Four Rooms, Four Dealers: Jeff Salmon

Four Rooms judge Jeff Salmon talks to RT

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The bull-nosed, gambling one with the dice and the uncanny ability to call himself “Mr Quirky” with a straight face.

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What was your best deal of the series?

My best deal of the series was undoubtedly the Princess Diana and Prince Charles Christmas cards. OK, I was lucky to win the dice, but whether I had paid £10,000 or £25,000 there is still a great profit in them and, of great importance to me, is the fact that they are of great national significance.

Was there a piece you desperately wanted that you didn’t manage to get your hands on?

There were two pieces that I desperately wanted:

The “Birds Birds Birds” chandelier, which I thought both hugely decorative and, of its type, important because it was bespoke and not one of the “normal” models generally available.

The Norman Foster prototype table. However, it is vital to understand that as much as I may desire an object, I cannot forget that I have “mouths to feed” and if my gut tells me there is an upper limit then one has to stick to one’s guns and not pay any more. It really doesn’t take a lot of brains to overpay for anything.

Have you made a decent profit on anything you’ve bought during the series?

I have already been offered a 300% profit on the Diana card collection, but I haven’t taken the bait yet!

How do you know so much about such a wide range of subjects? Do you take advice?

I have been “in the trade”, so to speak, since I was 17 years old, which was when I joined the auction house, Sotheby’s. As an East London dude with one O-Level to my credit I had to make every effort to learn as much as I could and, it has to be said, I found Sotheby’s to be a university which actually paid me to be there! I made it my business to study as many different cultures and types of antiques as possible and, it has to be said, I was like a sponge soaking up information. I certainly consider myself to be an expert in four or five different fields (which is far more than most dealers, who may have knowledge of one sector).

Of course, the internet has been an absolute boon to all dealers in terms of research and, in the very little time we have available to research the items that are pitched to us in the mornings (the negotiations are filmed in the afternoon), when we are dealing with goods that are far out of our comfort zone (most of them) Google is an absolute necessity.

And finally, what will you offer me for a collection of leatherbound volumes of every single Radio Times since 1923?

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Finally, if you offer me a collection of leatherbound volumes of every single Radio Times since 1923, I will allow you to write the foreword of my autobiography. I will also “throw in” a valuable unsigned copy because the vast majority of the books will be signed.