Antiques News & Fairs
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ANF Blog

In Conversaton with ... Fileman Antiques

Fifth generation antique dealers Fileman Antiques have been content to work quietly behind the scenes supplying the upper echelon of the antiques trade on both sides of the Atlantic since the first part of the 20th century. 

We talk to Adam Fileman about his experience growing up in the family firm, how the business was run and what plans there for the future and how antiques fairs play a much bigger role in their business in the 21st century.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Early days

The company was founded by Morris Fileman, who was an electrical engineer in Brighton in the 1890's when the use of electricity was in its infancy. As a young man of 21, after training in London, he went to New Zealand to oversee the installation of their first electricity generating plant. He electrified the Palace Pier and many of the large hotels and theatres in Brighton.

At that time many people were installing modern light fittings, and he was often asked to dispose of the old ones. He felt that these should be saved and began to build up a stock of Regency and Victorian chandeliers and component parts. He opened a shop with a workshop in Queens Road, Brighton later moving to Preston Street and concentrating solely on antique lighting until his retirement in the late 1940's.
His son John Fileman took on the business on his return from fighting in the First World War losing a leg on the Somme. On his return, and still on crutches awaiting a prosthetic limb, he started to buy pieces of eighteenth century English glass and found an outlet for these with Arthur Churchill and, after his death, with Cecil Davis and others.

After opening his own shop in Dyke Road in Brighton in 1948 and the transfer of his father's stock, he reached a much wider clientele and ran a successful business selling antique lighting, eighteenth and nineteenth century glass and French paperweights until his death in 1962.

Today Fileman Antiques is run by the next two generations, David Fileman son of John and his three sons John, Adam and Daniel and the fifth generation in the firm, John’s son James Fileman.

Editor’s note: See below Q4 below: Antiques News & Fairs – ANF, has a close working relationship with The Antiques Diva & Co and my experience in meeting the Fileman family, as a guest of Ingrid Nilson at Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere, is just one example of why antiques fairs are an integral part of the antiques trade offering exhibitors and visitors the chance for a cross pollination of contacts and ideas.  Standing at a fair is not just a chance to sell, although we all hope this happens, it is the chance to meet contacts you may never encounter otherwise. Post fair sales are not often publicised but form part of the hemisphere of antiques fairs, one of the cornerstones of the industry.


1 ANF:  What changes in society do you think have affected the antiques trade in the past 15 - 20 years and how has Fileman Antiques adapted to these changes?


AF: The main changes have been fashion and the minimalistic interior, which have made some items difficult to sell. I also think that the young generation are interested in antiques but many wouldn’t want to live with them constantly because they feel the need to change and have the latest fashions. Fileman Antiques are planning a new website and social media campaign for early next year as we are find a large percentage of our business is coming from online platforms.  This new website would be the most significant change in the way we operate over the last 20 years.
 
2 ANF: Fileman Antiques has operated a policy of keeping a low profile behind the scenes, although positioned in an elite echelon of the international antiques trade with eminent dealer partners on the international stage, displaying your chandeliers at the most prominent shows – The Winter Show at Armory in NY, Masterpiece in London and at premier showrooms in London like BADA and LAPADA. What was behind your decision to change this policy and to start exhibiting at fairs under your own name?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - LAPADA Fair Berkeley Square

Fileman Antiques at LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square


AF: I felt the time was right to raise the profile of Fileman Antiques and try something different and hopefully find new clients that share my passion for antique lighting and glass. Our chandeliers and glass have been sold across the world by our trusted colleagues at these shows leading to on going relationships with new clients so I wanted to explore the opportunity of face to face experience with our clients.


3 ANF:  As members of both BADA and LAPADA you attend both association’s fairs but we notice you have an affinity with The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited organised fairs and we have seen you at Art Antiques Cheshire, Petworth Park and Mayfair and in October you will be attending the newly re-branded Northern Antiques Fair, organised by the owner of The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited, Ingrid Nilson.  What is it about these fairs that appeals to you?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Petworth Park Art & Antiques Fair


Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Petworth Park Art & Antiques Fair

Fileman Antiques at The Antique Dealers Fair Limited Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair


AF: The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited’s events are well organised, very well presented and advertised and they always have a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.  The team go the extra mile to ensure a smooth move in and out for exhibitors and the venues are always appealing to us.


4 ANF:  In today’s busy antiques fairs calendar, exhibitors can sometimes forget that the original purpose of an antiques fair was to give regional antiques dealers, who might trade from a remote part of the country, an opportunity to meet new clients and be seen, almost like a living advertisement.  Exhibitors often meet good contacts who appear at a later date with exciting business opportunities.  We heard on the grapevine that this happened to Fileman Antiques as a result of attending the Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere last year – can you tell us more?


