London-based NICHOLAS WELLS ANTIQUES sells its antique furniture and artworks solely online. Owner Nicholas Wells shares with EAL his insights into the changing antiques landscape and the many digital options available to interior designers, drawing one particularly promising conclusion: “It is again fun to collect!”

Behind the business: online with British antiques dealer Nicholas Wells

A Matched Pair of Ebonised Viennese Settees, available at Nicholas Wells Antiques

What are some of the benefits you offer to designers? How do you develop relationships with them?
We, too, focus primarily on high-end interior designers. Since 1998, I have established many contacts and friendships. Working on these connections and word of mouth, we are quickly making progress in the interior design market. We also exhibit at the OLYMPIA ART & ANTIQUES FAIR in London, where we have made a number of very useful international interior designer contacts. Presently, our most active social network is Instagram, through which we have initiated several meetings with designers, discovered antique dealers and even found employees.

I work closely with interior design clients; for instance, an interior designer was looking for a pair of antique Regency convex mirrors for a project in Manhattan. The client 
wanted something simple and elegant within a reasonable budget. There are not 
many pairs of convex mirrors on the market, but I had a private client who has proven 
to be a great source of exceptional things and was interested in selling a pair that he had; unfortunately, at some point, they had been stripped and painted in white. The decorator’s vision was to revert to the period look and re-gild them. I was able to suggest several gilders who were able to do the work for a sensible cost. The final result was outstanding and very much to the client’s satisfaction.

My unique offering is a source of over 600 high-end antiques, which are ready to place in interiors and with highly detailed, honest photographs from multiple angles. We offer a reliable and fast, full-circle international service for which we oversee the sale from the purchase to final delivery either by FedEx or fine art shippers. To help ensure ease of contact for our clients, we have offices on Regent Street, London, and now a new office just opened on Madison Avenue, New York.

Behind the business: online with British antiques dealer Nicholas Wells

Pair of Italian tole painted and gilt mirrors


What are the unique benefits of being solely digital? What are the downsides or challenges? 
I’ve been privileged to work at MALLETT in London and New York, at one time the most exclusive antique shop in the world. There is no denying that a shop offers fantastic access for clients, but it also involves huge overheads and significant manpower and time to run.

Being solely internet based and focusing all of our efforts to enhance our international SEO means I can reach a global audience without being tied down to the day-to-day running of a shop. Antique dealing is about personal connections with my clients, sourcing the right piece, placing it with the right client and assisting the process through to the final delivery. Being solely online, I am much freer to manage these relationships and build deeper connections and even long-term friendships.

Behind the business: online with British antiques dealer Nicholas Wells

Pair of Louis XV Ormolu wall lights / appliqués