Avengers’ Style

My sharp-eyed friends Marc & Maiken at the excellent Utopia2000 in Germany are currently selling an opaque white large Holmegaard or Kastrup ‘Gulvvase’ designed by Otto Brauer in 1962. In another instance of seeing great vintage design on the small screen, they spotted an identical piece in Emma Peel’s fashionable 1960s house in the first series of ‘The Avengers’. The pictures here show the indomitable John Steed, with the bottle in the background, and Emma peering in wearing what looks like to be a fab psychedelic dress! The Gulvvase is an iconic 1960s glass design, with prices ranging from £30 to over £250 depending on colour and size. The most desirable are opaque, and colours include white, light blue, red, green, and yellow. It was also produced in different transparent colours – but watch out for 1970s reproductions retailed by Cascade in the UK. These less desirable and valuable reproductions can be distinguished by their colours – kingfisher blue, colourless, pewter grey and smokey topaz – which are quite different to the originals.

Read More

Mumbai Oasis

It’s always worth doing your homework properly, checking any marks on a piece against your research. A few months ago, I found a rather amusingly mis-described item for sale. The seller knew exactly what it was, and described it accurately as an “Isle of Wight Studio Glass Fish vase designed by Michael Harris”. They also noted that it was numbered 36 from an apparent edition of 500, and bore the inscribed range name of ‘Mumbai Oasis’. Any piece of Isle of Wight Studio Glass inscribed with such numbering identifies it as having come from the batch ordered by an American department store in around 1986. Each was inscribed with a number under 500, giving the impression of a limited edition. In fact, this means that it was one of 500 pieces ordered – and the batch included all manner of different shapes and sizes from many different ranges produced at the time. Expensive Fish vases were very much in the minority, with only a few being included. Each piece was also inscribed ‘England’, to comply with export laws. As to …

Read More

Bargaining in Beijing

Our first stop was the capital city of Beijing, known as Peking until the Revolution in 1949. After a recouperative night’s sleep following the 9 hour flight from London, I set off mid-morning to enormous Panjiayuan antiques market in the south east of the city. Although many flea markets are overrun with tourists, particularly in or near the centre of the city, this is more authentic and apparently many centrally based dealers buy here. The market compound is divided into two main sections, wide alleyways lined with permanent shops, and a truly vast open sided barn where sellers spread out rugs or blankets to display their wares for sale. I’m told that many are peasants who make their way into town after buying in the provinces, but I think most are really canny professionals. By the time our taxi pulled up mid-morning, only a fifth of the space was still occupied – trade seemingly starts and tails off very early, and Saturday and Sunday are the best …

Read More

Bye Bye Atlantique City

Billed as ‘the world’s largest indoor antiques show’, the wonderfully named Atlantique City, held twice a year in Atlantic City, New Jersey has been cancelled by owner F+W Media. I’m sure I’m amongst many thousands of dealers, collectors and auctioneers who are extremely sad to hear this. In compiling the DK Judith Miller Collectables Price Guides, I spent a number of years visiting the show in Spring and Autumn, which never failed to leave me inspired and in awe – and my bank account drained. Although I haven’t been for a few years now, it was also the place I met many people who I am now lucky to count as colleagues, including watch expert Mark Laino of Mark of Time, Barbara Blau of the South St Antiques Market, Sharon & Joe Happle of Sign of the Tymes, marble and glass experts Bob & Mark Block, costume jewellery supremos Roxanne Stuart and Bonny Yankauer, Barbara Lauver and Dotty Ayers of The Calico Teddy, and …

Read More

Holidays in China

Looking at the pictures here, I’m giving you no guesses about where I spent my Summer holidays this year! Carefully saved air miles were cashed in, and at the end of August the banker and I went on a two week trip across China, a place neither of us had been to before. Although I did take some time off and away from work, I just can’t tear myself away completely. As a result I was able to check out some of the best destinations for hunting for antiques and collectables in the four cities we visited. I say antiques, but they weren’t my target. Compared to the West, there are fewer authentic antiques in China due to the Cultural Revolution, and the enormous level of export of goods across the centuries. It’s also illegal to export antiques made before 1795, and authentic pieces made after that date until the early 20thC need to be examined by government experts, have a red seal applied, and be officially …

Read More

A few months ago, I wrote a quick blog entry on a particular passion of mine – Mordan propelling pencils. You can read it here. You can imagine my delight when BBC Homes & Antiques magazine commissioned me to write an article on the subject. As well as a history of the company and its products, you can read my pick for ‘An Investment’, ‘Three Of The Best’ and an explanation of the different marks used by the company across the century or so they were in existence. As ever with this magazine, the photography is also stunning! In addition to this, there’s a special ‘behind the scenes’ feature on the Antiques Roadshow from presenter Fiona Bruce, the usual price guide feature and sumptuous interiors, and a fascinating ‘Real or Fake’ feature from David Battie on Chinese porcelain. The current issue is out now and costs a mere £3.60. If it inspires you find out more, I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting the ‘London Writing Equipment’ show on October 4th. Click here to visit their website. Also, check …

Read More