‘Brown’ Furniture makes a comeback?

As some of you will know, one of the many hats I wear is that of ‘Head of Miller’s Online’, running the new Miller’s website at www.millersguides.com. As part of this exciting and growing free site, we have set up some interesting public polls, one of which asks whether traditional brown furniture is making a comeback. A total of 71% of voters think it has already, or will very soon. This is made up of 42% of voters who said that it already had, and 29% who said that it will soon. On the negative side, 21% said that it hasn’t at all, and a pathetic 8% said that they don’t like it. I’m sure you’ll agree that these are interesting results. I just can’t help feeling that the majority are right, and speaking to some of my auctioneer friends confirms this. They’re seeing tangible results of this opinion in salerooms across the country and, indeed, the globe. My advice? Get to your nearest local auction room as quickly as your legs will carry you! The bargain prices seen …

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13th Cambridge Glass Fair

It may have been the 13th Cambridge Glass Fair, but the only people who were unlucky were those who didn’t visit! But there can’t have been many of them, as this fair was amongst the very busiest I have attended – and I’ve been going since the first. The queue began to build an hour before the opening, and from the moment the doors opened until they closed, the aisles were crammed with buyers and browsers, with the door even running out of tickets after lunch! They crossed the country to see some 50+ specialist dealers selling pieces from ‘over 200 years of glass’ history and, judging by the number of bags seen leaving the hall, they liked what they saw. Attending these events is always enjoyable for many reasons, one of them being to catch up with friends. James Bassam, 20thC Design specialist at auction house T.W. Gaze & Sons, was one, and he echoed the impression I was rapidly building. Despite the truly awful economic climate, …

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BBC Antiques Roadshow 2009

This year’s dates for the Antiques Roadshow have now been published, and are listed below. Those in bold are the events I will be attending as a specialist on the Miscellaneous or Collectables tables. Dig out your treasures and I hope to see you there!

Thursday 19 March – Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Wednesday 25 March – Hopetoun House, Queensferry, Scotland Friday 3 April – Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Lancashire Thursday 23 April – Bath Assembly Rooms, Somerset Thursday 14 May – Stanway House, Gloucestershire Thursday 21 May – Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire Sunday 31 May – Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey Tuesday 9 June – Saumarez Park, Guernsey Friday 12 June – Samarès Manor, Jersey Thursday 2 July – Abbotsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire Sunday 12 July – Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire Thursday 16 July – Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire Thursday 27 August – The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham Thursday 3 September – Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, Yorkshire Thursday 10 September – Somerleyton Hall, Lowestoft, Suffolk Thursday 17 September – Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge, Shropshire Thursday 1 October – Old Royal …

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Radio Waves

They say radio is growing in popularity, and it’s certainly been an increasing part of my life recently, with three interviews in the past two weeks! Up today was BBC radio Cambridgeshire, with another phone-in valuation that also helped promote the excellent Cambridge Glass Fair this Sunday, at Chilford Hall. Here I am in the studio with my trusty companion – my Miller’s Collectables Price Guide. I was lucky to be joined by eminent Lalique and Art Nouveau glass expert and dealer Mike Moir, who makes the perfect accomplice. Along with cheery presenter Sue Dougan, the banter, information and valuations just flowed out. Callers rang in with everything ranging from an Art Deco opalescent vase, which will be brought to the fair for proper appraisal, to a 19thC chemist’s carboy bottle, to a 19thC gilded and cut rummer, and a Mary Gregory type bud vase. Values ranged from £30 up to over £500! If you missed the phone-in, don’t miss the event itself. It’s undoubtedly one of the best fairs in the country, with an enormously …

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BBC Radio London

I’ve just got back from an extremely enjoyable one-and-a-half hour long phone-in valuation for BBC Radio London. Hosted by the lovely Lesley Joseph, I was invited along as a guest with my friend Tracy Martin. Lesley is best known for her character Dorian in hit BBC TV sitcom ‘Birds of a Feather’ but, unlike her snobbish TV character, her natural, funny and friendly charm just beams out over the airwaves. The lofts and drawers of London’s residents certainly didn’t disappoint this morning. Items listeners called in about included a boxed Parker 51 pen and pencil set valued at £50-70, a set of six late 19thC Coalport handpainted cup and saucers valued at around £30 each, an Edison phonograph valued at over £200, and a set of Royal Doulton ‘Snowman’ figurines that could fetch up to £800!

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Alfie's Antiques Market

With things a little tighter for most of us this year, it’s great to find a place where we can still feed our addictions without breaking the bank. That place is certainly Alfie’s Antiques Market in north west London, where I have just spent an extremely enjoyable and fruitful two days. Whatever it is that you collect, you’re bound to find it here. In fact, I challenge you to browse without being tempted. The first point of call has to be Beth Adams, on the ground floor, slap-bang in the middle of the Church Street facade. Her panoramic windows are packed with an colourful variety of quality stock from jazzy Art Deco ceramics, to 1930s chintzware and nursery ware, to gorgeous 20thC glass, and more traditional ceramics. Beth’s prices are nothing if not reasonable and fair, which explains why her stand is always so busy, with plenty of new treasures to see each time. (Below, from left: Beverley, Mark & Beth) Next stop has to be her mother, Beverley, …

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Frantisek Zemek’s Glass Designs

Now there’s a name you don’t hear every day. But it is one that you might hear more of in the future. Frantisek Zemek (1913-60) is arguably one of the lost great names in 20th century glass design, and was key to the development of hot-worked glass in Czechoslovakia. Starting his career as a glass cutter for the Inwald group, he went on to study at the Zelezny Brod glass school, and then under the renowned Professor Karel Stipl. He worked at the Chrìbska factory in 1949, followed by the Zelezny Brod factory from 1952-57. He was also concurrently the head designer for the Mstisov factory from 1956-59. His early death in a motorcycle accident in 1960 cut off what looked to be a promising career, given his influence in the 1950s. His most notable designs produced on a large scale were the multi-coloured ‘Rhapsody’ of 1956 & 60, and the green and blue ‘Harmony’ of 1959, but he also produced cut designs for Moser, and pressed designs for Hermanova. All were exported across the world. Today, his work is …

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Alexandra Palace Collectors’ Fair

It’s true – one of the greatest antique and collectables events in the South of England has returned. Early last year, long-standing event organiser Pig & Whistle held the last of their immensely popular fairs at historic Alexandra Palace in London. With the venue looking set to become a casino, it was curtains for this fantastic day-long event. Later in the year, Nelson Fairs announced that they had come to an agreement with the owners and the fair would start again. I missed the first two as I was (annoyingly) travelling on business, but made it to the third event, held today. And I was not disappointed – it’s everything it used to be and more! Over 600 dealers pack the main hall, offering everything from furniture to ceramics, glass, advertising memorabilia from Victorian to Vintage – and much, much more. I spent – literally – hours and hours browsing the stands, buying big-time. Although the collecting market has been hit pretty hard by the credit crunch, you couldn’t …

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