BBC Antiques Roadshow at Hopetoun House

I’ve just got back from the glorious and spectacular Hopetoun House, outside Edinburgh, which was Wednesday’s location for the Antiques Roadshow. Billed as ‘Scotland’s Finest Stately Home’, it certainly didn’t disappoint, although I’ve always been a sucker for anything with a long gravel drive, Classical columns and a garden with a ha-ha. Arguably even better than the house were the people. Peering out through the window shortly before our 8.30am safety briefing, the queue had already begun to stretch from one side of the house to the other. And it remained like that for most of this beautifully sunny day – Edinburgh’s antiques and collectables hunters and fans turned out in their droves. By the end of a challenging but highly enjoyable day, every single person had seen an expert, and many went home grinning broadly and clutching their bags just a little bit tighter. Amongst the many items I saw, was a collection of ‘The Broons’ and ‘Oor Wullie’ comic books in truly mint condition, a …

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Last month I was delighted to be asked by BBC Homes & Antiques magazine to write an article on postwar Czech glass design, a hot collecting area also known to collectors as ‘sklo’. The magazine’s photographers have really excelled themselves, and you’ll find a lavishly illustrated seven page article packed with useful information and tips. Not only that, as you can also read superb articles by Paul Atterbury on the illustrator Eric Gill, Jon Baddeley on Peter Beard’s studio ceramics, Will Farmer on early 19thC card tables, and much more from the Antiques Roadshow. All for the princely sum of £3.60. Now, if that isn’t a bargain, I don’t know what is!

 

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Market Intelligence – Fat Lava

It’s done! I’m delighted to announce that the second, revised and expanded, edition of my ground-breaking and sell-out bookalogue ‘Fat Lava: West German Ceramics of the 1960s & 70s‘ is now at the printers. Phew. Since the first edition went out of print, demand for copies has been consistently high, leading to the decision to revise and reprint. Some ‘inside intelligence’ now. Graham Cooley, my friend and owner of the collection shown in the first exhibition, was at the Kempton Park Antiques Fair earlier this week, and met up with a number of his German dealer contacts with a view to buy. All said that the supply in Germany has completely dried out. Nevertheless, demand is still rising, meaning that prices are increasing quicker and higher than ever. My advice? If you like it, get in there now, before it’s too late and prices rise too far. The second edition of my catalogue will be available from mid-May, and will be launched at a second Fat Lava exhibition to be held at Mid20C from Saturday 30th May. …

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Yves Saint Laurent Auction

I had to read the price twice. Then a third time, just to make sure. Yes, Eileen Gray’s Art Deco ‘Dragons’ chair really had sold for £17.7 million! For me, the most surprising aspect of the recent Yves Saint Laurent auction held at Christie’s in Paris was the level of prices being paid for furniture and decorative arts. The hundreds of thousands, and often millions, of pounds paid for vases, chairs, tables and other decorative objects has finally shown that prices can reach those paid for paintings and modern art – traditionally the most valuable items sold in the art and antiques world. This was particularly resonant with me last weekend as I walked around the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The spiralling main gallery was, with few exceptions, filled with what I considered to be the very worst of modern and contemporary art – over-complicated, un-appealing, unattractive, elitist clap-trap. I left disappointed, seeing a wasted opportunity and thinking that so few high profile museums or exhibitions devoted to decorative arts exist. That led me to feel disappointed again. …

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A second bite from the Big Apple

Sunday meant the (reputedly even better) flea market between 38th & 39th off 9th Ave, which we went to after an ‘interesting’ visit to the stunning Guggenheim Museum near Central Park. To look after bodily hunger as well as collecting hunger, the banker and I booked ourselves in for brunch at the perfectly situated and very trendy HK Hell’s Kitchen at 39th St and 9th Avenue. As soon as we arrived it became clear to me that something was wrong. The entrance to the tunnel was busy as ever, but the streets around it were deserted. I realised it was cold and this time of year can mean the market isn’t as large as usual, but where was everybody? Our wait-person revealed all. With a snow storm threatening up to 8 inches of snow later that afternoon, traders had voted with their feet not to come and set up, just in case they couldn’t get home afterwards. In turn, this made us concerned, just in case our evening flight was …

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A bite from the Big Apple

This weekend, I flew to New York — for lunch! I was lucky enough to be flying out to the Big Apple to meet my old business colleague and good friend Julian Ellison, founder and CEO of LiveAuctioneers. Julian founded the company after leaving our alma mater icollector, which we both ended up effectively running for a period of time shortly after the dotcom boom. The sun was shining as I wandered up Broadway and into the trendy ‘Meat Packing’ district to meet him at Soho House for coffee, before heading off to Pastis for lunch. It’s been some time since Julian and I have had a good talk, and this proved to be as invigorating, enjoyable and educational as ever. Thank you Julian! A visit to Philips de Pury to view their latest auction ended a perfect day. Saturday brought a second highlight of the trip – time to go ‘teekin’ as they say in the States, or ‘antiquing’ to you and I. …

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