I deal in Pre 1750 Chinese Ceramics from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Early Qing Dynasties mainly and in Chinese 18th and 19th century Textiles mainly rank badges.
When did you start dealing?
I started dealing in a very small way when I was at Oxford University. I grew up in a house full of Chinese Antiques and with people that understood them. However, I didn't like them at that time, until I realized that I had learnt much by osmosis - so to speak - and I had grown up.
I consider a two year old Irish thoroughbred mare that I bought when I was only 16 my best buy. But if you are asking about the field that I am now a dealer in, it is a yellow ground dragon panel from the early 1600s (Ming Dynasty) which I purchased for not a great deal of money compared to what it sold for. I had just started to deal seriously and that was quite a bit of my money on what was a good gamble.
Top Tip for new collectors?
Buy with your heart. Only buy what you really like not what someone tells you, you should like. Antique collecting is addictive just like gambling is. The difference is that if you are careful, and buy the best that you can afford, unlike real gambling you will put together a collection with real value that can be realised. Keep in mind though that not everything goes up at the same rate so you must enjoy the collecting and the collection. Buy from someone who is a member of a recognised trade organisation, as to be a member they have been vetted for their knowledge and their character.
Why do you choose to exhibit at fairs?
I chose to exhibit at AFE because of the throughput of people. At an average antique fair 5% of the people through the door may collect Ceramics, and of that if I am lucky 0.5% may collect Oriental Antiques. But unlike many other antique fairs the pieces for sale at The NEC have been scrupulously vetted for condition and authenticity. The vetting process makes it a level playing field for dealers and a place where collectors can buy with confidence.
For more information on Catherine Hunt Oriental Antiques click here.