Fascinated by the Odeon-style glamour of Art Deco and the 1930‘s, Paul Donaldson specialises in the decorative glassware that so captured the spirit of the decade. What particularly stands out from his sparkling collection at The Old Cinema is his impressive selection of Deco cut-glass scent atomisers and dressing table sets; often bought as gifts for the unashamedly feminine -  or indeed just by those of us seeking a little decadent adornment for our boudoir or bathroom!  Decanters, tumblers, and champagne flutes are also popular gift choices, and it is still possible to pick up a set of hand-blown Edwardian wine glasses in perfect condition, for a reasonable sum.  Some pieces are endearingly quirky and guarantee a smile; such as the ‘Dalmation’ decanter, complete with ‘pup’ shot glasses.  

Trained as a dancer at an early age, by Peggy Spencer at her eponymous dance academy in south London, Paul has had his own taste of the limelight.  He was one of those selected to perform in the Beatles film; ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, which he says was huge fun; if rather chaotic.  Urged on by his enthusiastic parents, Paul even competed in the regional heats of theTV show; 'Come Dancing' but eventually realised that dancing wouldn’t pay the bills. Paul then trained as a professional chef, before going on to enjoy a long career as cabin crew with  British Airways. He retired a few years ago and whilst his dancing days are behind him, he does still enjoy cooking.  But he spends most of his time indulging his real passion - buying and selling interesting pieces of 20th Century glass.

Paul always  enjoyed frequenting junk shops,  and he particularly remembers a quirky place in a Georgian house in Brentford in the 1980’s; piled high with furniture, glass and bric-a-brac,  which opened just two days a week.  The owner would advise Paul on what to look for, and the tricky business of buying and selling. “She’d say, ‘there’s this auction in Guildford - meet me there and I’ll show you what to do’” he recalls.  He was grateful for her help: “It was a different world and it’s daunting when you start out.”   Paul then began buying and selling in earnest and was especially drawn to Art Deco, which was still fairly easy to come by, and reasonably priced; whereas now there is a much higher demand for it.

Has he ever had any exciting ‘finds’?  Paul smiles: “Well I did once come across a pair of Viennese hock glasses by Otto Prutscher at a fair;  they were in perfect condition, but not marked. I bought them for nearly nothing and ended up selling them at auction for  £3,000 at auction. I think that was my best buy.”   

Paul moved his collection up to The Old Cinema a few years ago and has never looked back.


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