Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

One of the services we offer at GB Antiques Centre is valuing people’s treasures.

I love this part of the job as it’s often the stories that accompany the item that are actually more interesting then the item itself.

This was especially true this week when someone brought in a marble chess table for me to have a look at.

He said he had bought it whilst holidaying in India in the 1990’s.

He visited a marble factory, saw the table, decided that it was too expensive and tried to leave.

The salesman started haggling and then fetched his father who took over the negotiations.

The elder man said he would let the table go for a good price (which included shipping back to the UK) as long as he swore to never tell a soul how much it cost.

It was at this point I tried not to smile, as it’s a story I’ve heard a lot and a typical haggling technique.

I was hoping that he hadn’t been ripped off and that the table was genuine.

Chess tables are usually extremely decorative, well made and potentially expensive pieces of furniture.

Most chess tables have the board inlaid or engraved, though cheaper tables may have it painted on.

Some of these types of table are literally works of art.

The skill of the craftsmanship and the detail that goes into them is simply stunning.

The workmanship, quality and expense of these tables means that marble is a popular choice.

They were sometimes made with drawers in, to house the playing pieces and are just fabulous to have on display at home.

It was obviously a beautiful table, but sadly turned out to be a marble copy made from resin immediately turning the value from something that could be worth thousands, to something that’s only likely to be worth hundreds.

It’s still a beautifully aesthetic piece but only worth about £400 or £500.

If it had been marble, it would have been worth about £5000.

What a shame.

Ps He never did tell me what he paid – so he kept his promise to the marble factory owner.

More on the pitfalls of buying antiques abroad next week.