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Dave Aronson was Europe’s leading expert on Delft earthenware. With its blue-and-white pattern it is reckoned to be the oldest in Europe, going back to the 16th century and predating Sèvres, Meissen and Wedgwood porcelain.

Aronson did not undergo any formal training to acquire his world-class expertise, but imbibed it from his parents, Ab and Noen, who rebuilt the family’s Amsterdam antiques firm, Aronson Antiquairs, from scratch after the war. With energy and enthusiasm they rapidly regained its world reputation in the field of Delft earthenware, and l7th and l8th century European furniture.

Given its importance, the firm is remarkably small, having only three full-time employees. It was started in l881 by Leon Aronson in Arnhem. It then moved to Amsterdam and soon established a national and then an international reputation in its specialised field.

During the Second World War the Nazi occupiers stripped Aronson’s grand- parents of their ownership and sent them to Auschwitz where they were killed. An “administrator” was put in to sell off the stock and close down the business. Aronson’s parents fled to a village near Amsterdam and, helped by non-Jewish “angels” who risked their lives to hide them, survived the occupation.

Once the German Army was driven out of the Netherlands by the Allies, the Aronsons returned to rebuild the family firm and gave it a motto: “Profit is fine, but a love of antiques has more shine.”

Their son Dave, named after his murdered grandfather, was born a year after the war and from childhood not merely accepted his destiny but revelled in it. He spent a year’s apprenticeship in London with a Knightsbridge antiques dealer and at the age of 21 was back in Amsterdam to enter the family firm.

He rapidly developed a wider vision and became active in the European Fine Art Foundation, which runs the important European antiques fair in Maastricht in March each year. For the past eight years he was its chairman, and took a leading management role also in pAn Amsterdam, an annual fair in the Dutch capital.

In a crowded and fiercely competitive trade, Aronson was not only respected but also trusted and widely liked for his knack of combining fairness and a decisive, no-nonsense manner with charm and personal warmth.

Aronson is survived by his wife, Irene, their daughter and son Robert, who now runs the business.

Dave Aronson, antiques dealer, was born on May 16, 1946. He died of heart failure on January 5, 2007, aged 60

The Times

January 22nd, 2007

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