Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Peter the Con and The China Shop.


                               Résultat de recherche d'images pour "chinese bronze vessels"
               A genuine Chinese antique bronze ceremonial bowl.


You meet all sorts of rogues in the Antiques business. Resting actors, small-time crooks, lost souls; any old wide-boy can turn-up under the guise of an 'antique dealer'.

In my own case I'd been managing a small West End art gallery, and was invited to join Justin de V in his antiques/interiors Co. I was brought into the fold as the 'Art Expert' (ahem). Justin soon went off to manage young Twiggy, so I then set-up on my own.

There were some wonderful people around in mid-60's Chelsea, one of whom was a rather murky character known as 'Peter the Con'. His 'girlfriend' was a chunky, very well known, 50-something, resting TV actress, who used to knock him about; he seemed to like it.

Anyway, dear Peter came under the 'lost soul' category, and seemed to have no ambition or goal in life; he just 'lived'.

His claim to fame was that he bought very convincing bits of brand-new 'antique style' Chinese bronzes from The China Shop (that used to be up by Marble Arch), and expelled his copious daily intake of beer over them each evening when he returned home (there were usually a dozen or so bronzes, all lined-up outside his back door).

After a few months they changed from looking brand new to looking several hundred years old, and were sold on as such; gaining a considerable mark-up. It made him a meagre living, and no doubt many Peter the Con antique Chinese bronzes are still around in treasured collections.

I wonder what happened to him? Maybe some disgruntled client pissed on him from a great height, and he died of his own verdigris poisoning; or maybe his pugilistic girlfriend finished him off!


21 comments:

  1. He's probably dribbling in a rest home. But people like him often live on forever, unless knocked on the head one too many times by the girlfriend. Maybe he's weeding the cabbages in his allotment right now.

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    Replies
    1. He was quite a bit older than me, so I imagine he's gone to the great non-antique shop in the sky.

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  2. Sounds a character. The Del boy of the antique world; "We buy rubbish and sell antiques!"

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    Replies
    1. These days the Chinese sell everything ready-aged, in those days they came 'raw'.

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  3. As you say above, the Chinese are very good at faking their own stuff these days.

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    Replies
    1. As are the Indians; and very good they are too.

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  4. There always have been con-men/women but today with the Internet, their numbers have multiplied more than a thousand fold. The arts and people’s ego are a prime target.

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  5. All part of life's rich tapestry.

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    Replies
    1. Peter certainly was... a right nut case!

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  6. I love your stories of some of the quaint characters you have met down there in the South - all we have up here to compare are Dalesmen who have lived out at the back of beyond since they were born.

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    Replies
    1. Chelsea in the mid-60's was where they all gathered (me included). They were interesting times.

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  7. Replies
    1. Not particularly; he always seemed a bit 'seedy' to me. Always trying to find a wangle.

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  8. People buy these because they like them? No harm done. People are conned into investing their money in them with hope of a good return? Bad luck and perhaps they are better off working a proper job.

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  9. You have the most interesting friends and or acquaintances.

    cheers parsnip

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    Replies
    1. I certainly did in those days; by the bucket load!

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  10. I've been lucky enough to meet and spend time with some of those in the 1060s Chelsea set. If you can get them reminiscing, it's a fascinating snapshot of a legendary time.

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