Design & Decoration S04 ep20 : Trevor Philips, Saf Waterman, [London]
Interview with Trevor Philip
Mr Trevor Waterman is founder and chairman of the family run company and his son Saf Waterman managing director. Trevor Philip & Sons Ltd. has been at the current address since 1986 and specialises in antique globes, early scientific instruments including barometers, surveying instruments, microscopy, astronomy, navigation and time keeping, and more recently naval binoculars. Members of the British Antiques Dealers Association, the company exhibits once a year at TEFAF in Maastricht and has links with numerous international museums. Mr Waterman is a founder of the Scientific Instrument Society and the company supports various academic projects in many museums.
There’s a company my father started over 30 years ago. We’ve been dealers in scientific instruments and related objects, globes
for most of that time. And we are now totally specialists in that field.
My father actually used to sell life insurance, he decided that wasn’t the route he wanted to go anymore and he always had a
passion buying and selling antiques anyway on his private time. And in 1972 he decided to do it full-time.
In those days it was a lot easier actually. The expertise was not there on a big scale and so really you could handpick a lot of
We see a lot of people probably getting rid of cash in the bank buying objects having them at home.They know what exactly
they’ve got sitting there. It’s not hurting.
There is a small section of collectors out there which has grown. The taste has changed like they doin all fields, and you just
have to keep ahead of it.
Auctions that I used to visit with my father, I spend time in the shop with him. Just being around the objects and I enjoyed it
and he said to me “You think you might be interested in this, go and work in an auction house”, which I did for 5 years. I was at
Christie’s just to understand a little bit more about how on a big scale you can buy and sell antiques and see what happens.
This year we brought to the TEFAF [03:32]this Paldrim glass globe which was actually made and sold in 1750 to the Courtney
family and there is a receipt showing that. And it had been in that family for 260 years. It had come on to the open market in
1988. We bought it and we sold it shortly afterwards and the collector eventually decided to sell it again and we bought object
back and it’s now with us looking splendid.
We owned Captain Cooke’s sextant which they were only two ever came on the market D31, D32. They were probably the most
important historical items that the gallery has owned. Anything Cookeowns, Cooke related is very desirable and tends to fetch
world record prices every time something comes up. I couldn’t put a price now on the sextant but you’d probably be looking at
least between ¾ of £1M to maybe £1M, something like that. It’s just what anyone is prepared to pay on a day or something as
splendid as that. We sold one to the national Maritime Museum the other one is in a private museum in the United States. We
know where Cooke’s chronometers are, by Harrison they are in the Maritime Museum, so all recorded. But of the great objects
when they do come up from famous voyages fetch a lot of money.
In this fair we actually sent a very important Spanish sundial and that’s Juan Del Poso in Suvilia, the 1600s and it’s a superb
We are lucky when we bought a very famous medieval quadrant. We bought it about three years ago, it was from Canterbury.
There was a possible connection with [Geoffrey Chaucer] Chauser [05:38] that we could not unfortunately prove, but it was at
the right time in the right place. It was excavated, it came to auction and we bought it and it eventually went to the British
Museum. It was such an important thing that they had to buy it.
I think the strangest ones are probably the anatomical models that we get of all different types. We have had requests from
museums or collectors to find anatomical parts for want of a better word, which are very strange. I’ll leave that to your
imagination but those are in great detail.
We had Sylvester Stallone as a client who used to come in. In fact he was doing a movie with Danny DeVito. And when Danny
DeVito came in he had us in ruptures because he could mimic Stallone exceptionally well. So he did a complete Sylvester
Stallone for 20 minutes. When they are in town they come and look around. Sylvester Stallone is a collector, he collects nice
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Trevor Philip, Saf Waterman, London