A tribute to my wonderful wife
by Joachim Mendes
Betty Mendes has made a huge contribution to the promotion of antique lace in her lifetime, including an exhibition at Hove Museum: Amazing lace from 1630 to 1930.
Betty was born on 4th November 1927 in Epsom, England. In 1946, at the young age of 19 she journeyed to France with a delegation of British diplomats to re-open the British embassy in Paris following the war. During her time at the embassy she travelled by air and sea to and from England on many occasions, including crossing the channel in a De Havilland Mosquito and (possibly) a Lancaster. She always had an eye for glamour and beautiful things and would cause quite a stir with her latest Paris fashions when visiting family and friends in England. She met her first husband whilst still working at the embassy and they had four wonderful children. Betty continued to live in France with her family and developed her love of all things beautiful and elegant.
I first met Betty in 1969 and we came to England together in 1973 where we were married. In 1975 we established our first business dealing in antiques. As the business developed, our love for antique needlework became a key aspect of our work. We had never given much thought about antique lace until someone brought two lengths of 18th century bobbin lace to our shop. We where both astonished at the detail and work involved in making such items. We fell in love thoroughly with lace as we began our journey of study and discovery.
Over the 43 years our business has been established Betty and I have had many adventures. We have travelled the length and breadth of the UK and Europe searching for beautiful lace, textiles, costume and fans. We have sat in freezing auction rooms and delved through many tea chests and boxes. I have very fond memories of travelling to antiques fairs, our sandwiches packed the night before, the car filled to the brim with treasures and a grim determination that we would sell everything.
Betty's love of lace and costume and my love of textiles and fans has allowed us to set up this website which has been established since 1998 and is still one of the oldest continuously running websites on the internet, a thing we have been very proud of. The website has given us the opportunity to attract customers from all over the world and Betty would often be pleasantly surprised that people from Japan, America, Europe and many other places would be interested in our website and would want to buy from us. Betty and I have sold items to people including museums, private collectors and anyone with a love of beautiful lace, textiles and fans
Betty's love of lace continued even when she could no longer attend antique fairs and auctions due to failing health. She would work at home, lovingly cleaning and preparing items for me to take to fairs. She would wait expectantly to see me and eagerly discuss everything.
Betty sadly passed away on the 4th April 2018. She has been my love, my best friend and partner in life and in business.