It is true that faith is the first step in learning about antiques, let alone anything else in life. But in learning about antiques, there have to be mistakes that are made. This is also probably true about life as well, just look at our current president. The problem is when do mistakes stop and faith have to end? The answer to both is never.

There was a dealer in London who died a number of years ago, Dick Turpin. Every dealer used to warn neophytes from buying from him. I, however, always found him reasonably charming, quite knowledgeable and impossible to get money from. Once I got money out of him, I found him interesting to listen to and a great deal more straightforward than many of the “honest” dealers in the trade.

I think my advantage in this business was to spend time going to the London College of Furniture. Bullshit is much harder to ram down the throat of someone who knows just what a “wax finish” is or that “construction techniques” were absolutely uniform. Wax finishes don’t last and construction techniques vary, that is a hard and fast rule. Take my word for it.


The New York Times is almost as silly as the Wall Street Journal when it comes to talking about trends in the furniture world, be they antique or contemporary. Today, there was an article on a woman who has a second career faux finishing cast off tables and re-selling them. How inventive!

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but my niece, Liberty Howell makes a much more interesting table than the faux jaguar table featured in the NYT today. She has a table that has glass with printing on, printed material that you can order specifically. It is a neat idea and should get great publicity.

The issue of publicity is always a question of who you know. Merit has little to do with anything. Too bad. “All the news thats fit to print” used to be bowdlerized to all the news that fits, we’ll print. It does sort of seem that way.