Giovanni Morales: An antique dealer with Italian flair and Norfolk style

An antique dealer's dealer with an incredible eye for quality, Giovanni Morales, has died aged 66 at the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston.

He had an amazing ability to detect, even from a distance, that a picture, a piece of furniture, ceramics or jewellery was 'right.'

Born in Sicily, he settled in the Great Yarmouth area in the late 1960s and was always looking for a bargain. In the antiques' community in Norfolk and Suffolk, he was respected as an itinerant trader and not as a more normal shop keeper.

Giovanni Battista Morales, who was known as John, worked extremely hard and would be at a car boot sale by 6am – an hour later and the bargains had gone, he always maintained. Then, he would visit an auction or see a few traders to get that next piece.

Having learned his skill as a carpenter in Turin, he brought his Italian flair to Ipswich, where he worked in a furniture factory and then became more interested in cabinet making and the restoration of furniture.

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A friend in the trade for 35 years, EDP columnist Mike Hicks, of Stalham, said that he had 'this amazing ability to sense what was good, really good.'

'He worked tirelessly to keep all his customers happy, he was a breath of fresh air, a bright shining light in anybody's day. He loved to argue and bargain, possibly, this was something that was inherent in his character brought over from his native Sicily.'

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'He was able to detect, to notice and relate to anything of quality, it was an in-built detector that he seemed to have, even from a distance of many feet away, he would know quality instantly, be it a piece of jewellery, ceramics, furniture or paintings.'

A dealer to his core, he was not devoid of humour and was always extremely courteous. He loved sport and football, especially following his beloved Italy. A fan of motor racing, especially Ferrari, naturally but he would support an English driver as well.

He enjoyed squash and tennis too.

'Sicily has lost a great son, his family have lost their figurehead and we, his friends, have lost a great character, the like of which, I know we shall never see again. Arrivederci Giovanni,' said Mr Hicks.

He leaves a widow, Elizabeth. They had two children, Anna and Luke, and four grandchildren.

A funeral, which was attended by several hundred friends and business colleagues, has taken place at Colney Wood, near Norwich.

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