From where do we source our items? We do not go on buying trips to Asia. Nor do we actively buy from dealers or suppliers based in Asia. Almost all the items stocked by Michael Backman Ltd have been sourced from the UK – from old collections. Countless items were brought to the UK during the colonial era by colonial administrators and the like. Other items were made in Asia for export to the UK – the UK was wealthy early: it has been a major destination for the world’s exports for hundreds of years. This means that most of our items have been in the UK for at least sixty and sometimes several hundred years.
The conditions in which such items have been kept often has been very good – the UK climate is kind, and there are relatively few pests. Many items were acquired as keepsakes and curios, meaning that they stopped being used once they came to the UK. This too has helped to preserve them and so the conditions of the items that we have often are far better than if they had remained in their home countries.
Buying from old UK sources means that the items have good provenance; it helps to avoid fakes, but also items which are genuine but which might have been added to or embellished to make them more ‘commercial’. It also means that our items are obtained legally – today, most countries in Asia and Africa for example prohibit the export of their antiques. So, because of its colonial past, the UK is perhaps the world’s best source of genuine antiques from Asia and elsewhere. It is why serious collectors and museums worldwide chose to buy from us.