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Written by HertfordshireLife, Friday, July 1, 2011

Antiques are the ideal way to add a special touch to your home's interior style
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Intelligent people, people with an eye for a long term investment who appreciate real quality and craftsmanship, are buying antiques again, says Tony Bush.

Okay, so hes an antiques dealer with probably the largest stock in Hertfordshire filling more than 25,000ft of farm buildings in a former indoor equestrian centre so you might expect him to say that.
However his view is backed up by a survey published last December by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The report stated: Anecdotal evidence from survey respondents suggests that record low interest rates are pushing those with savings into alternative asset classes such as the arts and antiques market.
As further evidence of a revival, a spokesman for Bonhams said last summer the auction house was having a phenomenal year with strength across the market. Recent aristocratic sales had shown that investors were willing to pay large sums for museum quality items as a way of holding wealth against tax rises and inflation.

Although the greatest demand currently is for silver and jewellery and Chinese art and ceramics, Tony Bush believes the recent Cinderella of the antiques trade whats known as brown furniture (solid wood tables, chairs, wardrobes, dressers, anything from a bygone age hand-built to last) is beginning to be recognised once more as timeless treasure that can more than hold its own beside mass produced on-trend furniture that like as not will be here today and dumped at the council tip tomorrow.
Tony should know what hes talking about. Hes been in the antiques business 42 years, having grown up in north London. As he points out, he was an early learner.

Ive been buying and selling since I was six or seven years old. No one else in my family knew anything about antiques. For me, it was a way of making money because I didnt have any. I bought bits of pottery, brass and copper at jumble sales and sold them on to dealers. My main interest was arms and armoury but I couldnt find much of a market for that.

I left school at 14 with very little education and joined a legal practice in W1 as a junior.

Even though he was going to night classes after work to study English and Law, he still kept up with his contacts in the antiques trade, buying and selling in his lunch-hour at the local antiques centres.
Eventually, after four-and-a-half years, he decided life stuck behind a desk wasnt for him so quit his job and went back to his first love.
With 200 capital and a van which cost him sixty quid, he set himself up as an antiques dealer.

At first I traded out of my mothers garden shed in Edgware, he remembers. I had all sorts of premises in the early years, I rented a garage at one stage, I had a store behind the barbers shop in Edgware, I rented a warehouse in Kings Road, Chelsea.

My first showroom was in a former Victorian art college in Victoria Street, St Albans. I stayed there seven or eight years dealing exclusively with trade customers and then moved to Upper Street, Islington.
Over the next 22 years Bushwood Antiques became one of the best known wholesalers in the UK. Much of the business was generated by the huge demand for English antiques overseas.

I was working eight days a week, loading and unloading lorries, travelling all over the world I didnt have time for a social life. In the end I thought this is crazy and that's what brought me out here. I came out here because I wanted a change of lifestyle, time to build up a social life.

Here is a Georgian stable yard Georgian sets the tone perfectly at Stags End Equestrian Centre in Gaddesden Lane, a quiet rural spot with far ranging views over rolling countryside near Gaddesden Row a few miles from Redbourn.

The move from London with 2m worth of stock worked well at first.
Tony had more time for leisure and the demand for Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian furniture and artefacts from some of the great houses of England made Bushwood Antiques the first port of call for interior designers and decorators the world over.

But then came a series of blows, beginning with 9/11 followed by the banking crisis, which for a while all but wiped out the export market, particularly to the States.

Many of the larger dealers in London went to the wall. Tony in Hertfordshire was one of the survivors chiefly because he reduced his staff, didnt have the overheads of his counterparts in London and for the first time opened his showrooms and warehouses at Stags End to the public as well as trade.

Private buyers and browsers now have a choice of something like 8,500 antiques of all shapes and sizes in one spot plus a team of skilled craftsmen based in workshops housed in the old stables who can restore and adapt whatever a customer fancies to their own requirements. One of his restorers has worked for him for 30 years.

