In mid-January, I heard from a reliable source that the dastardly Dudley Council is proposing to close this museum in Spring next year. For those of you who don’t know it, Broadfield is a national treasure and is, to my knowledge, the only museum dedicated to glass in the country. It’s also one of the very few public locations where pioneering exhibitions can be mounted. These have opened up new areas of research to us all – decades of invaluable exhibitions have preceded them. Most of these have relied on Broadfield’s extensive library and archive, located at the museum and its sister institution Himley Hall, where many company, designer and maker archives have been carefully preserved and made available to the public. British glassmakers had a global reputation for excellence in glass making and cutting from the early 19th century onwards. This was based in Stourbridge, where the museum is located. Broadfield not only commemorates the products made, but is also the only museum to record the valuable social and economic history related to the industry. Closing this museum would …

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Candy Says…

…buy vintage! The market for vintage clothing has boomed over the past few years, even entering the ‘mainstream’ with high street stores such as TopShop and TopMan even stocking vintage lines. We’ve certainly become a lot more ‘individual’ in our tastes for interior decoration and the way we dress. One of the best sources I have found over the past few years is the wonderful Dawn at ‘Candy Says‘. Her great eye and superb attention to detail shines out both on her website, and in the fine pieces she has chosen for her shop in Southend-on-Sea in Essex. And that’s just it – she has carefully chosen the pieces she stocks. Rather than just fill a shop and website with all manner of old rubbish, Dawn only goes for quality and style that shout out a period’s fashions. But that doesn’t mean her prices are crazy – all her clothes, which range from the 1920s-1980s, are highly affordable. Although she does have some designer names, her real skill is at finding great quality, stylish pieces that are …

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The world’s oldest jam tarts

No, not something found under a bed in a students’ halls of residence, but ancient Chinese jam tarts, buried as a tribute alongside a nobleman over 1,300 years ago. The decorative tarts (not like the ones shown here, which I have now eaten), are part of a travelling exhibition that opened at Bristol’s City Museum & Art Gallery today. After Bristol the exhibition will travel to museums in Coventry, Basingstoke, Sunderland, and then York, before closing in Manchester in 2011. Jessica Harrison Hall, the curator, noted that they were the oldest known surviving pastries in the world. It made me giggle on the tube into work this morning, especially in these times of financial doom and gloom. I wonder what Mr Kipling would think?

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Woolies Champers Update

The bottle of champagne I mentioned in my last entry has now finally sold – for £350! Congratulations Steve, I hope that you and your team have a great night out. I wonder if the lucky winner of the auction will be drinking it to toast his success? Good on him, whatever.

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I’ve just got back from the BBC where I took part in an interview for BBC Radio 5 Live about the value of the large amount of Woolworths memorabilia that has come onto the market since the sad closure of the chain at the beginning of the year. The spark that set the market alight was this bottle of champagne. Being sold by Steve Tait, erstwhile manager of the Corby branch, frenzied bidding reached a staggering £400 before the item was re-listed with a slight correction to the description. The question was – is it worth it? The only answer I can give is that it’s impossible to tell right now. However, this piece has quite a bit going for it, so may have a promising future. Much of the collectable advertising market is driven by nostalgia and big brand names. Who doesn’t remember Woolies fondly, and particularly their iconic Pic ‘N’ Mix? And if a piece shouts out about the company, or is indicative of the time it was produced in, so much the …

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Friends doing well

It’s always nice to find out that friends are doing well, especially those that you have sadly lost touch with. Reading the ‘Style’ section of the Sunday Times over breakfast this morning, I spotted a large article on my old colleague and friend Sara Covelli. Sara, and her friend Janie Tennant, have founded Covelli Tennant to use vintage and antique textiles, embroidery and lace to breathe new life into antique furniture. A range of cute and cool cushions, selected pieces of mid-century modern Italian furniture, and framed needlework pictures are also offered. English eccentricity at its best! The results are beautiful, on-trend, and display impeccable taste and witty individualism – which is just how I remember Sara herself! I worked alongside Sara in the Collectors Departments of both Bonhams and Sotheby’s, and then we also worked closely together at icollector.com in the heady days of the dotcom boom. We sadly lost touch when she moved out of London, so it’s great to read that things are going so well for her. I wish Janie …

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Retropolitan

I’ve just got back from a fruitful day’s worth of photography for the next edition of the Miller’s Collectables Price Guide. Today I travelled to West London to visit the lovely Lesley of Retropolitan. We spent a fun and interesting day together chatting about favourite items and recent trends in the market. Of course, it wasn’t all play and we kept the task at hand firmly in the front of our minds, and worked through her extensive and varied stock that includes Scandinavian pottery and glass, Whitefriars, Murano glass and West German pottery amongst much more. All of this happened to a backing track of upbeat, funky music from innovative independent record label Jalapeno Records. In my opinion, one of the best I heard was the new, and appropriately named, album ‘Antique Soul’ by Smoove & Turrell. Look them up and listen, it really is great stuff. And while you’re grooving on down, check out Lesley’s super stock by clicking here. To meet Lesley and view a special piece first-hand, visit her at the next

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Discovering Vancouver II

The next day began with a gentle walk around historic Gastown, and down to the harbour. Watching seaplanes take off and land made us curious and, before we knew it, the banker and I had booked ourselves in for a 20 minute airborn tour of the city and nearby mountains with Harbour Air Seaplanes. I’m a great fan of tiny propeller driven planes as flying feels much more exciting, fast and ‘real’ to me than a lumbering 747. Taking off and landing were surprisingly smooth, and the views over the cityscape were nothing less than breathtaking. My breath was certainly taken away by the turbulence that shook the plane around as we soared past Grouse Mountain! If you get the chance, this trip is to be recommended to get a feel for the scope and size of the city and its proximity to the beautiful mountains and inlets that surround it. Now – onto the antiques and retro stuff! After passing a public display by Dale Chihuly, I found …

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