Stanley Gibbons

What has happened to Stanley Gibbons?  This world famous company is now practically valueless.  When as a child I became a stamp collector and later an expert at a prestigious auction house in Bond Street, the Gibbons catalogue was the bible for collectors.  Now all there is, is a weekly investment advice offering unregulated investments in stamps, coins and collectables owned by the failing group.

I am an art dealer and know that the pieces I sell can be re-offered in auction for a return, but Gibbons’ clients are holding onto vast collections with no easy way of regaining their money.  It is a sad state of affairs that these old companies are drained of their finances by their directors who are still offering investment advice.

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Hospital

Today was my regular monthly Monday at Charing Cross.  Had my usual blood test, (sadly still very squeamish – kept jumper over face) and then the standard meeting with a member of the “oncology” team.  I rarely get to see the head honcho (not a bad thing, since he is Mr Pessimistic Doom and Gloom); I am usually assigned to one of his minions who have the “why are we bothering treating this old person” face on.

But not today.   Today a young smiley doctor led us into his room and was utterly charming.  He listened to us and our thoughts and made useful positive comments.  What a change !  That made my day so much better as did my good blood test results.  In fact, so pleased was I that the wife and I celebrated with a full ketogenic breakfast in the hospital canteen.  Then – like many men my age, I headed off to urology where those tests were equally satisfactory.  No doctors succeeding in booking me in for a procedure on my ageing prostate –  delaying their desire for me to become incontinent, need a full time catheter and be unable to ever enjoy an erection again.

Obviously, with that news, we had to go back to the canteen to try out their lunch menu.

As for business, I received tons of interested emails about pieces in the shop as well as some emails from old customers  (who knew nothing about my problems).

All in all a good day.

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Life

With my illness people keep asking me if I have headaches or have lost my appetite or feel depressed . . .  Actually Life is great now..
If I look back to my childhood, I had a mother who never stopped talking drivel and would knit me the most awful nylon jumpers in garish colours to go to school in.  It was no wonder I felt a complete failure and was regularly bullied.  Fast forward through  two marriages to bi-polar women, so I should really be thoroughly depressed.

But,  having two wonderful daughters from those first two failed marriages and a fabulous third wife (and three more children who are my pride and joy) how can I be depressed when I have so much in my life that is wonderful ?

AND, what’s more I am now allowed to eat special low-carb bread, which Alix bakes daily and is utterly delicious!

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Raduga Childrens’Books1926-1928

In1923 Maxim Gorky decided that Childrens literature should reflect the Communist ideology.
The talented new Artists and writers of the new era jumped at the chance to influence and grow young minds.A selection of these books is at the Institute of Social Historyand we have a collection of ten exquisite watercolour designs for book covers originallysold at Sothebys in 1985 (please ask for images)

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Iconastas History

What a wonderful life as an antique dealer I have had.  From beginning in the 1960’s on a small table under stairs in Portobello market selling coins and stamps, onto the most famous junk shop in London – near Olympia on the North End Road.  I sold everything including the finest vintage handbags, jewellery and clothes, pictures (with an appaently undiscovered Rembrandt) and a Van Gogh etching, ending up in the early 80’s in the murky world of dealing with African diplomats who used to smuggle Icons in their luggage from Russia.

From there I went into the world of Faberge treasures, collected from all the auction rooms in Europe and the USA, fighting the Mayfair dealers for the best objects and then latterly back to my love of Icons with the wonderful, heady smell of incense, ancient oils and wood as a suitcase is opened.
Collecting was now in my blood, storerooms bulged with undiscovered paintings and objects, which now my wife and children will inherit and hopefully take the business into a new era.
It has been a fabulous roller coaster of life and inspiration with culture and art – my advice to all is to visit museums and auction rooms and learn to love your heritage;  discoveries are still made every day.

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Zakheim

People always ask me why I am interested in Russian Art.  My father’s family were born in Russia in 1868 and applied for Naturalization to a British subject in which was granted in 1912. My grandfather arrived with six children, and was described as a salmon curer and merchant living in the Mile End Road.   The family tree (recorded in two volumes) goes back to 1659 and there are now Zakheims with multiple spellings living all over the world.   I am the only one in the Russian Art business with items from the period of the family’s beginnings.

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2016

The worst year of my life, thank God, is over finally.   It all started with the Art London Fair opening on Brexit day – with not a person walking in.   Then a couple of weeks later, the doctors discovered a brain tumour and failed to act promptly, leaving me waiting three weeks for a failed operation.   The rest of 2016 was spent being treated with chemo and Radiotherapy – with all its ups and downs.
The negative response to the questions about my survival time varied from 2 months to 6 months – so not the happiest time for my family.
It is now 2017 and I am still here.   I would like to thank everyone for their kindness, their thoughts, their cards and even their treatments. The shop is buzzing along well with help from John and the fantastic Olya looking after all of our Russian clients so well.

Keep reading our newsletters !

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Ancient Russian Icons

A customer recently asked me how easy it was to find pre 15th century Russian Icons, I suggested the usual names in Europe and he came back to me with that  there was nothing, but lots of 16th to 19th century pieces. The only early pieces were Greek or late Byzantine, so I am wondering what has happened to ancient Icons. As auction season begins in late October and November it will be interesting to see what appears.

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War and Peace

The wonderful costumes for this series were copied from the collection in the Kremlin wonderfully drawn by Solsnev and printed in glowing colours in 1852 . We have the original lithographs from this publication for sale at the moment.IMG_3279

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