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The Salvo Code

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The Salvo Code is a voluntary code for good practice in stock purchasing for dealers who buy and sell architectural salvage, antique garden ornament and reclaimed building materials. The Salvo Code aims to give customers greater confidence.

The Code flags to customers that a business has standards and gives them the choice of buying from relatively safe and responsible sources. Many dealers have already established a sensible buying procedure, but the Salvo Code makes this more formal, understandable and obvious to the buying public. It is particularly reassuring to know that items have not been stolen or removed from protected historic buildings, without permission. All Salvo Code members are immediately notified by email when a Salvo website 'Theft Alert' advert is posted which includes the crime reference number.


Each Salvo Code dealer has a Salvo Code certificate which is dated for the current year and is signed by Thornton Kay, the administrator of the Salvo Code.

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Look out for the Salvo Code crane logo used exclusively by Salvo Code businesses. Each Salvo Code dealer has a crane logo certificate which is issued annually to display in their showroom or yard and a crane logo will be displayed on their website, Salvo directory entry and on all their listings on the Salvo website. The crane was chosen because it is an ancient Chinese and European symbol for vigilance. The Chinese legend says the crane sleeps with one eye open and holds a stone which, on falling asleep with both eyes closed, it drops and wakes up - possibly because it drops the stone onto its other foot!

The Certificate

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The Salvo Code Dealer undertakes:

Not to buy any item if there is the slightest suspicion that it may be stolen.

Not to buy knowingly any item removed from listed or protected historical buildings or from sites of scheduled monuments without the appropriate legal consent.

To record the registration numbers of vehicles belonging to persons unknown to it who offer items for sale, and to ask for proof of identity.

Where possible to keep a record of the provenance of an item, including the date of manufacture, from where it came, and any previous owners.

To the best of its ability and knowledge, to sell materials free from toxic chemicals, excepting those natural to the material, traditional to its historical use, or resulting from atmospheric pollution.

Not to copy knowingly unique items made or commissioned by other Salvo Code dealers.

Where possible, and only within its ability and knowledge, to give customers the choice of buying fairly traded products.

To allow its business details to be held on a list of businesses who subscribe to the Salvo Code and to display a copy of the code and this Certificate in a public position within their business premises.

Signed by Thornton Kay, Salvo Code Administrator

Copyright Salvo Ltd © 1995 to 2024. All rights reserved.

To see the current Salvo Code dealer list - please click here.
There are 150 business who have signed up to the Salvo Code, mainly in the UK, as well as a few in North America and around Europe.


The Salvo Code started in April 1995 after a three-year consultation process by a steering group of long-established dealers, comprising of Salvo founder, Thornton Kay, Adrian Amos, Tim Seago, Charles Tolley, Nick Gifford-Mead, Rick Knapp and James Ryland, who initiated the sales of Garden Statuary at Sotheby's. They were to be joined by Simon Kirby, an antique sanitary ware specialist who went onto revive the high quality British made reproduction bathroom range of Thomas Crapper. English Heritage and the Council for the Prevention of Art Theft were also involved in the early stages. Salvo has been instrumental in forming the Code and promoting it to the Trade.

Many of the architectural salvage dealers who joined in 1995 have remained Salvo Code members such as Antique Buildings, Architectural Heritage, Dorset Reclamation, Nicholas Gifford-Mead, Olliff's Architectural Antiques, South West Reclamation and Tower Reclaim. Some of the original Salvo Code member group have either discontinued trading, changed their business or left temporarily often to return at a later date. For example, James Ryland, then at Sotheby's, went on to set up the Summers Place Auction House, now a Salvo Code member itself and the world's leading auctioneer of Garden Statuary and Natural History.

Over the past twenty years the Salvo Code membership has grown and now includes members worldwide in France, Luxembourg, Italy and the USA plus further clauses have also been added in relation to fair trade and modern slavery. The enforcement of the Salvo Code is entirely voluntary by the signee and Salvo has not visited all the businesses listed to ensure that they are carrying out the procedures and are aware of their responsibilities. Although Salvo would like to have been able to establish local monitoring groups this has so far not been possible. Salvo cannot therefore vouch for Salvo Code dealers nor their stock bu the code does encourage sensible working practices. However, in the event that it becomes clear that a Salvo dealer is not carrying out the procedures contained in the Code, Salvo will take action to remove them from the list. Thornton Kay is the current administrator of the Salvo Code. Existing Salvo Code businesses are polled and consulted to maintain standards. New Salvo Code applications are also reviewed by an advisory network of long-established Salvo Code dealers.

The Salvo Pocket Guide is a directory of Salvo Code Members given free in hard copy or in pdf format on request to renovators, designers, architects, builders and other dealers. It has also been distributed free at many shows and fairs such as Battersea Decorative, Bath Decorative, Modern Shows (Dulwich/ Haggerston), The First Edition has proved very popular and the Second Edition will be out later this year. Printed copies of the first edition have unfortunately already gone, but please let us know if you would like a pdf of the First Edition. Or you can email to reserve a free printed copy of the Second Edition with your full name and address.