When Hugh Scully swept through the door of one our Hammersmith
watering holes the other day, not only did I spot a cracking B-list
celebrity, I also came face to face with an internet entrepreneur.
The face of The Antiques Roadshow has turned his back on the BBC to
front a website called Hugh Scully’s World of Antiques. And it’s a piece
of online brilliance.
The site has stolen the best part of Antiques Roadshow - the valuations
- and stuck it on the net. Users can send a scan of great-uncle
Charlie’s collection of 19th century erotic prints via e-mail and
receive a valuation within four days. This service was free initially
but now costs pounds 12 per valuation.
The site boasts 22 experts, including Sebastian Pearson (a keen
vibraphonist, his profile reveals).
The only question-mark hanging over the site is whether it can keep
users interested once they’ve been told their ’Ming’ vase was
manufactured in Milton Keynes in 1972. In its favour, the site is easy
to navigate and offers features that will interest antique enthusiasts.
Last week there were pieces on Windsor chairs and Mauritian stamps.
There is also a What’s On guide and an ongoing competition to ’win the
opportunity of sharing a delicious meal with Hugh’.
The site is fully owned and operated by QXL.com. There is a link to Hugh
Scully’s World of Antiques on QXL’s home page and you must register with
QXL before using the valuation service. You then have the option of
selling your antique on the auction site.
The antiques site is sold by QXL’s ad team, led by marketing director
Alex Czhakowski. There were two banner ads last week - for collectors’
site Invaluable.com and for the leisure portal ActiveLives.co.uk. More
ads will follow as the site becomes established, especially from outfits
targeting the grey sector.
There are many antiques sites on the web but Scully’s was the only one I
found to offer valuations. This service, combined with Mr Scully’s
reputation, will surely make the venture a success.