The world of antiques can be tricky to navigate even for expert Judith Miller.

“About 26-years-ago I thought I had too much Chinese porcelain and sold a very good quality tall vase made circa 1680,” said the BBC Antiques Roadshow regular.

“I got about £9,000 for it which I was extremely happy with as I’d bought it for £1,000. If I sold it today I’d get £1.5million.

So how can those looking to buy investment antiques in Canary Wharf and east London avoid missing an opportunity and being conned?

Judith’s advice is to turn off the computer and heading down to a fair or shop and see items firsthand.

The 65-year-old, who has just finished handing out advice at the first AFE London Art Antiques Interiors Fair at Excel, said: “When you don’t have much knowledge the internet is a very dangerous place for buying antiques.

“There are some very good fakes around and they are getting better. That’s why it’s best to buy from a reputable dealer or auction house if you are starting out.

“Go along somewhere and handle things and cultivate a nice friendly dealer because they will want to help you. They are not going to rip you off because they want to make you happy so you come back and buy other things.

“They are happy to haggle but don’t insult. They have spent a lot of time, effort and mileage finding those pieces. Most will be happy to give a 10 percent discount, or ask for their best price or wait until the end of the day.

“My other advice for a fair would be to turn left. Most people turn right so go the other way first and you might find something good.”

Items no longer have to be more than 100 years old to qualify as an antique, and the Scottish native recommended going to museums such as the Vand A or auction houses to train your eye to spot quality.

The author of the biennial Miller’s Antique Price Guide and Handbook, which has been going since 1979, revealed the items that are hot right now.

“Anything to do with Chinese porcelain, jades, works of art have gone through the roof, particularly early ones because the Chinese are buying back into that market, just like the Russians did. And people are saying the Indian market may do the same.

“Mid-century modern, things produced post Second World War in the 50s, 60s and 70s, is considered very cool at the moment, particularly in London. Furniture, glass ceramics, it’s all doing well and on trend.

“Scandinavian ceramics from the 60s and 70s are reasonably priced, from about £30, and in my opinion will go up in value because they have such good style.

“Jewellery is also doing very well, I think because people are finding money in the bank isn’t making them anything. So they would rather buy something nice the at probably will appreciate in value and in the meantime they can enjoy it.”

In contrast furniture from the 19th century and Victorian tea sets have become undesirable and are not selling well.

Once you have your items you will need to think about insurance and possibly go to a specialist firm but Judith urged people not to simply pack item away, even if the are for investment.

“You pay a lot of money for secure storage. What’s the point of having something you don’t look at?

“If I was going to store anything it would be my receipt and photograph book of all the things I’ve bought rather than the things themselves. Because that’s what the insurance company will want if you are burgled or have a fire.”

Her final piece of advice: “Anything you buy, you can’t expect to go out two weeks later and make a profit. Unless you are really lucky.”

The Shops


Elemental, Chinese corner cabinet with original decorative red lacquer. and single drawer from 1890, £480

Where: 130 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JE

What: Furniture, lighting, objects and art - mostly 20th century, but not exclusively.

Contact:, 020 7247 7588

B Southgate

B Southgate, amber glass bowl possibly Whitefriars from third quarter 20th century, £65

Where: 4 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London E2 7RH (in Columbia Road Flower Market)

What:Trading since 2003, the stock ranges widely, from large-scale storage pieces through armchairs to small desk lamps. Pieces typically date from 1900 to 1950 and encompass a diverse mix of useful, beautiful and quirky things for the home.

Contact:, 07905 960 792


Townhouse Spitalfields, Pen and ink faces by Madge Gill c1940, contact shop for price

Where: 5 Fournier Street, London E1 6QE

What: Antique shop in an 18th-century house, with furniture, glassware and 20th century British art.

Contact: 020 7247 4745


Mar-Den, Juindrich Halabala bentwood chair c1940 reupholstered in navy Swedish linen, £1,250

Where: 77 Asylum Road, Peckham. London SE15 2RJ (appointment necessary)

Run by trio Frances, Charlie and Alex and mostly sells Mid-Century Modern furniture, lighting and mirrors with the aim of helping customers “step away from buying new, mass-produced items which can lack What: personality, and explore the past through pieces that are both functional and beautiful.”

Contact:, 07940 762 885

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