Antiques: Fifty years, for a man and boy with a gavel and an eyeglass

Retirement – the word conjures up slippers on carpets, dogs by fires, long walks and picnics by the river. Or perhaps, mastering the guitar, finally getting fit, travelling the world, a new life of dealing, writing a book.
Michael Dowse with Director Elizabeth Dashper-JohnsonMichael Dowse with Director Elizabeth Dashper-Johnson
Michael Dowse with Director Elizabeth Dashper-Johnson

Fifty years, man and boy with a gavel and an eyeglass and now 2023 brings retirement and my last article.

As soon as I took my first step as a podgy (hard to believe I know) infant my father whisked me off to the saleroom to help him lift furniture. From that moment on I knew I had to leave home. I never managed it and the rest is history.

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All my weekends and school holidays were saleroom days, work was life in those days and I loved it. Somehow I never managed to get the same enthusiasm, for all things saleroom related, from any of my own four children, or nine grandchildren. At the age of 17 years and two months, I passed my driving test and had my first session on the rostrum. The world was my oyster.

Before joining the family firm on a permanent basis, I pursued a number of opportunities in various locations, including the silver department at Christie’s and the Bowes Museum, but by far the best was Boulton and Cooper Fine Art Auctioneers in Malton, North Yorkshire. What a fabulous time that was, North Yorkshire, a new wife and a new dog. The new wife, by a short head, being the most exciting.

Over the years, as I have travelled the countryside with my eyeglass I have been bitten by dogs, scratched by cats, hugged by grannies, laughed at, cried with, set alarms off, entered wrong houses, over valued, under valued, done outside broadcasts for the BBC, done inside broadcasts for the BBC, spoken after dinners, spoken before dinners, made people laugh and sent people to sleep and I have loved every single second of it.

Of the highlights, selling the Gerome painting, which we found in a downstairs toilet, for £160,000 rates fairly high. The lowest low was, without doubt, the desperately sad death of our great friend and wonderful colleague Stephen Flintoft, who was loved by every single client he ever dealt with.

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Of course, of great importance to note is that things continue as ever with valuations at the Auction Gallery, where Alison Gillatt takes over the reins and is a very experienced member of our senior Valuations team.

Writing this weekly missive over the years has been a joy and I will miss it. To all who have ever read any, or to those who read this for the first and last time, may I say thank you and wish you all a very very happy and healthy 2023.