Learning with experts

Tony Geering



Geering, is a self-taught spotter of Arts and Crafts furniture, the style whose most famous exponent is William Morris. Up to half the Arts and Crafts furniture sold by Liberty in London has been discovered by Geering - mainly at big antiques fairs and obscure country shops. He now presides over The Dome, a former Territorial Army drill hall in Southwold, Suffolk, crammed with furniture decorated with flowing foliate designs or with a distinct Oriental look. Tony Geering, is now nationally recognised as one of the leading specialists in the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Arts and Crafts Movement became his holy grail; the pursuit of knowledge, his sustenance. Rare and important pieces he has found over the years have ended up in museums and private collections around the world, and his TV career which has evolved off the back of this man's life work, were lead by his passion and joy, permeating into the nations front rooms. This is not just work, or an assignment, or a satisfying past time; this is a way of life, a life surrounded by beautiful everyday objects steeped in British history, relating to design and social reform throughout the last 150 years. His first find was a table he paid £750 for from an antique shop. He then consigned it to Sotheby's where it is fetched £20,000-£30,000 the following week. The £750 mahogany drop-leaf table, from about 1872, was by the pioneer Arts and Crafts designer E.W. Godwin. 'The table was described as "an un-restored Edwardian table". My heart nearly came out of my mouth. I felt adamantly that it was by Godwin. We lifted an old pot off it and I got a better look. I told the gentleman I liked it. "That table is £750, dear boy," he said. I told him I'd like to have it. "And how will you pay for it?" "I'd like to pay cash."'Geering took out his wad from his back pocket, peeled off 15 £50 notes and carried off the table. How did he know the table was by Godwin? 'Its distinguishing feature was the small drop leaves and piano hinges running the length of the flap.' The hinges were typical of the fine craftsmanship of the makers, Collinson and Lock. Geering's resolute scruffiness tempts the notion that anyone could make money by beating furniture dealers at their own game. Which is not far from the truth. All you need is time and love. 'I just love what those Romantic, pre-Raphaelite designers and craftsmen were trying to do,' says Geering. 'Their endeavour seems to move my whole being. Now, their work seems to find me. Maybe it's because I believe in it. I feel I'm being sent to those lost little shops where I make finds.'

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