Antiques at the Holt
Antiques at the Holt
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Antiques at the Holt
Antiques at the Holt

Charlie Ross @ The Holt

The organisers of Antiques@TheHolt were delighted that BBC TV’s Charlie Ross agreed to ‘do the honours’ and officially open the second fair at The Holt hotel in March 2014.

Charlie is perhaps best known as the jovial face of popular BBC TV antiques programmes such as Bargain Hunt, Flog it! and The Antiques Road Trip. While his appearances on television have made him a familiar household name – at least to anyone with even a passing interest in antiques – this is just the tip of the iceberg in his repertoire of talents.

As a youngster Charlie had his sights set on becoming a dentist, but ended up leaving school to join a company of chartered surveyors and selling chickens at Buckingham Cattle Market. He was a natural with a gavel and decided to make it his career. He progressed through poultry and livestock until he was sitting at the rostrum in front of a saleroom full of antique furniture. He’d discovered his passion, and in 1982 he established his own company; Charles Ross Fine Art Auctioneers, based in Woburn.

Driven by his boundless enthusiasm the company flourished, and so did Charlie. He honed his flair for selling antiquities and established a reputation as one of the UK’s most experienced and charismatic auctioneers. His reputation attracted the attention of the BBC, who came to Woburn to film at his auction house. A screen test followed and a star was born. After 25 years at the helm Charlie sold Charles Ross Auctioneers and went freelance.

Charlie Ross  

Since then he has conducted sales not only for some of world’s the top auction houses, including MacDougall’s and Gooding & Co in America, but has also raised many millions of pounds for charities such as The Variety Club of Great Britain, The Lord’s Taverners and the Elton John Aids Foundation. In the process he has set a few records, including the highest auction price ever paid for a car in America of over $16 million (for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa) and $15 million for a catalogue of Jimi Hendrix songs.

More down to earth and closer to home, in 2012 Charlie set a record for an item sold on BBC TV’s The Antiques Road Trip, buying a damaged Staffordshire figure of an elephant for £8 and selling it for a staggering £2700. The ceramic was purchased by an American antiques expert, Myrna Schkolne. “It was an Antiques Road Trip record*, but what I didn’t realise until later was the buyer had spent 25 years searching for this item,” admitted Charlie. Mind you, it takes two bidders to set a record, so the rarity of this particular piece must have been appreciated by more than just Myrna Schkolne!

Charlie Ross and the Elephant

Auctioneering and antiques aside, Charlie is an accomplished amateur actor and operatic singer, being a member of the Bicester Choral & Operatic Society, Akeman Voices and the Oxford Operatic Society. Starring roles in My Fair Lady (as Professor Higgins), The Magic Lamp (as Widow Wonkey) and The Mikado have followed. Charlie is also a keen follower of cricket.

Charlie lives locally, and was a natural choice when we were looking for someone special to open the fair. He was booked up when we had our inaugural Antiques@TheHolt in November 2013, but we’re over the moon that he agreed to cut the ribbon on our second.

Charlie Ross opened the Antiques@TheHolt fair on the Saturday morning, March 15th, at 10:00 am, and attracted a lengthy queue of visitors. He stayed for over three hours, chatting to dealers and fair-goers alike, and even making a few select purchases. He continues to be a regular visitor to the fair, and usually manages to fit in a few hours on either the Saturday or the Sunday. Thanks Charlie!

Click this link to hear the story of that elephant: Road Trip Video Extract.

*Update - In September 2016 Charlie's fantastic record was bettered by Anita Manning, who purchased a bronze figure of a Buddha from a shop in Sandwich for £50. At auction, the piece sold for a staggering £3800. However, Charlie's profit margin, based upon his £8 purchase price, still remains the target to beat!