Five minutes with: David Hakeney
We’re pleased to introduce you to a treasured member of the Vintage Cash Cow family – and one of Hull’s finest – Mr David Hakeney.
Many of you will know him from his time on TV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal, where he wielded his incredible knowledge of all things antique as one of the show’s experts.
Some of you will know him as a prominent, effortlessly stylish figure in Hull and one of the city’s biggest fans.
And some of you will know him as part of the Vintage Cash Cow team and – more recently – the face of our latest TV ad!
We thought it was high time we put a few questions to him to help everyone get to know him that little bit more.
If you were to apply for a job tomorrow, what would you put on your CV?
My profession? I am an antique dealer and have been for 50 years or thereabouts. I am a very general dealer, I’ll buy a good picture, a piece of furniture, a piece of porcelain, or anything of nice quality.
What’s your earliest memory of being exposed to antiques?
My earliest memory of being exposed to antiques was through my parents, who used to go buying antiques just after the war in Harrogate and around that area.
In those days you couldn’t really buy new furniture, so they sourced furniture from Harrogate and that area and brought it back to Hull (where I’m from!) and sold them/ They were what we would call antiques today, but at the time it was just nice quality second hand furniture.
And when you were walking around these places, did anything in particular catch your eye?
Well, to be quite honest, I hated going to the sale rooms! My mother was the buyer of the goods, and she used to drag me all round those sale rooms with their second hand carpets wafting dust all over the place. It put me off sale rooms when I was a young lad.
So, how did your interest start?
Well, I was surrounded with furniture and Chinese vases and things that my parents brought back from these country house sales in those days.
Eventually, they moved onto newer furniture styles as things went on into the ’50s and ’60s, but the antique side always interested me, always. That extra quality of handmade things always interested me.
How did you get your start in antiques?
Well, how I got started: a gentleman I knew called Jerome Titus Walsh, an Irishmen, had a shop on Beverley Road in Hull.
I walked into his shop one day and saw him buy a Bentwood hat stand for £4. As he paid, he got this roll of money out of his back pocket, so big you could have choked a donkey on it! It was all Irish money because he used to go to Ireland every few weeks selling back there.
Then, about half an hour later, I saw him selling for £25. I thought, God, this is a good game. It isn’t quite like that, I might tell you, but most people think it is.
You must’ve learned a lot from your parents and from people like him – but where else did you learn your trade?
Well, you have to learn very quickly when all of a sudden somebody walks in and says, “Have you got a nice Davenport?” And you think to yourself, “What’s a Davenport!?”
So, you’d run up the road to the bookshop and try to look it up. “Davenport, oh yes. Well, I’ve got one coming shortly.”
You sort of learn on the job really. You could learn a lot from the right magazines and books, but you learn quickly when the demand is there – and there was a big demand when I started in the ’70s.
People were travelling over from Europe on the North Sea ferries to Hull every morning asking for brass candlesticks, rocking chairs, wall clocks, pocket watches and the like. All these lads were like wholesalers from the continent.
They’d come back every 14 days and re-buy again. They’d arrive in their transit vans with roof racks all piled up, and they were great days. Eventually they stopped but, by then, I’d learnt an awful lot.
We’d also started getting the London trade coming up to Hull. Don’t forget, this is the days before the internet and mobile phones, so Hull was, comparatively, a very insular city.
So, when a few London dealers came up to the North of England and found Hull, they also found that things were much cheaper than down in the South. I got a really good London connection built up but, sadly, mobile phones and the internet arrived and that canceled all that out eventually.
During all this time, did you develop a specialist area?
Well, I was mainly a furniture dealer most of my life, because furniture was my passion. I used to love good quality English furniture and continental furniture.
But, sadly, the furniture division just dwindled as Ikea came in strong. It meant that younger people didn’t want that dark brown furniture. Not only that, but the Europeans stopped coming over to buy it, so I switched to expensive small items like a good silver snuff box or a nice piece of jewellery. Now I mainly look for things that aren’t too heavy and that I can pack up and take to antique fairs, which I mainly do now.
Is there anything you particularly look out for just for you?
For myself? At my age I’ve stopped collecting, but I still like anything that’s of nice quality, a really good pocket watch, an early one or a lovely piece of enameled jewellery. I still love beautiful things.
How did you get into TV?
Well, I got in through David Dickinson really, who I knew for many years as we both worked as dealers. One day he got a break and made a little short program on himself on his daily work, and then he went on from there to Bargain Hunt, and from Bargain Hunt he went to Dickinson’s Real Deal onto ITV. We were doing a fair at one of the big shows, and they were actually looking for a lady to do the program. They came up and asked my wife, who was helping me, “Would you do the program?”. She said, “No, I’m not the type, but my husband might.”
They gave me a short interview in the corner of this place and then I got a letter from them saying, “Yes, you’d be a great fit. Would you come down to Bristol and do an interview?”
And the rest, as they say, is history!
I’m also extremely proud to be involved in the latest television advert for Vintage Cash Cow – I’ve been a friend of the company for a long time now, and I go back even further with one of the co-founders, Antony. It was great to be back in front of the camera – I hope you enjoy the advert!
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