Antiques and the Stately Homes

The Story of Castle Fairs




Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 10/2/2007

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.25x10.75
Page Count : 148
ISBN : 9781412054911

About the Book

It has been given to few people to have the privilege of working for 25 years in such a large variety of Britain's stately homes. For that person then to get to know well so many members of the aristocracy whilst surrounded by a galaxy of the finest antiques is unique. Robert Soper, and his wife Stephanie, fell upon the opportunity of revamping the antiques trade as it was then, at the same time being instrumental in dragging the reluctant aristocracy into the real world of commerce, using their most important assets - their estates - to generate real money for once. Far from it being an easy ride, soon after they began they encountered severe and hostile opposition resulting into a diversification that generated some of Britain's biggest shows under canvas. How they franchised the business is discussed with the stories of their biggest triumphs and worst disasters given equal prominence. Part two is a series of anecdotes and amusing happenings when ordinary people mix with the great and the good including how the author had to gently evict Lord Spencer, Princess Diana's father, out of one stately home, ghosts we encountered and what happens when you get the advertising wrong. Part three is a personal view of Fakes and Forgeries circulating through both industries, the minefield of authenticating antiques, the hidden stately homes, how much your antiques may be actually worth right through to how the 'ring' works at auctions. A fascinating insight into two mysterious worlds. The book is well illustrated and has a foreword written by the good friend of the author, The Duke of Richmond in whose home, Goodwood House, he spent over one whole year during the period.

About the Author

Robert Soper was born in Leeds, England, in 1936 where he attended Leeds Grammar School. He trained as a Mechanical engineer by day, getting his qualifications at night school whilst, at the same time starting his first business. This was in restoring classic cars. He sold this in 1959 to open 'The Rally and Speed Shop' which for 45 years was to be the foremost place in Leeds to buy motor racing and rallying equipment. Whilst there he developed many successful products and was one of the pioneers of turbo and supercharging working with such industry leaders as Chris Shorrock and Sydney Allard. This business was sold in 1968 when he got involved with property, soon being a consultant with the now defunct Historic Buildings Council. Marriage led to dabbling commercially in the hobby of collecting Chinese porcelain from which it became obvious that Antique Fairs needed better venues and Stately Homes needed money. The last twenty five years of his working life have been devoted to bringing the two together until he sold out and retired in 2001. This book covers just the last 25 years where he became undisputed market leader in the UK, transforming the fairs so that virtually every one in Europe, right up to the very top, now runs to the formula first laid down by the Sopers in 1978.