Keeping it in the family
Country Life UK|February 17, 2021
The Apter- Fredericks sale sent out the encouraging signal that 18thand 19th-century furniture is in demand again
Huon Mallalieu

TWO years ago, Apter- Fredericks, one of the capital’s leading dealers in the finest English furniture (a diminishing band), closed the Fulham Road galleries it had occupied since Alfred Fredericks founded the business in 1946. The firm, still family run, now operates entirely online (www.apter-fredericks.com), except when conditions permit the more traditional business model of participation in the Masterpiece fair in London and New York’s Winter Antiques Show. Apter-Fredericks’s pride was that a client could fully furnish a house from its stock, but the online version no longer needed the three floors in Chelsea, which led to a January sale at Christie’s.

The business has been in the hands of Harry and Guy Apter, grandsons of Alfred and born to the trade, for a good number of years. At the age of 21, their father, Bernard, wed Claire Fredericks and joined her father in A. Fredericks Chelsea. Back then, there were 14 furniture dealers cheek by jowl on the Brown Mile, as that stretch of the Fulham Road was known, and it was very much a matter of ‘pile ’em high and sell to the trade’. Later, the business courted private buyers, but, paradoxically, the success of antiques fairs—Harry was a founder of Masterpiece—made it more difficult for shopkeepers, as some overseas clients would only visit them at a fair.

In the post-war decades, there were numerous country-house contents sales around the country, if not yet on the scale reached in the 1970s, and almost every local estate agent had its own saleroom. However, Harry was seven and a half before he could persuade his father and grandfather to take him on a buying trip. He signed on full time after leaving school and has been with the firm ever since.

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