Despite the large dent in the overseas market, Bushwood Antiques still ships out containers full of beautiful pieces of English furniture to add lustre to homes of the wealthy abroad.

Tonys trade customers in the UK include embassies, department stores and hotels. Hes helped to furnish the homes of the rich and famous since his days in St Albans and Islington and still does pop stars, musicians, celebsyou never know who you might bump into in a distant corner of Tonys emporium.

Much of the stuff comes in from private sellers who send an email with photos in jpeg form showing what they want to sell. I can value almost anything from a photograph. I buy whole estates if Im offered them. I try to avoid auction houses the buyers premium and other costs can work out to as much as 27 per cent. You buy something at the hammer price and then you can pay as much as 27 per cent above that.
Tony claims his own prices are a fraction of London prices. I buy for 10 and sell for 12.

The thing is, we deliberately leave things unrestored. We do a bespoke service in restoration and give an after sales service. If a customer cant decide between four or five tables or chairs or wardrobes well deliver up to five and take them into the house and they can choose which one fits best. Having said that, he gets pretty cross if it turns out to be a time waster. It does happen.

Pretty well anything anyone asks for we will have here and we can polish the wood to a colour that will blend with their other furniture in the room.
I recently sold a beautiful Regency library table for nearly 4,000. It came in from an estate in Aberdeen. At the buyers request we cut down the legs to make it a coffee table. She loved the table but wanted it as a coffee table. They didnt make coffee tables in the Regency era.

His stock includes more than 1,000 chairs alone. Everything has a history. He once had a hand-carved double bed modeled on a Venetian gondola that had served time in an Italian brothel. On the day we visited one of the recent arrivals was a Victorian dappled grey rocking horse, obviously well loved but now grown out of and needing a wash and brush up. In its present state Tony reckoned it would gallop out for about 450.

Other out-of-the-ordinary items included a 19th century weighing machine that looked a bit dingy but will polish up well to stand in a weight-conscious owners bathroom today. There were several model ships in various states of repair, a games compendium in a fine box fitted with dominoes, roulette and chess pieces 650 for that and on the wall in the largest warehouse, probably previously the indoor riding school two matching tapestries about ten foot wide by six ft deep depicting Shakespearean-type characters wining and dining. The wall hangings came out of a baronial hall.

Tony himself lives on site in two former workmens cottages which he has transformed into the largest one bedroom house in Hertfordshire.
The entrance to his bachelor quarters leads into an oak panelled salon with central polished wood staircase leading up to a galleried sitting room with vaulted beamed ceiling. Off that is his bedroom with half tester double bed and padded walls covered in a French navy fabric. I got the idea of padded walls from hotels I stayed in when I was buying in Paris. The bedhead was the back of a sideboard I sold.

The most expensive room, he says, is his marble bathroom. The cream coloured matching marble covering the walls and floor came out of an office block in London. It all had to be cut to size and polished.
Downstairs, beyond the salon, is a large games room with full size billiard table and a purpose-built conservatory built around the elegant white painted arched windows reminiscent of those in the Brighton Pavilion. The windows were salvaged from an office block in Londons Russell Square.
Tony says the furnishing of his home and the conversion was a labour of love and Im still in love.

He hasnt changed the furniture since he moved in. It fits, is his simple explanation. I dont get tempted when something new comes in because theres no more space.

He emphasises, What the English need when theyre buying antiques and creating a beautiful home is imagination. With imagination you can visualise how to mix old and new and create a modern home. Brown furniture neednt be boring. Think what it would cost if you tried to reproduce like for like today a fortune.

A customer recently rang and said shed seen a new piece in a showroom for 1,500, I had the same thing here, unrestored, for 900. Dont forget new wood can crack in central heating. Old wood has stood the test of time for a couple of hundred years, it wont move. It has a resale value. More than you can say for flat pack.

And with that parting shot he ambles off to get back to the business of answering phone calls.

