We speak to James Gooch, winner of Antiques Young Gun of the Year

The imaginative dealer behind Doe & Hope talks TV, trophies and Titanic memorabilia

Antiques Young Guns first came together two years ago as a way of promoting and supporting young blood in the antiques trade. It is open to anyone under the age of 39 who makes their living from antiques, vintage or collectables.

Today the website hosts a busy marketplace and the second Antique Young Gun of the Year awards was held last week – in glittering and somewhat rowdy style – at Alfies Antiques Market in London.

We speak to the overall winner of the Antique Young Gun of the Year award, James Gooch, founder of Doe & Hope, about trophies, TV and Titanic memorabilia…

How does it feel to be the Antique Young Gun of the Year?

Great because I’ve been part of it from the start and I’m really keen to take the movement forward and build on what’s been done. We started talking about it four years ago on Twitter but that was just chitter-chatter. It’s amazing what’s been achieved since.

For people outside the trade can you explain what the Young Guns movement actually does?

There’s an online marketplace to sell pieces and it’s a forum for advice. You can share a picture of a piece asking if other dealers have sold anything similar before and it’s inspiring to see what other people are doing as everyone deals differently.

We also drink a lot together. The social side is important as when you start out in antiques, it’s easy not to realize that other young people are doing the same thing.

How did you get started?

I started out as a researcher in TV but I got sick of the egos. I always liked old things and archaeology. If I picked something up, I’d always imagine the back story. Imagination is important in this trade.

I was left some money by my gran so I used that to get set up and worked in an antiques centre in Essex two days a week for four years, running Doe and Hope on the other days. It earnt just enough to cover the bills! I quit the antiques centre two years ago to go fully on my own.

And what would you say your USP is?

Selling an atmosphere. You are buying an idea rather than an object. I style the pictures of my stock more than most. They are taken at certain times of day when the light is right (only ever natural light!) and I try and write stories about each thing – personifying them almost.

What’s the story behind the name?

I have absolutely no idea! I used to like following deer in the wood. I like their nature. Then ‘Doe and Hope’ occurred to me one day as a great name for a bar or pub so I noted it on my phone. When I came round to starting up the business, I thought ‘I’ll just use that’.

What do you collect yourself?

The only thing I collect at the moment is music-related items from the Titanic.

That’s quite niche…

I like ragtime and I like the romance of the whole story. It would be nice to see the wreck itself but I don’t think it will ever happen… And anyway, it’s the music that I’m really into. There were some cool characters aboard with some very different back-stories. 

Any tips for youngsters starting out?

Like TV, antiques is hard to break into but in a different way. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t bother. And don’t do it because you think you’ll make money!

Buy things that make you excited. Those are what you’ll make money on. Also, you have to create a brand – make sure you are yourself and don’t mimic other people’s styles.

What’s next for Doe & Hope?

A 5am trip to Swinderby antiques market tomorrow!

An early start!

Yes but it’s worth going to the big fairs. On a good day I’ll find about four to five pieces. I tend to go to fairs more than auctions because it’s so hard knowing when to stop. The best bit of the job is the thrill of the chase – once you have a piece it becomes less exciting.

And what is the toughest part?

Not knowing what your income is. Mine can vary anywhere between £6,000 and £20,000 month to month. But Doe & Hope is set to become a limited company next year, which is exciting.

And with a Young Gun of the Year award under your belt…

That helps. I don’t want to get big though because it’s such a personal art and I don’t really want to employ anyone else.

Any gossip we should know from the awards night?

I don’t think I’m the best person to ask. We used the award as a tray for shots but then I had to go back to my hotel to charge my phone and fell asleep! The glam lifestyle of a winner…


James trades online at doeandhope.com or you can book an appointment to visit Doe & Hope, The Onion Barn,
Shoe Cottage, 15 High Street, Blunham, Bedfordshire, MK44 3NL by calling 07729 213013.

For more information about the Antique Young Guns movement go to antiquesyoungguns.com

The Frome Independent, Frome, Somerset
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