Thursday 10 August 2017

Together in the community - Emmaus Lambeth and Maddison's


Maddison's in West Norwood is a specialist house clearance service "an old fashioned junk shop" and antiques dealer, and for many years now has been a neighbour of our "Lofty" shop on Knights Hill.

Today I was joined by the owner, Ian Middleton, who shared with me his experience in the antiques trade,  his favourite find and information on what is trending well right now.

"For me, antiques are something I've been surrounded by pretty much all my life.

My dad is an antiques dealer and growing up he had 2 big shops based in Sydenham, south east London, but by the time I had left school he had downsized.

After working at The Hard Rock cafe and travelling to America to see a family member, I returned to England looking for a job.

At the time, Roseberys auction house had their auction house located in the old part of the train station at Crystal Palace, and one day my dad took me to see an auction there.

There was no auction on that day but he asked if there was any jobs going, and a few months later I was employed, more on an apprenticeship, as a porter on sales day, before moving on to catalogue descriptions and general valuations.

When Roseberys moved to its current location on Knights Hill, West Norwood, about 20 years ago, I left and went and worked for Sotheby's Auction House for about a year, again as a porter, often handling goods with very high prices.

The first auction I was involved in was The Impressionist Sale, which included a Monet that ended up selling for 17 million pounds!

On returning to Rosebery's I found that I was growing tired of working in that particular job, and by this time Rosebery's were slowly starting to phase out their general sales, so in 2003 I set up my own business of offering a house clearance service and dealing in the more modest items that were deemed no longer suitable to take to an auction".

When asked how he felt about on-line auction sites, Ian went on to say:

"Are they good? I would say yes and no.

With a lot of them you can go directly to the collector and the costs are a lot less than taking that item or items to a traditional " bricks and mortar" auction, and in general they are good for specialist items.

On the other hand they are not that great for the trade as a whole because anyone can now set themselves up as a dealer online and cut out the middle man, which is a good thing, but only if they know what they have and can describe it correctly to reach the right buyers and therefore achieve the best price for that item"

The conversation then turned to current trends and Ian's best find

" As for current trends, mid-century is still big at the moment, and has been for a while now right the way through from furniture to art and glass and most retro home wares of that period. 

Antique items these days don't tend to be as sought after as they were maybe 10 years ago, and it tends to be younger people buying antique furniture at the moment to up-cycle and/or paint a lot of the items they buy.

A reason for this is they see the quality in these pieces but the typical dark brown finishes are not in taste, but a good thing is antique items are lower than ever to buy.

As for my favourite find, this would have to be a large original black and white photograph of the first Chelsea football team from the 1905/6 season in it's original frame, measuring 28" x 36".

It could be dated easily because a player by the name of William "Fatty" Foulke was in this picture and he only played for Chelsea that one season.

Football folklore says that he is the origin of the "who ate all the pies" chant because of his size!

I remember the seller being an "eccentric" Chelsea supporting retired solicitor who himself had bought it 20 years before off a landlord who was selling his pub near to Stamford Bridge and had it stored it in his basement.

I had it in my store and in 2007 I see  that a specialist sporting auction was accepting entries for their next sale which included a lot of Chelsea memorabilia so I put it in with them.

It made almost 10 times the estimate - I guess it just happened to be at the right sale at the right time".

Changing the subject slightly to the topic of house clearances, Ian told me:

"I like house clearances because I get a lot of repeat customers through the work I do with solicitors and I try and sell a bit of everything so when I do a house clearance there is always something I will able to sell"

Lastly, we spoke about any items out there at the moment that Ian finds are doing surprisingly well, and how his relationship with Emmaus has evolved over the years

" I would say nothing really surprises me, as trends tend to go round in cycles, but collectibles always seem to do well.

An example of this was last year.

I was doing a house clearance out in Surrey and came across a collection of match books dating back to the 30's and 50's.

The matches inside were all used but surprisingly they ended up making a good price online because there was two collectors that really wanted them for their collections.

As for Emmaus, its good for me and my clients, I started off by being a customer buying and selling the items I had purchased from you guys back in the early days.

Now we donate to Emmaus Lambeth on an almost daily basis. Our clients are happy to know that the items we can not give shop space to such as certain items of furniture, bric-a-brac, clothing and other general items, are going to charity".

A big thank you to Ian for his time today!

For more information about Maddison's please go to

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