Bushwood Antiques website www.bushwood.co.uk includes an alphabetical list of technical terms and a comprehensive guide to the changing styles of furniture throughout the ages and what to look for.

Written by vvmag

Tucked away in the Hertfordshire countryside between the village of Redbourn and the town of Hemel Hempstead, on what was once a small country estate, you will discover one of the largest collections of antique furniture for sale in the country.
Bushwood Antiques was originally based in London, moving to Stags End 18 years, where, displayed in two showrooms and a warehouse, are more than 8,000 items of antique furniture and accessories. Th e choice ranges from small occasional tables to large Georgian dining tables that can extend to seat 14 or more, as well as pedestal desks, bureaux, bookcases, sideboards and chairs galore. Choice About 18 months ago Bushwood Antiques was featured on a BBC Two programme called Cracking Antiques. The series featured a couple who needed advice on furnishing a home with antiques. The couple were fi lmed buying various items of furniture from us. Following the BBC programme we were inundated with customers who couldn’t believe the choice we offer.

Bespoke

Most of the furniture is displayed in the condition in which it has arrived here and then restored when it is sold. Working this way, you can be involved in how your purchases are restored and if necessary items can be bespoke to you.

 

Special Antique
For example, dining tables and desks can be made taller to give more leg room without it being noticeable or, if the leather on a desk needs to be replaced, you can choose the colour. Of course some items will be in lovely condition and will only need a check over and wax. We do not accept outside restoration, as the restoration workshop is constantly busy working on furniture that has already been sold. So if you are looking to buy that special antique item or to furnish a whole house
with antiques, do come and visit us, but be prepared to be amazed by
the choice on offer... 

“Most items are displayed in the condition they arrived in, and only
restored when sold, so you can be involved in the restoring and items
can be bespoke”

Written by Zoe Forsey, St Albans Review

The BBC visited Redbourn yesterday (Thursday) to film the second series of an antique auction show.

Celebrities Stephanie Powers and Don Warrington were at Bushwood Antiques in Gaddesden Lane to hunt out items for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

The 20 episode series, which is produced by STV Productions, follows celebrities as they search for antiques to sell on for profit with the help of an industry expert.

Julie Collins, sales manager at the store, said: “It was absolutely brilliant.


“It couldn’t have gone any better.

“It was really interesting to watch the filming.”

During their visit to the store both celebrities brought items.

Stephanie Powers purchased a Victorian writing slope while Don Warrington found a top hat in its original box.

Ms Collins added: “They were both really lovely people – they were really friendly.

“Stephanie loved the surrounding. She said she might come back and visit on her own.”

In total 20 celebrity pairs will search for antiques across the UK.

Liam Keelan, controller of daytime and early peak shows at the BBC, said: "I'm delighted the audience has taken Celebrity Antiques Road Trip to its heart and made it a great success in the BBC 2 schedule.

June - 2012

Published on Hemel Today,

Bushwood Antiques welcomed celebrity auctioneer Tim Wonnacott to its Gaddesden Lane base in September.

The visit was aired on BBC1 on Thursday and Friday (October 30 and 31) as part of popular daytime show Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Mr Wonnacott was challenged to purchase items worth hundreds of pounds and make a profit by selling them on to Bushwood Antiques.

Sales manager Julie Collins said: "Tim was pitted against another dealer and they had to see who could make the most profit on their items.

"That money is then given to charity.

"He won the challenge with a Victorian white marble clock which he made around 150 profit on.

"It was very nice to have him here."

Bushwood's managing director, Tony Bush, launched the business 35 years ago and the store currently has more than 8,500 pieces of English and Continental furniture in stock

He said: "Any visit from Tim and a chance to promote my antiques warehouse on TV can only be very good for business."

2008

Written by Debbie White, HertsAd

HOLLYWOOD star Stefanie Powers went head-to-head with British actor Don Warrington in Redbourn recently.

