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BBC ANTIQUES SPECIALIST TO SHARE SECRETS OF DEALING
A renowned antiques dealer, also known for his current stint as a specialist on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, is creating a series of events to help make the antiques trade more accessible to novices.
Lennox Cato, a business owner since the age of 16, runs Lennox Cato Antiques in Edenbridge with his wife Susan, where they specialise in fine Georgian and Regency period furniture and decorative items.
Mr Cato will be offering his expertise and sharing secrets of dealing with customers at his firm’s annual Christmas Open Weekend.
He stated at a previous open evening at his shop, that he likes people to feel comfortable when they walk into his gallery: “Antiques shops can be slightly intimidating but we like to break that rule. Susan and I want people to come in, talk to us and ask questions; we want them to enjoy looking around and we don’t lean over their shoulders.”
He also gave a great tip for guiding buying decisions: “When buying or collecting make sure you buy good things because their value can only get better – buy the best you can afford because items in their original condition will always bring a higher price."
Mr Cato has had a long fascination with the antiques world, having opened his first shop in Brighton in 1978. He then went on to create Coombe House Antiques in Lewes, East Sussex, with his wife Susan, before moving to Kent in 1997 and opening Lennox Cato Antiques in The Square, Edenbridge.
“In 2007, we also acquired the adjoining shop and set up The Edenbridge Galleries, a specialist collective of antiques dealers," Mr Cato explains. "“Here we invite upmarket dealers to display their goods in the gallery; they all have great knowledge and we have specialists in everything from rugs and ceramics to furniture and Tunbridge Ware.”
He went on to talk about how the role of the antiques dealer has changed over the last 10 years; "Years ago, a dealer’s strength was their knowledge, to look at an item and perhaps not buy, keeping the reason why to themselves... Nowadays people will ask ‘Why have you walked away?’ and we tell them."
“At my gallery, Susan and I will tell customers everything about the piece they are interested in so they can buy with confidence."
At an open evening at the shop, Julie Webb, private clients director at Lark Insurance, said: “We have all learned so much from Lennox and it was a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new acquaintances. We must do it again!”
Nick Brooker, branch manager of Handelsbanken in Sevenoaks, said: “Lennox has a wonderful gallery and we were delighted our customers enjoyed a relaxed evening in these lovely surroundings.”