A Dealer’s Tale

In a recent posting Quinney's we reprinted Thomas Rohan's advice to antique collectors. In this short work Don't: some concise and useful hints for the collector. Thomas Rohan Bournemouth, [1933] he also finds space to include the following dealer's tale. Dealers are fond of anecdotes, mostly of amazing finds and amazing bargains and mark ups ( '..found it in a junk shop for £5, Sothebys later sold it for £45000..' etc.,) but this a little different from the usual 'I had it away' story and even has elements of myth and legend...

Extracts from a Talk I gave to the Alton Society 

Many incidents I can tell from the niches of my memory relating to beautiful things. One extraordinary tale I will tell relating to a bureau bookcase. This happened some years before I became a dealer. I was in the habit of visiting various towns in Kent and Surrey during the week-ends. I always was on the look out to see beautiful things, and if I stayed in a town I always enquired of any place where antique furniture was housed - this, you must remember was nearly fifty years ago, before the country was scoured for the voracious American. While staying at a cathedral town in Kent, I was told of a farmhouse about two miles out, stocked with, as it was called, "old stuff". The place was called Priestly's Farm, an old Georgian white house on the main road, with barns and out houses: I could not miss it. I was further told that Joe Priestly was a very genial man. I certainly did find him that: he was a typical yeoman farmer of florid face and sandy whiskers and hair. He gave me a cordial welcome to look at his old furniture: some of it had been there for four generations. I certainly was struck with a set of fine Chippendale chairs, six, and two carving chairs, and a fine bureau bookcase. All the furniture was in its original state, the old mellow colour. I was admiring the bureau bookcase, and saying how I should like to possess it. the farmer smiled and shook his head. "Not all the money you could mention could buy that piece from me. The reason I will tell you, sir, if you will sit down. Have a glass of my cider?" He went out and brought in a jug of cider and two glasses, and we say down. This is his story: -

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