But the American actress still had time for a heart-to-heart with locals – of the two and four-legged variety.

Stefanie, who has shared the screen with the likes of legends John Wayne, Lana Turner and David Niven, was in the village last Thursday, June 28, to film Celebrity Antiques Road Trip for the BBC.

In it she teams up with auctioneer and antiques expert Charles Hanson to scour the history-heaving rooms of Bushwood Antiques, Gaddesden Lane, to find the perfect object to trounce opponents Margie Cooper and Don.

Stefanie is also famous for her role as Jennifer Hart in 1980s television series Hart to Hart with Robert Wagner.

More recently, British viewers saw her in last year’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! where she was the first to be eliminated but won admirers with her no-nonsense attitude.

With the scene set in a rural part of Redbourn for the BBC show, Stefanie arrived in pure Hollywood style, sweeping into the yards of the Georgian stableyard in a 1950s Morgan.

A renowned animal lover, the first question polo-playing Stefanie asked the film crew and waiting manager director Tony Bush was, “where are the horses?”

According to her website Stefanie leads a double life where, when not in front of a camera or on stage, she is involved in the preservation of animals including the jaguar.

Once she had patted the horses, the energetic star raced back to the film crew.

But before the two teams had time to enter showrooms boasting thousands of items from the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian periods, eagle-eyed Stefanie next spotted Rufus, a Lakeland Terrier.

Five minutes of cooing and patting later, both teams finally started selecting and haggling over the perfect piece.

Don and Margie quickly found a walnut Victorian writing slope for sale at £140.

Giving sales manager Julie Collins his scary “Don stare” helped the duo scoop the item for just £115.

Margie told Julie: “The last thing I want to do is to beat you into the ground… but I do really!”

Meanwhile, elsewhere Stefanie was not missing a trick. In between looking at various objects she informed Charles his shoelace was untied and a visiting work experience student that she was in the way of the shot.

She quizzed Tony on the precise location of the home of late film director Stanley Kubrick, who lived in Childwickbury.

Out of earshot Charles said Stefanie drives the Morgan, “like there is no tomorrow”.

“She is so feisty, so youthful. She is great. We are hoping to find a pot of gold here.”

There were, however, two members of the antique business who did not give a hoot about the presence of a woman with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Moggies “Tabby” and “Brick” slept soundly in cardboard boxes on the shelf of a bench in the work room, oblivious to the lights, cameras, action.

The show will help raise funds for BBC’s Children in Need appeal.

2012

The Lords Taverners

Hertfordshire Countryside special reception was held at Bushwood Antiques in October with a talk on recognition of valuable pieces by antiques expert John Bly. 75 guests attended the event at Hertfordshire’s leading antiques showrooms in their rural location near Redbourn. Keith Waller of Surbiton Probus made it possible for around fifty members to arrive at Bushwood Antiques in a London Routemaster bus.

Also present on the day were Harpenden’s Lady Taveners with
Jane Wilding, Chairman of the Chiltern Region and President Joan
Morcambe. Director of Bushwood Antiques said: “The Day was a great success and we made some good sales. Complete house refurbs using antiques is really big business today.”

Responsible for this special occasion was Bushwood Antiques Marketing Manager Julie Collins. Bushwood Antiques has over 8500 pieces of English and Continental antique furniture and accessories from the Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian periods. The Centre, based around an idyllic Georgian stableyard, has two showrooms and an arena-sized warehouse of over 25,000 sq feet and provides a complete antiques-based interior design scheme for homes or offices in the UK and Worldwide. Whether you are searching for a single item or wish to furnish an entire home,

Bushwood Antiques is here to help. Celebrating the joy of Antiques

 

Left to right: Keith Waller of Surbiton Probus, Julie Collins, Tony Bush, Joan Morcambe, Jane Wilding and John Bly

 Written by StAlbansRobin, StAlbansPeople

Yesterday we popped into Bushwood Antiques, in Redbourn, having been impressed the small collection of antiques the same shop has in a concession at Hatfield House, which we visited a few weeks ago.

