The hustle and bustle of the daily grind melts away when you step into Drumduff Antiques, Raymond Robinson’s picturesque antiques business.
A converted barn beside his Florencecourt farmhouse contains a treasure-trove of beautifully crafted antiques, each telling a tale of times gone by, evoking images of eighteenth century ladies sipping afternoon tea while the lord of the manor plays backgammon.
Waterfall dressers, dining tables, gold mirrors and writing desks bring the visitor back in time. But this is no museum, it is a thriving business which has been buying and selling antiques for the past 40 years.
A trend has emerged locally in the last 15 years whereby 50-60 per cent of Mr. Robinson’s customers are in their thirties. This is up from around five per cent in the preceding 15 years.
“We sell a lot to the second generation, the children of people who have bought from us in the past,” Mr. Robinson explains.
“Today, with all the TV programmes about antiques, a lot of the younger generation have taken a great interest in something beautiful, with a bit of age and history and they have come to see that a genuine antique is a joy forever.” A farmer, who has always had a keen interest in history and classical music, Mr. Robinson has some advice for antique buyers. “Always ask the seller about the item and beware if they are not able to give you details because unfortunately there are a lot of reproductions about.” He continues: “One of the most important rules is to try and buy something good, or, as a great antique seller said to me many years ago: ‘If you buy quality, you will get quality.’” A common query, particularly from the younger customer, is whether an antique can suit a newly built house. In response, Mr. Robinson points out: “About 70 per cent of what we sell and deliver goes into new homes.” The modern world can often be “a throw-away generation”, Mr. Robinson observes, adding: “But that antique will be there a lifetime and your children will have it, while you’ve went through six cars and 10 washing machines.” He is not concerned about running out of business in the future. “There were antiques shops in Charles Dicken’s time and there will still be antiques shops, however, not as many craftsmen are making the type of good quality furniture that was made years ago.
“I see a future for antiques because, in a minimalistic world, when something of real quality is scarce, people realise that there may come a time when they can’t acquire that product, so they become interested in it. It’s like I always say: ‘You think nothing of water until the well runs dry’.” Customers come to Drumduff Antiques from all over the world, with tourists regularly calling in. However, Mr. Robinson only delivers within Ireland. He is regularly asked: “Do you have any cheap furniture?” In response, Mr. Robinson points to a car which begins to devalue the moment it leaves the showroom. “You can pay £100,000 for a car and it will still get old and devalue. The opposite is true of an antique. Quality always sells.”