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This lot is subject to Collection and Storage charges
I think I first found Christopher's shop in Bourne Street as a great friend of mine lived almost next door. I am always attracted to shops where there appears to be a lot of clutter and natural confusion. Christopher clearly managed these bits very well. My approach to buying is fairly haphazard. Half the time I never know really what I am looking for except in Christopher's shop something desirable suddenly appears in front of you. I must say I was rather sad when he moved to the new ultra chic Pimlico Road. Nina Campbell and I used to have a small decorating business there almost opposite Geoffrey Bennison.
In a way Antique Shops are rather like restaurants; the grander they are the more elaborate the menu is likely to be. Christopher's shop in Pimlico Road, in spite of what I have said is a perfect location and he has managed to retain some of the charming haphazardness shared by him and Piers Westenholtz.
I wish I visited him more often; he has such a brilliant and quirky eye. I think on the whole he just buys things which just happen to appeal to his personal taste.
He is now an old friend, as always a delight to deal with and his professional reputation is without blemish.
Patsy and I lived in Pimlico, around the corner from Christopher's shop, for six years early on in our marriage. As a result we, and most particularly our children, have always regarded the area as 'home'. Over the years each and every change to the area has tended to be seen as something of a desecration! But happily the Fontana restaurant has survived, along with one or two other establishments and, miracle of miracles, years ago HOWE opened, managing to combine the very best of our memories, with exactly the things we most liked at prices we could (occasionally) afford.
We loved the fact that here was someone selling things that he responded to. There was no sense of someone merely jumping onto the latest designer bandwagon, or second-guessing a sector of some imagined 'international marketplace'. What we fell for was Christopher's enthusiasm for the type of eclectic objects and furniture that we'd always sought. A meeting of the minds would probably best explain it.
We were particularly attracted to the fact that many of the things in the shop were in exactly the same condition as when he'd found them, that he trusted his customers to use their imagination of what they might become when cleaned up, or upholstered, or even in some cases, repaired. Being allowed to be a part of the journey is as exciting as it is flattering! Over the years a number of the things that now define us and the way in which we choose to live, have entered our lives through a timely trip to Howe.
Particularly memorable is a pair of large, very beautiful, and very simple Chinese mirrors. Within months of having them, as the result of a freak accident, we came home to find one of the mirrors on the floor in a thousand pieces. Fortunately the frame was salvageable and (for once) the insurance company behaved impeccably. Christopher went into action and somehow managed to find a piece of mirrored glass of a similar age and size. It wasn't all that long before the pair was back in place and the whole incident was receding into an unpleasant memory.
For that, and much much more, thanks Christopher - you're very special!
Like the best hunter gatherer trackers of old, Christopher would leave us sleeping to make his way across London just as dawn was breaking and the first of the city starlings awakened. His love for the hunt went as far as dodging falling trees on the morning of the 1987 gale to get to Bermondsey market in the trusty Volvo. I knew he was a man with a mission, hunting down the best of the day's market spoils and on his return, over breakfast, he would surprise me with the diversity of his finds. Like the time he brought back an elegant plaster torso of a male which changed hands on the Pimlico Road three times before 11am, or perhaps an addition to the rather interesting dog collar collection.
Of course, to my dismay at our ever-diminishing space, parting with these discoveries was always a particular problem and I found endless nagging a necessity. I have always loved the way we have lived with a growing collection and a changing environment. It might not have suited everyone, as proven by our daughter Holly when, at two year's old she became obsessed with bags of all shapes and sizes cram-packed with her belongings. Everything from her favourite toys to a change of underwear! Tantrums of a fantastic volume ensued unless every bag followed her movements. Finally, we realised that her "world" was changing a little too often.
Christopher's passion is for the history, design and style of a piece, whether it's a smart Georgian bookcase or a simple painted servant's linen cupboard. He has the ability to pass on his enthusiasm when describing something, although being a naturally shy person he prefers to stay in the background. His love of the finer points he conveys with abundance but, as many will know, getting a "price" is somewhat harder as his lack of interest in the money element always leads him to forget.
So, to see it all go sparks hundreds of memories for the children and myself. To me, seeing it go on to other homes confirms the generosity of the man of whom I am very proud; there is only one Christopher Howe.