Helios Gallery

 
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Leading online dealers in Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Mediterranean antiquities.

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About Us

      

 

 

Helios Gallery is a partnership owned by Rolf von Kiaer and Samantha Neal.

 

The Background

 of Helios Gallery

We started trading in antiquities in 1989 but it was not until 1994 that we opened a shop at 292 Westbourne Grove in London's Notting Hill. At the time the area was vibrant, arty and bohemian but it was only a couple of miles from the established antiques galleries of Mayfair and St. James' and seemed an eternity from their somewhat stuffy traditions.

During eleven years in Westbourne Grove we built a reputation for honest, no-nonsense dealing in a relaxed atmosphere where novices, collectors, artists and academics could meet over a cup of coffee. The shop received acclaim from a wide range of publications including The Financial Times and World of Interiors but our finest achievement must be that many of our first clients still buy from us today.


The 1990's also saw the opening of a smaller outlet in the World Heritage Site city of Bath and the launch of our first website. By 2005 Helios Gallery had been established on the internet for nine years and we decided it was time to become a totally web-based dealership.

This transition freed us from the financial and time constraints of shop-keeping and allowed us to return to our founding interests: the thrill of acquiring and researching new stock, and bringing the items to a clientele from all walks of life who share our interests.


 

The Partners

 

Sam's fascination with archaeology and anthropology derives from a childhood spent in Africa and South East Asia. Her main interest is in Pre-Classical Mediterranean pottery which she seeks to understand by conventional research as well as more hands-on methods such as recreating ancient techniques in contemporary pottery-making.

Sam built and runs the Helios Gallery website, she is also the resident internet and graphic designer, photographer and administrator.

Sam on a recent trip to Marrakech


 

 

Rolf's interest in archaeology was stirred at the age of just six when he swapped his pocket money for ancient coins with an antiques dealer on the King's Road in London.

When his diplomat parents moved to Baghdad in the late 1970's the vibrant history and culture of the Middle East awakened an overwhelming interest in the region. By the age of eighteen Rolf had learnt to read Arabic and left school with the top prize in Classics and a place to study Mesopotamian archaeology at The Institute of Archaeology, London.

 

Rolf at the Acropolis, Athens


It was during archaeology studies in London that Rolf and Sam met. Sam's redundancy from a job a year later led them to think of starting a small business and so Helios Gallery was born. The business started on a cold dark April morning with a folding table in London's Portobello Road antiques market.

 

 

The Ethos

 of Helios Gallery

How do we buy our stock?

We buy items which emerge from old collections, primarily in Britain but also Northern Europe and North America. We do this through an extensive network of general antiques and art dealers, auctioneers, inheritance and probate lawyers, and the occasional contact from a member of the public.

We buy items which have a provenance, meaning they have a collection history, ideally proving they were not excavated or removed from a source country in recent years.

We pay a premium for older or more interesting provenances and we refuse to buy items which we suspect may have been illegally excavated or exported.

We believe that knowingly buying artifacts which were recently looted from archaeological sites  is comparable to trading in poached ivory and claiming to admire elephants: the process is incompatible to anyone who genuinely cares about our global cultural heritage.

Research is vital to this process but so is common sense, this is why our website does not contain pages of Indus Valley pots, Mesopotamian tablets and seals, or impressive South Italian vases with dubious or obfuscatory background details.


How do we research and authenticate our stock?

We rely on decades of experience, archaeological training, an extensive library and study collection, but also on independent consultants who are often top academics specialising a very narrow field of study.

We listen and learn rather than claiming to know everything. Sometimes less than a minute is needed to identify, value and authenticate an object; on other occasions we may keep an item for several years before gaining sufficient information to make an intelligent assessment. The process can be laborious but mistakes can harm a reputation which has taken decades to build.

Why buy from Helios Gallery?

Before buying from any website we recommend that you check their reputation and claims independently, please visit our collecting antiquities page for further advice.

We offer the highest possible standards of customer care, we source our stock in a responsible and ethical manner, and we try to offer items which are interesting and special at all price levels.

We do not exaggerate our descriptions, we do not take photographs with enhanced contrasts and colours and we do not employ gimmicks or hyperbole to entice buyers.

We treat a sale as part of an on-going relationship with an individual. Honesty, integrity and a good rapport with our clients is how we maintain our reputation.

We have built a business with over one thousand registered clients ranging from school kids to professors, casual buyers to institutional collectors and museum curators. If you do not know us already but like what you see on our website we hope you will get in touch or perhaps make a small purchase and see if it lives up to your expectations.

Rolf and Sam

 
 
   

Minerva (Minnie) 2000 - 2016

 

 

 

 

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