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Judith Miller, BBC Antiques Roadshow Specialist
  1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and what drives your passion for the industry?

    I am unusual as a specialist on the Antiques Roadshow as I didn’t grow up with antiques. My parents were part of what we affectionately call the 'formica generation’, in that not only did they get rid of all my grandparent’s things but they paid people to take them away! My love of antiques grew out of my passion for history. In the 1960s I spent my weekends going to junk shops and buying inexpensive treasures and then researching them. I have always said if these objects could talk they would give us a fascinating insight into who made them, who used them and what the period was really like. I then started going to local auctions and I was hooked. All collectors are addicts – in the nicest possible way. To this day I find when I attend an auction, when my lot is coming up, I find my heart beats faster, my palms sweat and I glare at anyone bidding against me! When I leave to go to an antiques fair my husband always says “Repeat after me we do not need one more single chair”. But the joy of coming to a Fair is that you never know what you will find and the enthusiasm (and expense!) never diminishes.

  2. What area(s) of art and antiques do you specialise in?

    Having produced general Antiques and Collectables books for nearly 40 years – I’m a generalist. On the Antiques Roadshow I move between the Miscellaneous and Ceramics tables. Although I collect treen, Arts & Crafts and costume jewellery, my real passions are 18thC ceramics and 20thC glass.

  3. What has been your most memorable discovery?

    Asking me which objects in my collections I like best is like asking me which of my children I prefer. It is the things I didn’t buy that still rankle! Every time I buy something and take it home, I get enormous pleasure finding a place for it and enjoy looking at it. A couple of years ago at Antiques for Everyone I bought an 18thC Worcester porcelain saucer with the very common ’Fence’ pattern decoration. Not that exciting. However the crescent mark on the back was the legendary ‘man in the moon’ mark that is extremely rare. It is now displayed with the mark showing!  On the Antiques Roadshow some of the best things I’ve found are objects with a great history/family story. It’s not necessarily only about the money. However a few years ago a gentleman came in with four Art Deco London Transport posters by the artist Jean Dupas. He had as a young lad in the 70s found over 100 Art Deco posters in an artist’s room at a house sale. He bought them for 50p. I valued the four at £40,000. And recently I valued a large collection of Georgian men’s shoe buckles, including some extremely rare creamware examples, at £200,000.

  4. BBC Antiques Roadshow has been reported to having significantly higher viewing figures than TV shows like Top Gear – why do you think there has been such a surge in nationwide interest in antiques?

    I think the Antiques Roadshow has been an institution on a Sunday evening for 40 years. It has always had very high viewer figures for a factual/lifestyle show. I believe we had higher viewer figures than Poldark recently! What is important on the Roadshow is that the object is the star. I think it is an excellent mix of historical information, family history, and of course the all-important valuation and the owner’s reaction. Even after 40 years we continue to be surprised by the objects the British public bring to the shows. 

  5. What top tips do you have for buying art and antiques in the current market, for both the seasoned and the new collector?

    There has never been a better time to buy. Prices are realistic and there is such choice. Do some research and find an area you love, whether it is furniture, silver, ceramics, glass or Art Deco. It is so much easier to learn if you have a passion. And my advice is always if you do see something you love and can nearly afford it - buy it – you will only regret it if you don’t.

  6. What advice do you have for making the most out of an art and antiques fair such as Antiques for Everyone?

    It has to be to talk to the dealers. You have at the NEC a fantastic gathering of some of the most knowledgeable antiques specialists in the country and they want to help you feel confident in deciding on a purchase. We all started somewhere and it is a fascinating journey.

  7. What sets Antiques for Everyone apart from other fairs?

    The fact that you can feel confident that the fair has been vetted by some of the countries greatest experts, so you know the description of the item is correct. Also there is such a wide variety of antiques and collectables at all different price points – from an inexpensive piece of 1960s Scandinavian pottery to an early 18thC silver tea urn to a 19thC sampler, from precious gems to costume jewellery. All the periods are covered from Georgian, Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid Century Modern to Contemporary. Come to the Fair and be dazzled by the diversity!