David Fileman

David Fileman, of Fileman Antiques, Steyning, established in Brighton in the 1890s.

David Fileman

Photograph of David Fileman © Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2018.

A conversation between David Fileman and project volunteer Chris Coles, which is the twelveth in our ‘BADA Voices’ extension to the oral history project.
David Fileman began his life in the antique trade working for his father John Fileman at the age of 17, following the death of his father, in 1962.

The Fileman family business was established in Brighton, first as pawnbrokers before diversifying into the electrical engineering business in the 1890s, when Morris Fileman, David’s grandfather, trained as an electrical engineer; Morris worked on the electrification of Brighton Pier and many leading Brighton hotels in the period c.1900.  David’s father, John Fileman developed the business into one of the world’s leading dealers in antique glass, learning the trade from specialist dealers such as Arthur Churchill and Cecil Davis.

In this fascinating interview, David reflects on the history of his family business and on the changing landscape of antique dealing during the period from the 1960s until more recent times.  Fileman’s were predominantly trade antique dealers, supplying many of the leading London antique dealers with rare antique glass and specialising in antique glass chandeliers, and David reveals intriguing professional insights in such trade-to-trade practices, as well as on a wide range of other observations on antique dealers’ marketing and display parctices. Our interview with David continues our oral history archives and makes a very significant contribution towards our understanding of the antique business in the regions during the second half of the 20th century.