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Spencer Swaffer

AYG Award Party in London

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Everyone knows that The Antiques Diva® loves a good party. But couple that with an entire party devoted to the world of antiques – filled with the movers and shakers of the antiques world – and I am in my element! I, along with my UK Antiques Diva Agent Gail McLeod and our behind the scenes Creative Guy Andrew Skipper, were recently in London to attend an evening to celebrate the Antiques Heavy Artillery Mentors of Antiques Young Guns at Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair. The party, which was held in the Club Room, was sponsored not only by The Antiques Diva® & Co but also more importantly by BADA, LAPADA, and, of course, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair.

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

Attending the party was a myriad of antiques trade professionals and journalists. We spent the evening mixing and mingling, champagne in hand of course! When it was time for the awards ceremony, I was so pleased to present the award for Most Innovative Mentor to my friend and renowned antiques dealer, Spencer Swaffer. He gave space in his own store for a pop-up shop to his mentoree Paul Jones during the busiest week of the year.  The overall winner of the Heavy Artillery Mentor Program went to Robert Young who could not attend the party, so it was accepted by the Young Gun whom he mentored which happens to be our very own Swedish Divo Guide, Daniel Larsson.

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

Following the reception, everyone gathered at a fabulous new restaurant at Vauxhall called Counter. As well as being a well-known expert on the BBC Antiques Roadshow, Mark is also one of the co-founders of Antiques Young Guns along with Gail McLeod and George Johnson. Drinks, dinner, and lots of conversation ensued until the wee hours of the morning. A Diva’s work is never done!

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

Huge congratulations to Gail Mcleod who worked tirelessly to put this evening together, all while taking VIP clients on tour during the same week as this monumental event in the antiques industry. They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person… well, Gail certainly knows how to get things done! Looking forward to seeing Antiques Young Guns grow in the coming year and can’t wait for the next party!

Antiques Young Guns, AYG Award Party in London, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Andrew Skipper, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones Antiques, Daniel Larsson, Robert Young Antiques, Mark Hill, Counter restaurant, BADA, LAPADA, Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair, Olga, The HighBoy

The Antiques Diva®   

Paul Jones Pop-up Shop at Spencer Swaffer

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 40px; line-height: 30px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Recently on an Antiques Diva Tour, renowned antiques dealer Spencer Swaffer played host to a group of Designers on an an Antiques Diva / Nobelinks Design Tour in the UK.

Spencer Swaffer, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques

The role of host is a well-known role for Spencer and his wife Freya.  Spencer continues his hospitality hosting this month a pop-up shop as part of a mentoring program offered through Antiques Young Guns.

As part of the Antiques Young Guns awards earlier this year a young Welsh dealer named Paul Alexander Jones won a coveted spot to open a small pop-up shop within Swaffer’s store for the next ten days (cleverly in conjunction with Battersea Decorative Fair which is less than a two hour drive from Swaffer’s store).

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Much of the stock offered by Jones does not appear online so venturing to the pop-up gives would-be clients a glimpse into an exclusive inventory of antiques. Hailing from a very rural North Wales town, Jones offers ‘country’ style pieces– think richly glazed potter, beautifully figured timbers and charming, naive folk art. Paul confided he’s bringing some warm Welsh tapestry blankets to sell—perfect timing if you ask me, as Autumn is upon us!

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

As I’m constantly combing over Europe for the best antiques dealers, whether that be quality of pieces or best prices, I’m always thrilled when new talent developed in the antiques field. Having opened his shop in July 2012, Paul Jones is sure to learn a lot about the antiques trade while being mentored by sage Spencer Swaffer. I’m excited to hear more from Paul and see how networking with other established dealers enhances his business!

If you’ll be in the Arundel area over the next week, stop by and say hello to Paul and Spencer. Tell them The Antiques Diva sent you!

Happy shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

At Home with the Lord of Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Have you seen the current issue of Antique Shops and Designers Magazine? In this issue you’ll find an article by me titled “At Home with The Lord of Antiques” featuring one of my favorite antique dealers. Spencer Swaffer is known by many names.  Some call him The Flea Man. The French refer to him as “L’inévitable”because it’s inevitable he’ll be the first in line at the best antiques trade fairs buying the best pieces of stock. His look is old money grandeur with a humorous twist – effortlessly glamorous and achingly stylish. I simply bow when I address him as “The Lord of Antiques”.

English Antiques, Buying antiques in Europe

For forty years Spencer Swaffer has been holding court in a tiny market town in West Sussex fifty miles southwest of London. His business today is one of the most celebrated in the world of decorative antiques with his client list reading like a Who’s Who in the world of interiors. Top antique dealers and designers consider Spencer a compulsory port of call.  While his clients are from both trade and private sectors – Spencer describes himself as a dealer’s dealer. His dog is even named “Dealer” though he claims that was the name the pedigree association gave the puppy and that destiny simply intervened, bringing them together.

