Our Director

An early interest in the Ancient and Medieval World led Chris Martin into the world of numismatics and archaeology. Under the tutelage of the great Dr Colin Kraay of the Ashmolean Museum and the Art lover Dr Eva Frommer, he entered the world of collecting at a very young age. Funding his own collection through trading in ancient coins, he founded the company in 1971 and has been dealing in the antiquities and numismatic business ever since. He has handled enormous numbers of coins and antiquities, enabling him to lead at the forefront of the industry. Chris is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Antiquities Dealers Association (ADA) and Chairman of the British Numismatic Trade Association (BNTA). He has also been appointed by the Culture Secretary to sit on the Treasure Valuation Committee for a five year term, starting in 2016. Ancient Art previously collaborated with Fortnum and Mason, the world renowned luxury department store in Piccadilly, for many years and organised over 15 exhibitions based on the Ancient World. From his businesses and passions, Chris has helped tens of thousands of people to realise the possibility of owning a piece of the past. He has been proud to nurture many of these first time buyers to become the collectors of the future.

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Our Staff

Francesca joined Ancient Art in 2017. She manages the gallery and the website. She is the first point of contact for any enquiries, as well as facilitating in the research and cataloguing of our antiquities. Francesca specialises in Classical Art, Archaeology and European Art of the 14th-18th centuries. She completed her Art History studies with a Postgraduate degree at the Sapienza University in Rome, with a thesis focused on the Collection of Venetian Materpieces in 17th century Rome. Prior to this, she undertook a graduate degree at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, after spending six months studying French Art History at the Francois Rabelais University in Tours. She is also competent in the translation of Ancient Greek and Latin. Previous work experiences include working as a fine art guide in various museums in Italy and London, and freelance copywriting for Italian art magazines.

Authenticity & Provenance

As one of the most renowned antiquities traders in London, St. James’s Ancient Art has been actively dealing in ancient artefacts and coins for over 40 years. One of our core missions here at St. James’s Ancient Art is to sell antiquities at affordable prices, with all items unconditionally guaranteed authentic, as each item sold is provided with a certificate of authenticity. Owning Director Chris Martin actively serves as chairman of the Antiquities’ Dealer’s Association (ADA) and the British Numismatic Trade Association (BNTA), in addition to being a member of LAPADA and CINOA, Ancient Art, thus, abides by the strict standards set within their codes of conduct. From February 2016 he has also been appointed to serve in the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Do Antiquities Belong in a Museum?

As the leading purveyor and carrier of the largest stock of ancient artefacts and coins within the UK, we are often asked questions about the provenance of our artefacts and whether their true place should instead be inside a museum, where they could be enjoyed by the public, and so forth. To which we answer that the vast majority of our items are not rarities and we try to ensure that they will be affordable to everybody who wishes to purchase an ancient art piece. We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own a piece of antiquity, provided that the artefacts are sufficiently common and are neither of any national value nor should legitimately be within a museum environment.

Straordinary Pieces of Everyday Life

Priceless Greek vases and marble friezes are not the sole representations of antiquities and Ancient Art, which also includes items that were used as part of everyday life by ancient civilisations, and which provide an essential insight on what life was like in antiquity. For example, the Roman terracotta oil lamps, extremely widespread and used and disposed of in much the same way as the modern light bulb today, or beautiful pieces of Greek and Roman gold jewellery, still fully wearable and appreciated today, or timeless creations of Oriental pottery, such as tea sets or vases. These ‘everyday items’ often lack the lustre desired by collectors of more refined antiquities and are surplus to the already overstretched museums, but are very precious in their own right, as they encapsulate so much more that the mere material qualities they possess. They tell a story, which we believe is very valuable, and they, as witnesses, invite us to be part of it.

Preserve and Understand our Heritage

One questions pops to mind and is inevitable in such a trade – will stocks run out? Yes. Of course there is a limited supply of antiquities in circulation, which is why the stock is ever changing as new pieces and collections arrive on the market. Another key aspect we keep at the heart of our mission through the sale of antiquities is the aim to increase public awareness regarding these delicate artefacts and the promotion of the aims of conservationists. We donate money from our sales to museums and charities to help encourage, preserve and understand our heritage