Derek & Valerie Roberts started their antiques business in Tonbridge in 1968 when stock was plentiful and there was no VAT or Buyers Premium. Initially they dealt in general antiques but within a year were specialising in clocks, for which, in due course, they gained an international reputation, supplying museums and major collectors as well as people who just wanted a fine clock for their home. In the early days they exhibited at local fairs and then progressed to more major exhibitions such as that at Burlington House. They became members of The British Antique Dealers Association in 1974 and in 1977 Derek became free of The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. Some two years later he was invited to become a Liveryman.
A partnership was formed with John Martin in 1976 for the production of precision pendulum clocks and by the time production had ceased in 1999, thirty- eight such clocks had been made.
Dereks’ first horological book, ‘British Skeleton Clocks’, was published in 1987 and was accompanied by an exhibition and catalogue on the subject. Continental & American Skeleton Clocks came out some two years later and was followed by British Longcase Clocks in 1990.
Carriage and other Travelling Clocks was published in 1993, by which time the extensive use of illustrations in colour had become a practical proposition allowing these attractive clocks to be displayed to their full beauty. This book was followed by one on Mystery, Novelty & Fantasy Clocks, a subject close to the authors’ heart, in which the art of the clockmaker is displayed to its’ fullest extent.
Collecting all the material for the three volumes on Precision Pendulum Clocks, which is at the heart of horology, took the best part of thirty years and was finally published in 2003-4. It was then that Derek & Valerie decided to retire from their main business and were pleased to find in Paul Archard someone who had the requisite knowledge and experience and was willing to carry on the business, including the regular holding of exhibitions with accompanying catalogues, something that had been started many years before.
Today Derek & Valerie continue to trade and advise clients, albeit on a much smaller scale, from “The Edenbridge Galleries” in Kent, which is open from 9.30 -5.30 on weekdays and 10-4.30 on Saturdays. Derek is usually in attendance on Saturday mornings or by appointment. Throughout their career they have handled a very wide range of clocks, many of considerable rarity and often complexity and have assisted in the formation of several fine collections. Some of the more interesting clocks they have handled may be seen in our final book - ‘A Life With Antique Clocks.’