AF: We have attended at the Mere for the last two years and on the second year we met Gail McLeod from ANF who was visiting as a guest of the publicity team at Antiques Dealers Fair Limited, and after this meeting we exchanged contact details and we very much appreciated the follow up ANF exposure of our items on social media.  We learned later that Gail offers a number of different services within the antiques trade including UK antique tours working for Antiques Diva & Co and it was on one of these tours we met a young American couple with a great passion and energy for antiques.  We met them a few times and eventually significant sales were reached and we know that it is highly unlikely that if Gail had not met us at Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere, this excellent contact would not have found us and we really appreciate the hard work and attention to detail which is part of the Antiques Diva process.


5 ANF: how well have Fileman Antiques adapted to the digital age and how difficult is it to photograph chandeliers?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Photograph by Daniel Fileman of a magnificent temple chandelier destined for LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2018


AF: I believe we have adapted reasonably well but sometimes I wish I could clone myself to keep up with the extra work the online and digital age brings to our business. Fileman Antiques are lucky that my brother Daniel has a passion for photography and he takes care of the images and the uploading of them to numerous websites, although photographing chandeliers can be difficult with many images required to show the pieces to their full potential.  We find we have had significant sales through very good photography and we are acutely aware that the imagery can be the first impression of your business for potential clients so we invest a lot of time and attention to this part of the business. The photographs we take are also extremely useful to give to the marketing teams at at the fairs where we exhibit to promote our involvement.


6 ANF: What plans do you have for your own website and do you sell on any of the portal sites? With James, the 5th generation member of the family now on board, will he manage the digital side of the business?


AF: We are planning a new website at the beginning of next year which will work alongside our other online portals which are the BADA website, Online Galleries and 1STDIBS.  With James being the youngest member of the team it makes sense that he will look after the digital side of the business although Daniel and myself are also active in this section of the business.


7 ANF: Your father David mentioned he had been trying to buy back a chandelier in France that the company owned 1989 but was unsuccessful and it had sold for £90,000.  Do you keep track of where your sold inventory goes to?  How do you trace and track important pieces?


AF: Whenever possible we would keep records of our important sales and now with the new digital system we have in place we can keep track of all sales in one central location which is very useful indeed. My grandfather and father kept meticulous and substantial records in large volumes together with historic sales catalogues and we will always safeguard this archive for posterity!


8 ANF:  We heard that Fileman Antiques offer a white glove service and will travel overseas to install chandeliers and return over time to clean and maintain these wonderful investment pieces.  Where have you travelled to do this for your clients?  You must have seen some beautiful historic houses during these expeditions?


AF: Fileman Antiques have always offered a service to deliver chandeliers and install them.  We mainly travel within the UK, America and Europe but we have installed chandeliers as far away as Chile, South America.  We feel that it is essential to offer this service to give our clients peace of mind when purchasing.  We are looking forward to visiting the recent Antiques Diva clients to install the chandeliers in their Southern United States historic mansion in the New Year.


9 ANF:  Glass, and chandeliers in particular, need constant care and important restoration.  Is all your restoration done in house?  Do you have any of the tools and spares used by your great grandfather back in time?


AF: Fileman Antiques offer a comprehensive restoration service worldwide with skills passed down from generation to generation. Most of the restoration is carried out in house but occasionally we are asked to reproduce a number of pieces for a client and we would put this work out to a glass cutter.  Fileman Antiques have a considerable selection of old chandelier drops and parts collected over the years, some dating back to my grandfather’s time in the business.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Archive image of drops from the workshop at Fileman Antiques


10 ANF:  Your father David told us that the company last exhibited at fairs in the 1960s in Brighton and in the last 3 years you have been seen at a number of high profile events across the UK.  Which events are on your calendar for 2019?


AF: We are working on our fairs schedule at the moment and will hopefully be exhibiting at BADA, LAPADA, The Northern Antiques Fair and Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fairs next year.

 

For more information, event dates and tickets see:

Fileman Antiques

The Antique Dealers Fair Ltd

The Northern Antiques Fair


LOOKING AHEAD

Antiques News & Fairs will be working with David Fileman in the New Year on a feature to unravel the history of the famous William Parker of London chandeliers in the Assembly Rooms of Bath. 

Image credits:

Bath Chronicle Newspaper

National Trust -Bath Assembly Rooms



Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

A letter which appeared in the Bath Chronicle c 2008

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Bath Assembly Rooms

The magnificent interior of Bath Assembly Rooms with the 3 William Parker of London chandeliers



Antiques News Blog

In Conversaton with ... Fileman Antiques

Fifth generation antique dealers Fileman Antiques have been content to work quietly behind the scenes supplying the upper echelon of the antiques trade on both sides of the Atlantic since the first part of the 20th century. 

