Founded in 1964, Adrian Alan Limited has been synonymous with fine nineteenth century antiques and spectacular exhibition pieces for nearly 60 years.
Ever since Adrian Alan purchased his first antique as a teenager, he has had an eye for quality and beauty which has helped his business grow from small beginnings in the Lanes of Brighton to become one of the leading dealers in the world.
His guiding principle has always been to buy only the best, a simple rule that has stood the company in good stead over the years, and helped it evolve to satisfy a discerning international clientele.
“It all started when I was out with my Mother and she spotted a decorative gilt jardinière in a small antique shop in Brighton. It was amongst a group of four and the owner of the shop refused to sell us the one on its own, insisting they had to be sold together. We gathered our resources and made the purchase for the remarkable sum of £12 and I was left with the mission to resell the surplus three jardinières.
In those days Brighton was full of antique shops, perhaps a hundred or so at its peak. I walked into the first shop I found in the Lanes (Brighton’s famous Antique area) with one of the jardinières and to my amazement was offered £15 for it on its own. This quick sale followed by the other two at a slightly higher price ensured the start of my new career ……. a business was born”
Adrian Alan left school in May 1964 and opened his first Antiques shop just three weeks later in June. Having already accepted a place at Kings College, London to read Physics he worked part time at the business for the first three years whilst he concluded his studies, researching and buying antiques between lectures.
His mother Muriel was enormously supportive of the young entrepreneur and looked after the shop in those early days. In fact, she carried on doing so for the next twenty five years with great success and flair, laying the groundwork for the business today.
“I had so much fun in those early days that I never doubted which way my career would go, so once I had graduated, I happily turned my back on academia and became a full time Antiques Dealer” Adrian Alan
In those early days the trade was full of eccentric and colourful characters who were happy to impart their advice and experience, and with their help and generosity, Adrian’s knowledge developed rapidly.
The timing was fortunate as the trade was entering boom times with the world opening up and jet travel cutting journey times dramatically; Adrian soon found himself perfectly placed to help satisfy a worldwide appetite for antiques and a rapidly expanding market.
“In a tradition of dealing which today seems almost antiquated in the digital age, he would drive many thousands of miles a week, eventually piloting his own light plane so that he could view several auctions a day, in Britain or aboard. It is this indefatigable energy that defines the man and this energy and enthusiasm for his subject can be seen at a glance when visiting his extensive Mayfair showrooms.” Christopher Payne
After several moves in Brighton and London to bigger and better galleries, Adrian made the decision in the early 1990’s to build upon the company’s now well-established reputation by relocating to a large gallery in the heart of London’s prestigious Mayfair district, where it remains today as a must visit destination for connoisseurs and collectors from across the world.
Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading dealers, Adrian, through important discoveries, exhibitions and publications has done much to establish today’s market in fine 19th century antiques.
The company is proud to remain the market leader today, offering the very finest antiques and exhibition pieces of furniture, and showcasing one of the largest collections of antiques available anywhere in the world.
With a growing international client base, Adrian Alan exhibits at some of the the world’s most important Art fairs including TEFAFF in Maastricht, and Masterpiece in London; offering rare and important discoveries and exceptional works of art.
A highlight was a London Exhibition recreating the celebrated ebeniste Francois Linke’s award winning stand at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.
For over forty years Adrian Alan has proudly run its own in-house restoration workshops, with many members of the team staying with the company from young boys, to grown men with families of their own. This consistency has been an integral part of the company’s success, their skills and knowledge second to none.
Today Adrian and his daughter Hayley are joined by fellow Directors, James Graham, who has managed the galley for the last 18 years; and more recently by Giles Forster, formerly head of 19th Century Furniture at Works of Art at Christie’s, London.
Whilst dealing with the past, Adrian Alan Ltd is also continually looking towards the future. The last few years has seen much change in the antique market and in the world at large. Sustainability is now an important concern and we at Adrian Alan are working hard to ensure that sustainability is at the forefront of our operations and we aim to promote antiques as a sustainable choice for furnishings and interior decor.
“We have a simple recipe, and it will not change ‘the best pieces, combined with the very best service, at the most competitive prices”. Adrian Alan