She is a celebrity antique journalist, and presenter. Judith Miller has written 100s of inspirational books on antiques and interior trends including the infamous Millers Antique price guides, books which are recognised international benchmarks for pricing in the antique industry. Judith is the world's leading expert and a household name across the globe for antiques dealers and enthusiasts, plus a recognised expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow. We are honored to interview this awesome lady.
1. What was your most challenging and memorable find?
I don't know about 'challenging', but my most memorable 'find' wasn't something acquired for myself, but rather some things discovered by a man when he was a young boy back in the early 1970s. The man approached me on the BBC Antiques Roadshow 4-5 years ago with a wonderful story of how as a young lad he had accompanied his mother to a local house sale and discovered in some boxes under a dining table 100 advertising posters. He asked his mum if they could buy them, but she said no as the 'lot' was everything – furnishings, artefacts, etc – in that room... an hour or so later at the auction the entire lot went for the grand sum of £13, at which point the boy went up on his own to the woman who'd acquired it and asked if she really wanted the old posters in the boxes under the dining table. She replied 'no, not really'. He asked if he could buy them, and if so how much did she want? She looked down at him as said '50p would be alright young man'. He had 50p, just, so they were his. Now he only brought along 4 of the 100 to show me at the Roadshow, so I can't speak for the other 96, but I conservatively valued the 4 I saw – British Art Deco period transport posters by Jean Dupas – at £40,000!
2. What is your most cherished piece that you personally own (and would never part with, sell)?
Without a shadow of a doubt my great aunt Lizzie's silver plate and cranberry glass claret jug of c.1890. On leaving school she went 'into service' in a grand house in the Scottish Borders and, when she became engaged to be married, the lady of the house invited her 'upstairs' and said she could choose any piece of glass or pottery from the reception rooms as a wedding present. She chose the claret jug, and it came down to me via my mother. I'd never ever sell it.
5. What was the last creative exhibition or public fair you attended?
6. Some of us hold onto many reference books including your price guides. Now we have instant accessible information on the internet, how are you going to maintain the future of these guides?
It's a good question: one we began addressing a long time ago, and one we regularly re-address. First and foremost, we try to ensue that the items we include are representative (of what's happening in the markets), rather than aberrational/misleading – in other words, we're using our experience and expertise to 'curate the content' from the vast volume of raw data that's out there. Second, we include lots of extra information throughout all the different section of the guides – ranging from observations on specific market trends, to useful background info on different collecting fields (when it comes to buying or selling, knowledge is power!). Thirdly (and we can claim no credit for this, it's the nature of the beast): if you type, for example, Royal Worcester, into a search engine you'll get hundreds (maybe thousands) of Royal Worcester entries up on your screen; but that's all you'll get. In contrast, if you turn the pages of the Antiques or Collectables Guides to get to Royal Worcester, lots of other stuff (eg. Royal Doulton, etc, etc) will come into your field of vision en route, stuff which may (or may not) stimulate further interest. That's in the nature of reference books, and 'hard copy', and although it's rather difficult to pin down the touchy/feely concept, it's one that consistently gets very favourable feedback from focus groups.
Oh, for certain a pair of very plain, 18th century Wedgwood creamware salts. They're on the breakfast and dining table just about all the time, and they're in constant use for what they were always intended for: salt and pepper.
8. What type of antique or vintage products would you give as a wedding gift?
9. What was your last antique purchase?
An early 1960s Murano glass bird designed by Alessandro Pianon for Vistosi. It's one of five, highly stylised birds Pianon designed for Vistosi. Each is individually hand-blown, so none are ever exactly alike. I now have 3 of the 5, but whether or not I 'capture' the other two is becoming increasingly unlikely, as they are becoming more and more expensive.