Our Antiques and Fine Art tours are led by renowned expert Eric Knowles of Antiques Roadshow fame, who has worked closely with Arena over the past five years. As a recognised authority in his specialist field of ceramics, Eric is well-known throughout the world of antiques and is one of those rare individuals who is able to share his considerable knowledge in an exciting and accessible way.
Born in Nelson, Lancashire in 1953, Eric started out working in engineering but had inherited a love of antiques from his parents and moved on to a job with a firm of antique shippers in the early 1970s. From there he joined the famous London auction house Bonhams, first taking a job as a porter in their ceramics division and quickly rising to become head of the department by 1981. In recognition of his value to the firm, Eric was offered a full directorship of Bonhams in 1985.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Eric is a leading authority in several specialist fields including: European and Oriental Ceramics from the 17th to the 20th Century; the glass of Tiffany and Lalique; and 19th and 20th Century Decorative Arts. Today he is responsible for museum liaison and several of his finds can be viewed in national museums. Since January 2009 Eric has been independent of Bonhams and now offers his own valuation service.
Eric has become a regular face on TV and radio over the years and lists among his appearances The Twentieth Century Roadshow, Crimewatch UK, Selling the Family Silver, Going For A Song, The Great Antiques Hunt, The Antique Inspectors, It’s a Gift and You Can’t Take It with You. He is of course a regular on the Antiques Roadshow and is the resident antiques expert on ITV’s This Morning. In 2004 he was even a contestant on the Celebrity Mastermind Christmas Special and narrowly missed winning the trophy by 2 points!
In terms of penmanship, Eric is the author of several books on subjects such as Victoriana, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Royal Memorabilia. In 2005 he became the resident Sunday Times antiques expert, and he remains a frequent contributor to both BBC Homes and Antiques and Collect It magazines. However, his real claim to fame is that his face has been immortalised in the Eric Knowles character jug produced by Royal Doulton pottery.
Eric shares his expertise by lecturing extensively in the UK at such acclaimed institutions as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, and he has also lectured in both the USA and Canada. He is the guest lecturer at The University of Central Lancashire and at Solent University, Southampton, is a patron of several charities and is called upon to present Duke of Edinburgh Awards at both St James’ and Buckingham Palace. Eric is also a long time Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.