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June 02, 2016, 07:54 PM

Salvo Fair Hats off to Women - Barbara Israel

By Ruby Hazael

Barbara Israel at the New York Winter Antique Show [photo © Barbara Israel - Instagram

New York, USA - Barbara Israel founded her garden antiques business in 1985, after a serendipitous purchase of a large collection of estate statuary led her down the garden antiques path. More than 20 years and hundreds of exquisite objects later, Barbara is recognised as an authority on the subject. She is a writer, consultant, board member of a Historic Society in the US and has appeared in the press and on TV numerous times. Barbara Israel Garden Antiques has been a member of the Salvo Code for 17 years. We are very lucky to have Barbara spare some precious time to answer our Hats off to Women questions this week.

Can you explain what first made you interested in antiques?
I became interested in learning about and eventually selling antiques after growing up in a part of New Jersey that had large estates some of which were decorated with figural statues in large gardens.

Did any people or places have a particular influence on your interest/love of antiques and salvage?
Both my grandmothers had a strong influence on me by having taken me and my siblings to famous local gardens and by having playing in their own gardens among their collections.

What sort of salvaged items are you most enthusiastic about?
I'm most enthusiastic about garden ornaments--beautiful statues of semi-draped women, neoclassical marble benches with backs, whimsical animals to make you smile and graphic, linear, wrought-iron Regency seats. My favourite country to buy in is Great Britain!

What made you take the next step of making a career selling garden antiques?
Making a career of antiques became entirely necessary when I impulsively bought 40 statues in one day from an estate in Long Island. No question that I wasn't 'collecting' any more!

Has being a woman working with antiques made life easier or more difficult in any way?
I've found that the world of antiques in the States and abroad is a pretty level playing field gender-wise.

Highlights or down side of working with or using reclaimed/salvage?
The downside of working with antique garden ornament is that it is perhaps some of the heaviest, yet vulnerable antique material one can deal in. However, sometimes just the challenge of moving an enormous statue gets me fired up to buy it. (See photo below- -9 ft high)

Have you any tips for other women wanting to start a garden ornament business?
Get a brilliant mover and read our Guide to Buying Antique Garden Ornament - link below.

Would you recommend any study courses or training or do you think hands on experience is the best way to learn?
In order to learn the field there is nothing better than buying and making mistakes…as one wise auctioneer said to me after his costly error, "A college education costs money!". But most helpful, early in my career in the 1980s, was pouring over the Summers Place Sotheby's catalogues to learn all the terms and language in order to write a proper description.

How do you relax and unwind?
In my spare time I play golf tournaments, photograph gardens in the UK, and, if inspired, paint watercolors in Martha's Vineyard and Barbuda.

Barbara Israel, Katonah, NY 10536 (by appointment) Tel: 212-744-6281

The Salvo Fair will be held on 18-19 June at Fawley Hill in Henley-on-Thames with Trade Day on Friday 17th June. If you would like to be involved in 'Hats off to Women' answer the same questions and send your story and photos to Salvo.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques: Guide to Buying Antique Garden Ornament
Salvo Fair 2016

Story Type:  Upcoming Event

ID: 95122

Date Modified: July 12, 2016, 02:28 PM

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