Their brochure contains a quote from BBC Homes & Antiques, which provides an accurate summary of Bushwood:

"Swathes of oak and mahogany tables greet the eye, not to mention satinwood cabinets, walnut wardrobes, rosewood chests and row upon row of chairs."

This place is, more than any antiques retailer we've ever been to, simply mind-blowing. There are two showrooms, part of the gorgeous stables next to a country pile, full of high-end antiques, displayed as if they were in a home. We saw beautiful bookcases, dining tables that could easily seat 12 or more guests, numerous four poster beds and much more.

Next door, however, is an "arena sized" warehouse, with over 8000 pieces of furniture - we're talking row after row, sometimes piled up to the rafters, of Regency, Victorian and Edwardian furniture.

Although there are antiques available to suit any budget, Bushwood does have a high-end air to it, offering, according to the brochure we picked up, collection of clients from London airports, free delivery in and around London, and overseas shipping.

Bushwood Antiques is located at Stags End Equestrian Centre, Gaddesden Lan, Redbourn, Hertfordshire, HP2 6HN and they are open from 08.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday.

Written by Mark Hill, markhillpublishing

I’ve just returned from a visit to the wonderful Bushwood Antiques, and am truly excited. Based in the beautiful countryside near Hemel Hempstead, the drive there is fantastic enough, but not as fantastic as the place itself. Over 7,500 pieces of antique furniture await you, ranging in date from the 16th to early 20th centuries, and priced from as little as £200 to over £20,000! There truly is something here for everyone from chairs to bookcases, bureaux and sideboards.

The reason for this post is that I believe Bushwood to be one of the best dealers in Britain for sourcing antique furniture gems. With over 30 years of experience, owner Tony Bush and his staff make you feel welcome and offer friendly and practical advice making it an ideal destination to buy, whatever your level of experience. So-called ‘brown’ Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian furniture is really making a comeback today and, although prices are beginning to rise, they’re still highly affordable – especially when compared to something you might buy on the high street or in a retail park. You’ll get something unique, individual and indicative of the high quality of hand craftsmanship you just don’t see today. What’s more, the money you ‘invest’ is certainly safer in a piece of antique furniture than it is a modern piece of MDF or chipboard.

 

Written by Zoe Forsey, St Albans Review

The BBC visited Redbourn yesterday (Thursday) to film the second series of an antique auction show.

Celebrities Stephanie Powers and Don Warrington were at Bushwood Antiques in Gaddesden Lane to hunt out items for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

The 20 episode series, which is produced by STV Productions, follows celebrities as they search for antiques to sell on for profit with the help of an industry expert.

Julie Collins, sales manager at the store, said: “It was absolutely brilliant.

“It couldn’t have gone any better.

“It was really interesting to watch the filming.”

During their visit to the store both celebrities brought items.

Stephanie Powers purchased a Victorian writing slope while Don Warrington found a top hat in its original box.

Ms Collins added: “They were both really lovely people – they were really friendly.

“Stephanie loved the surrounding. She said she might come back and visit on her own.”

In total 20 celebrity pairs will search for antiques across the UK.

Liam Keelan, controller of daytime and early peak shows at the BBC, said: "I'm delighted the audience has taken Celebrity Antiques Road Trip to its heart and made it a great success in the BBC 2 schedule.

“We're looking forward to many more famous faces careering around the countryside in search of a profit.”

The show is due to air on BBC Two later this year.

Written by Adam Edwards, The Daily Telegraph

What's the future for antique furniture? Adam Edwards seeks out the trade's Mr Big

If you wanted an unusual piece of antique furniture and - well, let's take an example completely at random - you fancied a hand-carved double bed modelled on a Venetian gondola that had seen service in an Italian brothel, Tony Bush is your man.

