Paul Hamilton is a regular stallholder at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair, and has been buying & selling antiques since the early 70's - previously specialising in Scientific and Marine - his trade now encompasses a vast range.
How long have you been involved with the antiques trade?
I started full time dealing in April 1972 from Bermondsey & Portobello Rd. - so 46 years.
How did you get started in the business?
My father dabbled in antiques, and I started to take an interest in old telescopes & scientific instruments after he brought home an amazing magic lantern. I was also keen on astronomy.
What Antiques Fairs do you regularly attend?
After several years exhibiting - mainly at fairs where overseas buyers are present - I've whittled it down to mainly Lincoln Home Show & Newark 2-day fair. I also sell on eBay and I have space in a shop in Norfolk.
What is the area/era of collecting and dealing you are most interested in?
Mainly scientific, nautical, medical, technical, metalware, luggage & all sorts really!
Do you restore some antique items yourself?
A lot of my time is spent restoring the items I buy.
Do you have regular clients?
Most of my buyers are from the USA, Far East, Italy and some London dealers who probably sell to those people too!
What sort of things might the beginner be able to keep an eye out for?
I'm constantly amazed at the changing trends and I'm at a bit of a loss to know which is going to be the next fad! I sometimes see retro pieces with prices that amaze me, and who would have thought that sixties to eighties teak furniture would come back into fashion!
To me, the earlier and rarer the better, but, if these type of items turn up at auction, it's very hard to buy them and try to make a profit, because you’re bidding against the internet.
Are there any books, periodicals, museums or websites that you can recommend to those interested in finding out a bit more?
Apart from the numerous publications & information on the internet. I believe you have to have an interest in history and I visited as many country houses, museums & galleries as possible when I was younger to get the feel of antiques close up!
When I first started, there were virtually no antique fairs and no boot fairs to go to - so I gathered my stock by driving to villages, towns and the London markets. There was an abundance of antique shops back then. You learnt by getting a personal feel and handling the item on offer. It's harder now because there is so much repro to plough through, and it often fools the beginner and casual collector. Anyone beginning really must have a feel and dedication to pursue their dream. Miller's used to be the dealer’s bible, but is now virtually unmentioned since so many items have plummeted in price.
These days I guess following online auctions and saleroom prices; looking on dealers websites like loveantiques.com, antiquesatlas and sites like Instagram etc. are more likely to give you learned descriptions.
What is the one item you dream about finding?
There are many items I dream of finding while wandering around fairs, markets & shops.
I guess one of the rarest, fun items I dream of finding (that wasn't recognised by the seller) would be an 18th Century 'Cometarium?' I saw a model of one on a wooden base with a handle on the side where the moving ivory ball - with bristles to one side - makes an elliptical orbit around the sun. A rather sophisticated one sold at Bonhams fairly recently for around 40k. I couldn't afford it but I’m still dreaming.
How can people contact you/find you if they want to see your stock?
I’m usually in the George Stevenson building at the Newark Antiques & Collectors Fair. My stall is situated near the large shutter doors, so that’s usually a good place to find me. I'm a bit behind the times regarding setting up a website is concerned.
I have a comprehensive display at a shop in Norfolk, shared with two long-established friends - the link to this is on my Instagram site antique science maritime - a search for antiquescience will almost certainly find it.
Find Paul near the large shutter door at Newark Antiques & Collectors Fair on Thurs 11th - Friday 12th October.
You can also see his stock at Courtyard Antiques, 4 Fairland Court, Hingham, Norfolk, NR9 4HN