over forty years experience buying vintage, literally all over the world, and that means we simply know where and when to go.

Where do you buy a decent French farmhouse table? In a French farmhouse, not in Belgium. 

Where do you buy a run of 100 stacking Mullca French school chairs? From a dusty old barn in France where they have been squirelled away since the caretaker put them in storage in the fifties. Where do you buy a run of mouthblown Czech opaline pendant lamps? From the demolition merchant saving them from a hotel that is being refurbished, or worse still pulled down.


We often get asked how do you know if it’s genuine or how old is a piece? The only answer is experience, we have seen and handled thousands of items over the years and it creates a memory bank of knowledge, it either looks right or it doesn’t, you cannot fake it. There are four things to look for:

The design, if for example you are looking at a Stafor cabinet, there is a language of design, construction and proportion that runs across all the pieces that Strafor ever made, there are tell tale signs. We are always on the hunt for original makers catalogues to help us but they are increasingly hard to find, they help but are not definitive.

The construction, a good example would be bentwood chairs, whether they be from Thonet or Baumann the construction methods were actually very similar and give huge clues to the age and originality. Bentwood chairs from the early 20th century have very distinct differences, the bolts securing  the back legs are square cut and deeply pitted with rust, no matter how well they were cared for. The front legs were originally secured with wooden pegs rather than the later use of screws, these are all important clues.


Cabinet pieces are wonderful to explore when sourcing, often the best clues are in the construction of the carcass and the drawers. More basic pieces will have cheaper materials for the carcass and less robust joints. A Pollards haberdashery cabinet is often considered the benchmark for shop fit with oak often used throughout and dovetail joints used for robustness of the drawers.

Condition and character are the last piece in the jigsaw. Timber is a living breathing natural material and even after 100 years it is still moving and responding to sunlight and humidity. A French farm house table that has sat in a sunny kitchen where it has been scrubbed clean every day will have the most extraordinary soft faded colour and texture. A Benjamin light that has hung un touched from a factory roof will be virtually perfect except for the thick layers of dust and grease. 


Together all of these weave the story of every piece that we find, and of course the holy grail is to find an original makers mark or label.

Sourcing is also a logistics business, we have a practical large 7.5 tonne truck that is the workhorse of our business. It is on the road literally hundreds of days a year. If we find something special you need to grab it and load it, we only relax when it’s paid for and loaded on board.

Every day is different, every sourcing trip is an unknown. Every dusty barn we enter still sends tingles down our spine, the hunt is what drives us and hopefully allows us to be able to offer you the truly unique and special finds.


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