TV Antiques expert Adam Partridge on why he loves golden oldies
PUBLISHED: 15:51 19 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:51 19 April 2013
Television personality and Cheshire antiques expert Adam Partridge tells Cheshire Life why he abandoned an academic life for a life among dusty old bits and pieces
He’s one of Britain’s best known antiques experts thanks to appearances on TV shows including Flog It!, Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt, but auctioneer and valuer Adam Partridge still gets a kick from helping ordinary folk identify the potentially life-changing value of long forgotten possessions in their homes.
When he’s not busy running one of the North West’s leading auction houses, the Adam Partridge Auctioneers and Valuers in Macclesfield, he might be found visiting the private home of a pensioner keen to know the true worth of an interesting item that’s taken pride of place in their living room for many decades.
‘I remember visiting one particular old lady who asked me to look at an object she had owned for many years. It was a Chinese libation cup made from carved rhinoceros horn. I told her it could be very valuable. She wrote to me a while later to tell me the cup had sold for £23,000 and added “Thank you for changing my life.”
‘It’s great to see ordinary people reaping the benefit from the discovery of a valuable item and I am delighted to be able to use my knowledge of antiques to help them, ‘ said 40-year-old Adam.
That encyclopedic knowledge has been building up since Adam made his first bid at an auction at the tender age of 10. The £12 bid was successful and Adam became the owner of a small painting of a mill scene.
‘I’ve still got that painting and it’s still worth only £12,’ he said during a break from the auction room where his eight-strong team of staff inspected antiques and dealt with inquiries from customers arriving for valuations.
‘But I’ve learned a great deal about antiques since I started accompanying my grandfather to auctions as a schoolboy. He used to buy and sell violins and travelled to a great many auctions. My photographic memory enabled me to store that mass of antique information that I was exposed to and it has stayed with me over the years.’
Adam’s passion for antiques was such that as soon as he reached the age of 17 he bought an old Austin van and started wheeling and dealing at sales and auctions across London and the South East where he was born and raised.
However, that brief spell of entrepreneurship came to an abrupt halt when at the age of 18, and to the delight of his professional musician parents, he was accepted as a classics student at Oxford University.
‘However, the problem was that my enthusiasm for antiques didn’t waver and I just carried on as normal. After about a year I realised academia wasn’t for me and left to become a porter at an auction room.’
Adam threw himself into his work spending hundreds of hours meticulously researching the provenance of the old and sometimes valuable objects that he came across in his work.
‘I was determined to become an antique dealer and I enjoyed everything about the business, the research, the valuations and the showmanship of the auction rooms,” he added.”Although I was working for others, I wanted to one day own my own auction and valuation house.’
Then Adam spotted a unique opportunity that would enable him to continue practice his auctioneering skills in the most glamorous surroundings.
‘An advert in the Antiques Trade Gazette was seeking qualified auctioneers to staff regular art and antique auctions on Caribbean cruises,” explained Adam. “I applied immediately – and got the job.”
Adam also met his wife-to-be Clare on one of the cruises and after a year at sea they decided to settle in Cheshire. Adam started work at a Knutsford auctioneers and valuers and he and Clare set up home in Congleton, where they still live with sons Ridley ,8, and five years old Felix.
“Television antique shows were becoming popular at this time and I managed to get our auction house onto ‘Cash In the Attic’, recalled Adam. “In fact I enjoyed it so much it was the start of a long list of TV appearances which increased my visibility.”
Adam’s TV exposure continued with ‘Bargain Hunt’ and ‘Flog It!’ and soon he was being spotted in the street by autograph hunters. Growing recognition of his antique expertise served to convince Adam that it was time to set up his own business – and in 2008 Adam Partridge Auctioneers and Valuers was born.
‘Our first sale in October that year raised more than £200,000 and business has been so good since then that we’ve also opened an auction room in Jamaica Street, Liverpool.’
For further information click onto www.adampartridge.co.uk