Allan Blackburn column: Antiques students learn business by degrees

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

This week, I was having a sort through some papers and found something that triggered a great memory that I wanted to share with you.

It was this week, 10 years ago, that we helped a group of North West students get hands-on experience of the antiques trade.

The second year students were reading Antiques and Design Studies at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. In order to give them inside knowledge on buying and selling antiques, their tutor arranged for them to have a working stand here at GB Antiques Centre.

At the time, the course leader, Mr James Battersby, said it was a fantastic opportunity for the students to learn from other successful antiques dealers and to become familiar with commercial antiques and collectables.

Once the students had set up their stand amongst all the other dealers in the centre, they really enjoyed the exhilaration of buying and selling, with one student even describing it as thrilling.

They kept their stand for the duration of their three-year BA (Hons) course and had a range of items on sale from £2 collectables to £500 antiques.

Of course the centre wasn’t as big then as it is now, but I’d like to think that if students ever wanted to experience this hands-on approach to accompany their studies we could accommodate them.

In this business, there is no alternative to experience. Pardon the pun – but it’s priceless.

The look and feel of a piece speaks volumes when you are trying to accurately date or value it and being at the centre day to day dealing with customers and other traders really does give you that inside info.

My experience came from visiting antique shops, centres and fairs, and reading the results of every auction sale in the UK.

There’s lots of ways of 
valuing antiques and I’ll tell you more about that next week.

At the time, UCLAN was the only university in the United Kingdom to offer a degree course in antiques, but now there are a few available. The University of Wolverhampton even offers a two year auctioneering course!