We catch up with antiques expert and author of the Millers Guides Judith Miller.
What is your favourite piece of furniture?
Reluctantly putting aside a George III mahogany chest-of-drawers, which I’ve had for almost 40 years, a George II walnut-framed, upholstered open-armchair with shepherd’s crook arms and a dining table and set of eight chairs designed by Hans Wegner in 1949, my current favourite favourite is the Wingback chair by Tom Dixon. It is a modern take on 17th-century wingbacks and is wonderfully comfortable to sit in.
Which antique/collectable do you covet?
Two of the glass birds designed in the early 1960s by Alessandro Pianon for Vistosi, in Italy.
Pianon designed five in all and I am fortunate enough to have three of them, but I would love the other two.
Which antiques and collectables are most popular at the moment?
Without doubt mid-century modern and post-modern design. They have wide appeal and fit in to a more modern minimalistic style but they have risen substantially in price. So it may be watch this space.
What the most thrilling item you have seen on the Antiques Roadshow?
A man came to the Roadshow with a great story and a great find. When he was 11 in the 1970s he’d gone with his mother to a house sale and was extremely bored until he found over a hundred posters in a brown paper bag. They were of trains, planes and liners – classic Art Deco. He asked if they could buy them but they were part of a job lot of an artist’s studio and his mother said “no”. At the auction a lady bought the lot for £13.
The young boy offered her 50p for the posters and she accepted. He brought in four by the French artist Jean Dupas and I valued them at £10,000 each.
Is there anything you think may have a renaissance?
Brown furniture is still undervalued as is Victoriana in general. Working on the next Antiques Price Guide I’m noticing that objects such as Toby jugs and pot lids, which you couldn’t give away last year, are beginning to increase in value.
What and where is your ideal home?
Well, I’m very happy living where I am, but a huge lottery win would probably also result in a C17th-C18th manoir in the Dordogne, a small apartment in Manhattan and, on the insistence of my husband, we would have to have a modern townhouse in St Andrews, for the golf.
Who would you most like to invite to dinner?
Bruce Springsteen: because he has written so many wonderful songs. Bruce and the E Street Band on tour are, quite simply, the greatest show on earth; and because we have travelled all over the world to see him in concert, so it’s about time he came to my place.
I would also invite Wendell Castle, the American designer who sadly died, aged 85, earlier this year. He is my favourite furniture designer of the last 50 years. Then, if historic figures are allowed, there’s also Catherine the Great: I read a fantastic biography of her recently, by Henri Troyat, but I really would like the inside track on how a little German princess without a drop of Russian blood in her came to embody 18th century Russia and become the most powerful woman on the planet.