Box House Antiques

Tales from the Trade with John Maas – A Hollywood visitor

One morning a rather scruffy, unkempt individual, looking like a homeless drug addict walked into my Pimlico Road shop. As it was approaching lunchtime and I was hungry I wondered how I was going to get him out (and back to his park bench), he was followed in by a woman who seemed to know him. When he started to recite Shakespeare I realised I had a total nutcase on my hands, not one but two, as the woman kept prompting him from an open file she was carrying. ”So sorry but I am about to close for lunch’’… I lied holding a door open.

Both were so absorbed in reciting Shakespeare that I assumed they had not heard me or were ignoring me. How was I to get rid of these two lunatics? They are even possibly ‘casing the joint’.

“I collect needlework pictures, particularly 17th-century English stumpwork’’… The strong American drawl caused me pause. ”I see you also like early needlework. I’m always looking to add to my collection”. An instantly recognisable face turned to me and said ”I’d like to buy a few of these.” We struck up a conversation as he revealed he was rehearsing for a stage performance and apologised for appearing like a tramp. ”I like to cultivate a degree of anonymity”.

Over the years he has been awarded multiple Golden Globe, Academy & BAFTA awards, amongst other numerous honours.

In time he developed into a good friend and one of my most valued clients, not only for stumpwork, but also for 17th-century English japanned furniture, contacting me faithfully on each visit to England.

Another reminder that one should not judge a book by its cover.