He has two of them. He also has a chest of drawers that looks like a barrel, a child's four-poster bed, a life-size bronze of an unknown horse and the marble bust of a mewling infant. These objects are in addition to the 1,000 chairs, hundreds of dining tables and scores of long, mahogany sideboards, all cooped up in the middle of the English countryside.

Tony owns the largest antique furniture cave in Britain and possibly in Europe. His stock, some of it at any rate, is squeezed into 20,000 square foot of a former indoor equestrian centre in the middle of rural Hertfordshire. There is more kit in the two adjacent barns that have been converted into showrooms while the rest - and there is quite a lot of the rest - is housed in farm buildings dotted around the immediate area of Gaddesden, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

''I can't resist buying furniture I like,'' says Tony, owner of Bushwood Antiques, who lives ''above the shop'' in a pair of workmen's cottages that he has converted into a one-bedroom, period home with a wood-panelled snooker room. ''What I like is well-made English furniture from the past four centuries, and I don't care if it is in or out of fashion.''
As the summer antique fair season kicked off at Olympia last month, John Harvey, a director of Sotheby's, was reported as saying: ''The way things are going, it will soon be as cheap to buy an antique dining table in a sale as it is to get a new one from Ikea. Prices today are as low as they were 20 years ago.''

Twenty years ago, Tony moved lock, stock and barrel - and that was £2 million worth of antique stock, excluding the barrel chest of drawers - from the capital to the stables and outhouses of a grand mansion 20 minutes from St Albans.

''I didn't have enough room for everything in Camden Town,'' he says, by way of explanation for his extraordinary concentration of brown furniture, ''so I sold my London premises to Sainsbury's.''

Since the move, he has been responsible for furnishing some of Britain's grandest hotels and mansions. The Ritz Carlton is a customer, as is the stately Brocket Hall. Oasis's Noel Gallagher had his country house stocked from the old equestrian centre. Musician Jools Holland picked up a number of bits and pieces for his pad. So did Lady Chelsea, and so do scores of Britain's smartest interior decorators.

Bushwood Antiques is unique. There is nowhere quite like it in the murky world of French polish and fine veneer. Not only does it hold an extraordinary range of stock but it has its own team of five full-time restorers and polishers that can alter and colour any piece to suit.

'We provide an after-sales service,'' says the nattily dressed Tony. ''If we sell you a grandfather clock that stops ticking, we'll fix it. If you want a set of chairs to match a table, we'll polish them to the right colour. If you need the arms to a pair of carvers shortened so that they fit at the end your table, we can do it.''

Tony, who has the air of an elderly rock-and-roll statesman about him, started out in a £6-a- week shed in Ealing, west London. One of his earliest customers was the father of The Who's Pete Townshend, who asked Tony to help furnish his son's first home; which, in turn, led Tony to providing the fixtures for lead singer Roger Daltrey's house.

The wholesale buying and selling of antique furniture has been Tony's business ever since. Or at least that was true until the unfortunate combination of London property prices, 9/11 and minimalism forced him to go retail.

''The price of renting a shop in London became prohibitive for a lot of dealers,'' he says. "They were forced to rely on antique fairs. Then the Americans stopped coming over. And antique furniture had, by then, gone out of fashion. The result is that many big dealers have gone out of business. I am one of the few that have survived and I have done it by selling to the public as well as to the trade.''

Tony, who still buys all the furniture with the help of his assistant, Julie Collins, is convinced that antique furniture will come back into fashion. It only needs an influential figure - he suggests David Beckham - to decorate his home with a mahogany sideboard or a walnut chest and the prices will start to rocket.

"If you think of the craftsmanship that goes into an antique piece - the wood, the hand-carving, the dovetail joints - and compare it to a flat-pack self-assembly piece, then you understand that today's prices are absurdly low. Now is the time to buy.
" And if you are buying and your shopping list includes an antique bed, may I recommend the hand- carved, hand-painted ''love boat'' with one carefree previous owner which is a snip at £12,000."