I grew up in England, my father and grandfather were both antique dealers handling ceramics, basically anything that broke they dealt in it. As I progressed through school my first choice was to go in to the British Army as an officer, going to Sandhurst and serve in the Devon and Dorset Regiment. I passed my exams, the interview and the physical and mental challenge selection day. However, the day before i arrived at Sandhurst I threw my back out, and the physical demands of the training with a bad back and prior broken neck from Rugby put me into hospital and a release from the service. I was very disappointed.
I had missed university entry as Sandhurst started at the same time, so I found myself a job in the City of London working for Norwich Union at Llloyds of London as a management trainee learning about aviation insurance. Whilst it was interesting, wondering why anyone would think to ask for insurance when driving hovercraft over exploding dynamite, it was a little too slow for me.
I next thought to go to Israel to work on a kibbutz but my parents had other plans as my father needed help in his shop, so he could send my brother to the USA to open another shop there. So, I drifted into the antiques business. There was plenty to learn and lots to do. It kept me busy and I basically enjoyed it. But I wanted to stand on my own two feet so was thinking of goingto work in a hotel and learn the business. My father died suddenly, and I got dropped into running the London end of the family business.
It took me a little while to get my confidence to spend the large sums required on pieces, but I remember the turning point at an antiques fair in Holland, in Delft. I had walked around twice and was about to leave, not having found anything to buy.Suddenly I look up and on the top of an armoire was this most amazing set of Chinese 18th century famille rose jardinieres, for holding flowers or plants. They were decorated with pheasants and flowers and were absolutely beautiful. I knew I had to buy them, after some negotiation we settled on a price. We sold them for several times what I paid for them and that gave me the confidence that I knew what I was doing.
Well my brother and I found it hard working together so we ended up splitting the business apart, and I ended up moving to America as this was where our clients were mainly. I settled on Philadelphia and no sooner were we here than my bank at a routine meeting I had flown back to the UK for on the eve of the first Gulf War called my loan. We lost everything.
I tried different things here but my visa did not allow me to work for anyone. I worked as a sub contractor for a friend to make ends meet. Then I acted as a broker finding things for some select clients. Whilst I was doing this we got our Green Card in the Green Card Lottery, that is another long story in itself.
I ended uyp working for a magazine in Boston in the antiques and fine art world, and from there was asked to run a new Antiques and Jewelry Show in Palm Beach. After six months I realized one of the partners resented me taking his job and having acheived what I was hired to do, selling the show out, something he had not been able to do, I left and came home to Philadelphia.
I decided to try real estate, my wife was already an agent and I thought my skills of identifying people's needs, negotiation skills etc. would help me in the business. I had a wonderful first year and the rest is history, having been doing it for 15 years now.
I miss the antiques world, and although I run some antiques shows for local charities I am looking for a new way to be involved so I can travel and buy things again.