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Reyne Haines

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Celebrity Collector: Curtis Dowling

Posted: 01/06/12 03:27 PM ET

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(Georgian desk -- A gift from Beau Brummel to Lady Fitz Percy of Suffolk)

There has always been the question: "If you work in the antiques business, can you actually be a collector too?" Some say no, some say yes. My personal belief is this: How can I get you excited about collecting something if I have no interest in it myself?

Apparently, colleague and TV personality, Curtis Dowling believes that you can be an antiques expert AND have your cake too!

Dowling has been the host of such popular British collecting shows as, Cash in the Celebrity Attic, Hidden Paintings, and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

We recently caught up with him to learn more about his upcoming American collecting show, and his passion for antiques...

RH: Glad to see another collecting expert is also a collecting enthusiast! When did you become interested in collecting?

CD: In 1990 I was given, yes given, my first piece of Rene Lalique on the set of the BBC TV series, Lovejoy. We had been filming an episode called "The Black Virgin of Vladimir" and the show portrayed American actress Linda Gray's character as a collector. We found a few nice items in Camden, London and bought them. After the shoot, several of us were given some of the props. It is still my favorite thing! It is a "Coquille" pattern bowl. Currently, I have 20 pieces of Rene Lalique and they give me more pleasure than a library of DVD's ever could!

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(Rene Lalique bowl -- a gift from Lovejoy)

RH: I heard you also collect Georgian silver. Lalique and Georgian silver are two very different time periods and styles. What an interesting combination! Tell me more about your eclectic taste.

CD:
My love of antiques comes from the beauty they radiate and nothing radiates love and warmth more than my Paul De Lamerie silver candlesticks from the 1730s. Not only in my mind the best silver maker ever, but also the thought of how many lives those fabulous candlesticks have touched in their nearly 300 year history. As I light the beeswax candles, it throws light over a room and takes me back in time!

RH: Did you know Elton John is a big collector of Lalique Glass? Have you seen his collection?

CD: I knew he was, but I have never met him or seen his collection. I think it's a name that attracts even non-antiques lovers. In fact, the only antique the real Lovejoy film star Ian McShane likes is Lalique.

RH: Maybe Elton John will read this and invite you over! Do you remember the first piece in your collection you acquired and the circumstances around how you got it?

CD: I do like it was yesterday. It was 1985 and I was at a boot fair (yard sale) and picked up a silver specimen vase. The woman selling it said "It's not silver dear, there is no hallmark." But I felt it was something special. It cost me 1 pound. It was Indian, 400 years old, silver, and I sold it for 600 pounds.

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(Silver Candlesticks)

RH: Great story! Apparently you were hooked! How do you feel about restored pieces? Often, American collectors turn up their nose to restoration. Would you add them to your collection?

CD: Restoration is fine. In my 25 years I have only seen a small number of items that haven't been restored over the years. If we think things are all original, we are kidding ourselves. Antiques live a life and age is part of their rich tapestry.

RH: Well said! Last question: Any chance of you branching out into other collectibles?

CD: As someone who works all day with antiques, I try not to get too attached but cannot help myself. I am never sure what's around the corner!

Thanks Curtis! We look forward to hearing more about your upcoming show!
Curtis Dowling: http://www.curtisantiques.co.uk/

 

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