Box House Antiques

Tales from the Trade with John Maas – Dealings with a WWII Spitfire Fighter Pilot

A message from John:

It never ceases to amaze me that new discoveries can be made almost every day when you cover an area as extensive as we do: Cornwall to N. Scotland. This is the fascinating side of being an antiques dealer as you never quite know what is around the next corner.

One day back in 1969 I was called in to value… “I think this is an old French table”. Having driven for miles trying to locate the tiny remote farm cottage, I eventually arrived to be welcomed by the owner who turned out to be a very famous ex WWII Spitfire fighter pilot. I promised to keep his identity private. We have always made it our company policy to respect privacy.

Initially I was more interested in the stories of deadly aerial combat in his legendary Supermarine Spitfire at the time I was born – August 19th, 1940 – Bang in the middle of the Battle of Britain. At the time of my visit to examine the table only 30 years had passed.

After tea and biscuits I was reminded of the purpose of my visit… to be shown a writing/ dressing table which at once I recognised as Louis XVl and a highly significant discovery. Although in ‘as found’ condition, certainly a significant find.

“I need funds to replace my old car, if you can come up with a reasonable offer the table is yours”. The table did not last long in my care, to be sold on to the USA for what was a good day’s work. Seller and particularly the buyer being more than well satisfied.

I had virtually taken the table apart in a frantic effort to find a stamp. After an hour I gave up in the hope the next owner would have better luck. I later learned that my mentor, the well-known Bath dealer Monty Sainsbury had discovered a French cabinet with lacquer panels and ormolu mounts which eventually revealed the incised stamp of Adam Weisweiler. Monty had offered a ten pound note to his shop assistant if he found a signature. This cabinet may well have had a similar WWII fighter pilot’s provenance?

I can’t promise you’ll find a Weisweiler cabinet at but you never know…

No matter what, our team will welcome you.