Here at Wilkinsons Auctioneers we try to keep the personal approach and hope that our customers, both vendors and buyers, feel like one of the family when dealing with us, but for all those new customers who dont know us that well yet, we thought we’d add a few notes about our staff, starting with Mr Wilkinson himself.
How long have you been in the business?
As an auctioneer of antiques and period furniture, over 30 years, including nearly 20 at the current site in Doncaster. In the antique business overall, around 40-45 years.
The first antique you ever bought?
I was 14 years old and I can still picture it. We were in Switzerland on a family holiday and I spotted an ancient Swiss army bag, I kept it for many years. But my fascination with antiques started even before this age, my parents liked ultramodern items so I was always interested in antiques whenever we went past an antique shop window because they were so different to what we had at home.
Favourite antique that you own?
A pair of two wooden egg cups passed down from my grandparents. They are simple things, but brilliant at what they are designed for- I still use them regularly. I do love things like that, which are designed well and great at what they do, however simple or complex.
Favourite item sold at an auction?
A Scipione Tadolini (1822-1892) white marble sculpture of a semi naked nymph, it was simply beautiful, hopefully it has remained so as that was many years ago.
An item you would like to sell?
A vintage Bugatti car, as I might get to test drive it before it was sold. Or a Ming vase, something I’d have probably sold in a job lot 20 years ago, that would be nice.
What are the best and worst aspects of being an auctioneer?
The best is easy, it’s that I (we) get to handle so many beautiful period artefacts and objects. Far more than any normal person would see, even though they dont belong to us, and the variety as well, it’s astonishing. The worst thing is a little harder, but I would probably say the fact that we have to work a lot of weekends, it can be kind of a disadvantage to your social life.
Any guilty pleasures?
I love shellfish, so a large plate of gambas always goes down well…especially accompanied by a larger glass of rose wine.
Have you noticed any trends in the marketplace?
I have actually, although I am sure a lot of people are aware of it too. The fact is that a lot of young people are getting into antiques, it might only be dipping their toe or starting with retro items, but eventually these people are moving into what we know as mainstream pieces. A Georgian chest of drawers for instance is very useful in a home, modestly priced, and will last generations- highlighted by the very fact it already has.
Any advice to anyone starting out?
I can think of three pieces of advice: Specialise, specialize, specialise is one! I can’t say it enough, find something you are interested in and the learn the most you can about it, it will pay dividends in the end. The two other things are to spot quality, you may not know which period a piece is from but if you can spot quality you won’t go too far wrong. Finally, listen to other people, no matter how much you think you know someone else might have the key piece of information that you have never heard before which changes everything.
I hope you’ve found this interesting and rest assured the rest of the staff aren’t getting off scot-free, their interviews will pop up shortly so you can get to know us all.