My best auction buy: David Harper12 April 2021 David Harper: antiques expert, TV presenter, and speaker
David Harper is a well-known antiques expert, recognisable from BBC TV shows such as Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip. This week he took the time to tell us the incredible story of his own favourite auction find – a stunning leather chair that went full circle before finding its way back to him. And now he could never sell it.
Tell us about your most loved auction piece
This leather crocodile embossed chair in the style of Holland & Sons.
What’s the story behind it?
In 2002, as part of my antiques business, I had a restoration workshop specialising in reupholstery and restoration of antique sofas and chairs (called Kingsley & Co...my middle name) and employed 14 upholsterers.
At the time I bought-to-restore a 19th century chair made by and stamped Holland & Sons. During its restoration, I loved the design so much that I decided to make and sell five copies of it.
I changed the seat a little, but the body of the chair was identical, and we used traditional fillings like horsehair, wadding and a mortise and tenon jointed beech frame with mahogany legs. It was an incredibly expensive exercise (the embossed leather cost a fortune!) and even though I sold all five of the reproductions, there really wasn’t much profit at the end of it...so, I didn’t make any more!
What happened then?
This chair (pictured) was one of the five I sold in 2002 (only two in the crocodile style leather).
I thought I’d never see any of them again, but while browsing thesaleroom.com in 2016, I spotted it listed at Lots Road Auctions in London. It had weathered very well and with a little bit of wear, looked even better than it did when new! It also still had its company ‘Kingsley & Co’ brass plaque attached to one of the back legs. Once I saw it, I knew I had to buy it back!
What a find! How much did it cost to buy it back?
It cost me including commission around £1100, which was a bit of a bargain, bearing in mind, from memory, all those years ago I sold this very chair for about £2500 and barely made a profit!
When he’s not buying and selling antiques, David hosts his own YouTube antiques channel, giving viewers buying and selling tips, and insights into the inner workings of the antiques business.
While we can’t guarantee you’ll find one of David’s chairs at auction, you can view the latest listings for leather armchairs on thesaleroom.com.