Vernon Ward, a Brief History

Foreword from Vernon: Having been in this profession for well over 50 years (now in my 70's), I have realised that time is such an illusion. we are merely custodians of items gone before us and that we also at some stage need to release or let go of our own inheritance(s) for the next generation, be it family or collectors to enjoy and appreciate.

At the tender age of 7, whilst living with his parents and sisters in a Sussex village Vernon brought his first antique which was a polyphone which he purchased for the princely sum of 3 shillings and sixpence in the local village hall which he sold soon after for 4 shillings.

By the age of twelve years old he was selling bijouterie at local fairs and by 15½ he worked on behalf of an antique export company (British Antique Exporters) which asked him to go and buy ‘Jug and Basin sets' and each one he purchased the director (the late Norman Lefton) paid him £3.00. So, Vernon trawled the shops buying up ‘Jug and Basins’ some for 30 shillings and some for £2 until there were none left in Sussex – Vernon had cornered the market in ‘Jug and Basin sets’.

Antiques were in the family bloodline, Vernon’s late grandfather, Lionel Ward, owned furniture stores in Seven Sisters Road, London (during the late 1940’s)  before moving to Sussex in the early 1960’s, where he became well known for his amazing stock of high-end/top quality works of art and antiques. At that time, he also owned a lot of shops in and around the Lanes in Brighton before retiring to Rottingdean. Vernon was often called upon by his grandfather to seek out buyers for numerous items he housed.

At 16½ Vernon walked from one end of Brighton to the other for a month seeking work before eventually landing a top job with Harris and Son Antiques of Castle Street - a three storey building containing antique furniture, grandfather clocks, ceramics, paintings, jewellery and Objet d'art etc. Soon he became the top salesman within the company which is where he really honed his craft and knowledge, and saw him fulfilling his passion. Whilst there Vernon continued to study the antique market and was also selling to buyers inhouse and from around the world for five years before moving on to Michael Harris and Sons in Prince Albert Street where he worked for a further three years selling mostly furniture and clocks from the 17th & 18th century period.

During his mid-twenties saw Vernon studying at one of the top Jewellery establishments in the heart of the Lanes in Brighton. Where he studied jewellery and gemology and valued and sold to the public and the trade alike.

By his late 20s Vernon was self employed and in 1990 he established and opened his own company Vernon Ward Antique Roadshows where he conducted his highly popular antiques valuation days from small halls to such venues as Herstmonceux Castle. During his 30 year period conducting these valuation days he is still reguarly in the press for important and unusual finds that he has unearthed (press coverage spanning 50 years). His roadshows have also see him appear on national television on numerous occasions highlighing unusual finds, more recently, he was asked by Meridian Television to discuss the recent Banksy Mural in Dover. 

Many roadshows are charity based events which has seen Vernon help raise £1000’s towards different charities and still does to this day. 

He registered the company name with BNR which he still owns 30 years on being Vernon Ward Antique Roadshows.

So from a young boy to now in his senor years Vernon spent his working life in his passion of antiques and jewellery and recently sold a rare work of art by JMW Turner and to this day he continues to regularly value and sell antiques and jewellery.

In his career spanning 50 over years, he has seen the march of time on antiques, which, especially through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s were greatly sought after, to where in today's minimalistic modern world 40-50% of antiques have sadly declined in value. The exception to the rule from Vernon’s opinion are such commodities as,  jewellery, works of art, watches, oriental ceramics, gold and diamonds, etc.

A recent Testimonal:

I first spoke with Vernon on the phone to enquire as to whether he would kindly value some pieces of silver I had inherited. I was struck by the tone and attitude of Vernon’s voice. It had a mellifluous quality and a warmth I had not expected. I had expected a weary seen it all tone of voice, considering the amount of calls Vernon must receive. Thankfully this was far from the case and I felt a rapport immediately.

Vernon very kindly suggested my wife and I visit his office on a Saturday morning. I had also included a watch with a specific complication which I did not wear any longer to the pieces for Vernon to view.

We were welcomed like old friends by Vernon and his PA Haley and instantly felt at ease with both of them.

Vernon was direct and to the point with a humour and bonhomie I thought had been lost. I had worked in the jewellery and watch business for many years and understood when I am being told a tall tale. This is where Vernon’s skill and expertise came to the fore.

Within a very short space of time, he valued the pieces we showed him, spoke of the provenance and telling us what we could expect. This is precisely what we needed to hear. As Vernon values and finds a buyer, it is in his interests to be as factual and realistic as he can. This puts the seller in a position of strength and security.

Vernon turned down my watch, suggesting quite rightly, I would not receive what I wanted for it. This is what I thought would be the case. However, he suggested a marketplace which I had not thought of and I am now in the process of advertising it on there. Extremely good advice.

We went to see Vernon, because we wanted to be told the truth, and the truth is exactly what we received with grace and humour.
Would we go back again? Absolutely. Would we recommend Vernon to others? Absolutely

Tim, Hove, Sussex -February 2022