Describe your stock and/or specialities? We are auctioneers, specialising in rare books, manuscripts and works on paper.
What or who brought you to this world? My mother’s godfather was Adrian McLaughlin, a member of the Roxburgh Club, who had a fabulous library of mostly 17th-19th century French and Italian books in armorial bindings. I visited his house in Barnes, West London on numerous occasions and the book bug probably infected me by osmosis. Sadly, he died just before I entered the book world and his library was sold by Sotheby’s in Monte Carlo in 1980.
When are you at your happiest? Personally, with my family, professionally, on the rostrum.
What is the strangest question you have ever been asked? This is right up there…
What is your most treasured possession? My dog, Delilah
If you could invite anyone, current or historical, who would attend your dream dinner party? John Lennon, Hannibal, Dr. Brian Cox and Marilyn Monroe.
What is the most amazing item you have owned/sold and why? A previously unrecorded copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, very defective but still a six-figure book (sold, not owned!)
What is your favourite piece of music? Very difficult to narrow it down to one piece – either Grieg’s Piano concerto or Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer.
What trait do you most deplore in others? Inhumanity.
Alternative career? Sport commentator or journalist; archaeologist.
What is your secret vice? Jelly Babies (not that secret to those who know me)
What would you like your epitaph to say? “He auctioned, lots”.
One secret for success? Build long-term relationships.
Do you collect yourself? If yes, what and why? WW1 privately printed memoirs of men killed. Interest started when my parents lived in Belgium and, as a young teenager, I tramped the battlefields of Flanders.
Your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? ESTC.
Milne, A.A. When We Were Very Young, 1st ed., 1924. An exceptionally fine copy in dust-jacket.
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1st ed., 2nd printing, 1902. With A.L.s mentioning “the rabbit book” dated February 7th, 1902.