Antiques Diva

Despite the store’s exalted position at the top of the trade it remains what it has always been – the place where the antiques trade comes to buy. In short Spencer Swaffer prices his merchandise to move. “I own my building,” Spencer explains, “I have no borrowing, and overheads are low in the countryside. If I buy something for £2,000 I am happy to turn it over for £2,200 – and I always have been. I always say I can’t wait to buy it – and then I can’t wait to sell it!” And sell it he does. One of the most successful decorative antiques dealers in the world,  his total annual sales are rumored to top £4m with 85% of his business coming from overseas buyers.

Buying antiques in Europe

Spencer thinks the secret of his success as an antiques dealer comes from paying close attention to the antiques trends. “I am in the fashion business, not in the antiques business,” he explains. He doesn’t just watch the trends, he sets them. Spencer stills does all the buying for the shop himself and his exclusive eye choreographs not only his own collections but with so many dealers buying direct from him he has shaped the stock found in some of the top antique stores around the world.

He’s candid about the business, explaining the only way to learn what sells “is to buy something and listen to why the dealers won’t buy it.”  He notes with a wry grin, “The professionals will tell you why they aren’t buying something, but they will never tell you why they are!”

Spencer is the consummate professional. He should be – he’s been doing this job since the ripe old age of 11. As a child, Spencer trawled the hills around his home looking for Neolithic flints and shards of Roman pottery and after amassing an impressive collection he dubbed his childhood bedroom.  The Swaffer Museum charging friends and family admission. When BBC radio got wind of Spencer’s museum, they featured him on the air, giving the young lad his first brush with fame. By chance, an antiques dealer from Brighton heard the program and made an appointment to visit Spencer’s collection. He paid his admission fee but then offered Spencer another 50 quid for two pieces of Egyptian pottery. Realizing he would rather have the money than the exhibits, Spencer didn’t miss a trick. He instantly converted his bedroom from museum to antiques shop. And the rest is history.

Buying antiques in England

Today clients purchasing from Spencer buy with the same speed and enthusiasm. Spencer’s stock changes so fast it will make your head spin.  Spencer remarks, “If you love it, buy it. Trust your instinct – buy what speaks to you.” Every piece is unique and impossible to repeat. With the constantly revolving inventory and parade of international buyers his showroom décor changes nearly every two weeks.

Buying antiques in England

Spencer’s rambling 6000 square foot showrooms range over four floors in an Elizabethan bow front dating back to the late 16th century. The building meanders as invitingly today as it did when it was an inn nearly 400 years ago. Coffee and tea are always ready to be served. And if you arrive late in the afternoon a glass of wine is sure to be offered. Behind the store a walled garden is tucked below Arundel Castle – a restored romantic medieval castle that gives one fantasies of the Knights of the Round Table. His courtyard beckons invitingly with a Roman font and garden statuary.

Antiques Diva

Spencer’s home – like his shop – is equally inviting. He and his wife, Freya, live in a double fronted Georgian townhouse located a short stroll from his shop, convenient for meeting clients by appointment after opening hours. For years he lived in an apartment above his shop – but occasionally clients would accidentally wander up the stairs and begin labeling their desired purchases with shipping stickers. Today Spencer and Freya ‘s house has a shiny red door no one can miss. It’s flanked with white columns and has a walled garden set into the hillside where Freya lends her hand nurturing English herbaceous classics and cultivating a kitchen garden. The palm frocks dotted around the property give a touch of the unexpected – a sense of the English Riveria – owing to a micro climate created by the walled gardens.

Antiques Diva

And while Spencer might be The Lord of Antiques, Freya is clearly the Lady of the Manor. After purchasing the property they immediately began a renovation process that spanned 6 months stripping centuries away to uncover the period details. The result is inviting and comfortable nodding slightly towards the rustic with its unvarnished original wide oak floorboards and an 18th C limestone fireplace Spencer sourced in France. While Freya handled the day-to-day management of the renovation project, she concedes that Spencer did take a keen interest in the decorative aspects.

Antiques Diva

Perhaps the most striking difference between Spencer’s home and his store is the paired down approach. Freya explains, “Less is more.” The couple allows each piece in their home to breath – using muted colors on the walls and casual fabrics on upholstered pieces. While the shop is constantly changing, Spencer and Freya’s home stays reassuringly the same, save for the odd object getting replaced now and then. Their home is sparser, cleaner and a tad more ethnic than you’d find in shop. And while there is a country influence in the decor, this 200 year old home feels decisively contemporary with open spaces and light filtering from the southern coast of England into the windows. The kitchen kitted out with the most modern of fittings juxtaposing the 18th C with the 21st reminding one of how the grand country English manors layer time over time.

Where to find him:

Spencer Swaffer Antiques
30 High St, Arundel,
West Sussex County
BN18 9AB, United Kingdom

Web:
spencerswaffer.co.uk

Bonne Shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

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