We talk to Adam Fileman about his experience growing up in the family firm, how the business was run and what plans there for the future and how antiques fairs play a much bigger role in their business in the 21st century.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Early days

The company was founded by Morris Fileman, who was an electrical engineer in Brighton in the 1890's when the use of electricity was in its infancy. As a young man of 21, after training in London, he went to New Zealand to oversee the installation of their first electricity generating plant. He electrified the Palace Pier and many of the large hotels and theatres in Brighton.

At that time many people were installing modern light fittings, and he was often asked to dispose of the old ones. He felt that these should be saved and began to build up a stock of Regency and Victorian chandeliers and component parts. He opened a shop with a workshop in Queens Road, Brighton later moving to Preston Street and concentrating solely on antique lighting until his retirement in the late 1940's.
His son John Fileman took on the business on his return from fighting in the First World War losing a leg on the Somme. On his return, and still on crutches awaiting a prosthetic limb, he started to buy pieces of eighteenth century English glass and found an outlet for these with Arthur Churchill and, after his death, with Cecil Davis and others.

After opening his own shop in Dyke Road in Brighton in 1948 and the transfer of his father's stock, he reached a much wider clientele and ran a successful business selling antique lighting, eighteenth and nineteenth century glass and French paperweights until his death in 1962.

Today Fileman Antiques is run by the next two generations, David Fileman son of John and his three sons John, Adam and Daniel and the fifth generation in the firm, John’s son James Fileman.

Editor’s note: See below Q4 below: Antiques News & Fairs – ANF, has a close working relationship with The Antiques Diva & Co and my experience in meeting the Fileman family, as a guest of Ingrid Nilson at Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere, is just one example of why antiques fairs are an integral part of the antiques trade offering exhibitors and visitors the chance for a cross pollination of contacts and ideas.  Standing at a fair is not just a chance to sell, although we all hope this happens, it is the chance to meet contacts you may never encounter otherwise. Post fair sales are not often publicised but form part of the hemisphere of antiques fairs, one of the cornerstones of the industry.


1 ANF:  What changes in society do you think have affected the antiques trade in the past 15 - 20 years and how has Fileman Antiques adapted to these changes?


AF: The main changes have been fashion and the minimalistic interior, which have made some items difficult to sell. I also think that the young generation are interested in antiques but many wouldn’t want to live with them constantly because they feel the need to change and have the latest fashions. Fileman Antiques are planning a new website and social media campaign for early next year as we are find a large percentage of our business is coming from online platforms.  This new website would be the most significant change in the way we operate over the last 20 years.
 
2 ANF: Fileman Antiques has operated a policy of keeping a low profile behind the scenes, although positioned in an elite echelon of the international antiques trade with eminent dealer partners on the international stage, displaying your chandeliers at the most prominent shows – The Winter Show at Armory in NY, Masterpiece in London and at premier showrooms in London like BADA and LAPADA. What was behind your decision to change this policy and to start exhibiting at fairs under your own name?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - LAPADA Fair Berkeley Square

Fileman Antiques at LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square


AF: I felt the time was right to raise the profile of Fileman Antiques and try something different and hopefully find new clients that share my passion for antique lighting and glass. Our chandeliers and glass have been sold across the world by our trusted colleagues at these shows leading to on going relationships with new clients so I wanted to explore the opportunity of face to face experience with our clients.


3 ANF:  As members of both BADA and LAPADA you attend both association’s fairs but we notice you have an affinity with The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited organised fairs and we have seen you at Art Antiques Cheshire, Petworth Park and Mayfair and in October you will be attending the newly re-branded Northern Antiques Fair, organised by the owner of The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited, Ingrid Nilson.  What is it about these fairs that appeals to you?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Petworth Park Art & Antiques Fair


Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Petworth Park Art & Antiques Fair

Fileman Antiques at The Antique Dealers Fair Limited Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair


AF: The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited’s events are well organised, very well presented and advertised and they always have a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.  The team go the extra mile to ensure a smooth move in and out for exhibitors and the venues are always appealing to us.


4 ANF:  In today’s busy antiques fairs calendar, exhibitors can sometimes forget that the original purpose of an antiques fair was to give regional antiques dealers, who might trade from a remote part of the country, an opportunity to meet new clients and be seen, almost like a living advertisement.  Exhibitors often meet good contacts who appear at a later date with exciting business opportunities.  We heard on the grapevine that this happened to Fileman Antiques as a result of attending the Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere last year – can you tell us more?


