Sheffield Antiques- one of the oldest antiques businesses in Sheffield
As part of the Sheffield Antiques Quarter’s celebration of National Antiques Week, Sheffield Unchained is spending the week visiting some of the independents in the Quarter to find out the stories behind their businesses. Here is a small insight into the one of the oldest antiques businesses in Sheffield…
Christine, 64, was inspired to enter the trade by her mother, who had a passion for glass antiques and used to take Christine to antiques markets as a hobby:
“I started out in the 60’s just doing it part time, doing markets with my mum. I then went to art college and developed an interest in restoring old furniture. I couldn’t get a job when I left college so I got a shop instead. That’s when I started and I’ve had shops in numerous places, some in Chesterfield, some in Sheffield but I’ve always been Sheffield Antiques.”
Christine says her interest has always been in period furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries. As well as buying and selling antiques, Christine also restores period furniture and her speciality is traditional cane seating. She also teaches workshops in most country crafts such as rug making, rush seating and seagrass seating.
Working together to find antiques
According to Christine the traditional meaning of an antique is anything over 150 years old. She said that anything from 1850 backward is an antique to her, although she said most people accept anything over 100 years old as an antique. Christine collects her antiques the old fashioned way, relying on her reputation as a traditional antiques buyer to find her trade:
“I find my stuff through word of mouth mostly, because I have been in the trade so long a lot of the other dealers know of me. If they find anything traditional they give my number to the seller, as they don’t deal in traditional antiques. We do tend to try and work together, if it is something that someone else deals in and you pass it on.”
Christine is taking an alternative attitude towards the antiques trade in reaction to the growing interest in Retro.
“At the moment I am trying to focus on traditional antiques and to keep away from the Retro. There are so many people doing the Retro side for the young ones and, being older myself, I am trying to cater for the older ones. I buy and sell period country furniture and more traditional antiques. I don’t do modern, I just try and stick to the traditional meaning of antiques and I also do a bit of vintage clothing.”
Money isn’t everything
Despite the current economic climate, Christine believes that the new Sheffield Antiques Quarter has added to the footfall in antiques shops in the area:
“We are becoming better known, so more and more people are finding out about us and they are even coming on the train. It is encouraging as money is a lot tighter because of the recession. People are being careful about what they buy, so I have to be very careful how I buy and just put money into things that I think people are going to want, rather than gamble on an item that I think people might buy.”
However, Christine said the fun never goes out of buying and selling antiques and she is very passionate about her job:
“You never know what you are going to find next. I go to shows every weekend, most Sundays I am doing something. So I am always looking around for something that may interest, something that I may want to buy for myself or for something a little bit unusual. There is always what the trade calls ‘the sleeper’; something that you have knowledge of and other people might not have as much knowledge of, car boots sales are great for that.”
“I think I am very lucky in that I have always been able to work at something I love. I probably could have earned a lot more money working for someone else, but I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed life as much as I have, doing what I am doing. You are not tied to an office and a boss who is telling you what to do and you please yourself how you spend your money and where your money goes, its been an interesting life.”