AF: We have attended at the Mere for the last two years and on the second year we met Gail McLeod from ANF who was visiting as a guest of the publicity team at Antiques Dealers Fair Limited, and after this meeting we exchanged contact details and we very much appreciated the follow up ANF exposure of our items on social media.  We learned later that Gail offers a number of different services within the antiques trade including UK antique tours working for Antiques Diva & Co and it was on one of these tours we met a young American couple with a great passion and energy for antiques.  We met them a few times and eventually significant sales were reached and we know that it is highly unlikely that if Gail had not met us at Art Antiques Cheshire at the Mere, this excellent contact would not have found us and we really appreciate the hard work and attention to detail which is part of the Antiques Diva process.


5 ANF: how well have Fileman Antiques adapted to the digital age and how difficult is it to photograph chandeliers?

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Photograph by Daniel Fileman of a magnificent temple chandelier destined for LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2018


AF: I believe we have adapted reasonably well but sometimes I wish I could clone myself to keep up with the extra work the online and digital age brings to our business. Fileman Antiques are lucky that my brother Daniel has a passion for photography and he takes care of the images and the uploading of them to numerous websites, although photographing chandeliers can be difficult with many images required to show the pieces to their full potential.  We find we have had significant sales through very good photography and we are acutely aware that the imagery can be the first impression of your business for potential clients so we invest a lot of time and attention to this part of the business. The photographs we take are also extremely useful to give to the marketing teams at at the fairs where we exhibit to promote our involvement.


6 ANF: What plans do you have for your own website and do you sell on any of the portal sites? With James, the 5th generation member of the family now on board, will he manage the digital side of the business?


AF: We are planning a new website at the beginning of next year which will work alongside our other online portals which are the BADA website, Online Galleries and 1STDIBS.  With James being the youngest member of the team it makes sense that he will look after the digital side of the business although Daniel and myself are also active in this section of the business.


7 ANF: Your father David mentioned he had been trying to buy back a chandelier in France that the company owned 1989 but was unsuccessful and it had sold for £90,000.  Do you keep track of where your sold inventory goes to?  How do you trace and track important pieces?


AF: Whenever possible we would keep records of our important sales and now with the new digital system we have in place we can keep track of all sales in one central location which is very useful indeed. My grandfather and father kept meticulous and substantial records in large volumes together with historic sales catalogues and we will always safeguard this archive for posterity!


8 ANF:  We heard that Fileman Antiques offer a white glove service and will travel overseas to install chandeliers and return over time to clean and maintain these wonderful investment pieces.  Where have you travelled to do this for your clients?  You must have seen some beautiful historic houses during these expeditions?


AF: Fileman Antiques have always offered a service to deliver chandeliers and install them.  We mainly travel within the UK, America and Europe but we have installed chandeliers as far away as Chile, South America.  We feel that it is essential to offer this service to give our clients peace of mind when purchasing.  We are looking forward to visiting the recent Antiques Diva clients to install the chandeliers in their Southern United States historic mansion in the New Year.


9 ANF:  Glass, and chandeliers in particular, need constant care and important restoration.  Is all your restoration done in house?  Do you have any of the tools and spares used by your great grandfather back in time?


AF: Fileman Antiques offer a comprehensive restoration service worldwide with skills passed down from generation to generation. Most of the restoration is carried out in house but occasionally we are asked to reproduce a number of pieces for a client and we would put this work out to a glass cutter.  Fileman Antiques have a considerable selection of old chandelier drops and parts collected over the years, some dating back to my grandfather’s time in the business.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

Archive image of drops from the workshop at Fileman Antiques


10 ANF:  Your father David told us that the company last exhibited at fairs in the 1960s in Brighton and in the last 3 years you have been seen at a number of high profile events across the UK.  Which events are on your calendar for 2019?


AF: We are working on our fairs schedule at the moment and will hopefully be exhibiting at BADA, LAPADA, The Northern Antiques Fair and Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fairs next year.

 

For more information, event dates and tickets see:

Fileman Antiques

The Antique Dealers Fair Ltd

The Northern Antiques Fair


LOOKING AHEAD

Antiques News & Fairs will be working with David Fileman in the New Year on a feature to unravel the history of the famous William Parker of London chandeliers in the Assembly Rooms of Bath. 

Image credits:

Bath Chronicle Newspaper

National Trust -Bath Assembly Rooms



Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques

A letter which appeared in the Bath Chronicle c 2008

Antiques News & Fairs - Fileman Antiques - Bath Assembly Rooms

The magnificent interior of Bath Assembly Rooms with the 3 William Parker of London chandeliers