Vibrant Venini Glass

The latest issue of the consistently enjoyable BBC Homes & Antiques magazine is out now, and includes an ‘Instant Expert’ article I wrote on Venini glass. A truly legendary name from the Italian island of Murano, the company has a global reputation for its fabulous glass. Read about the history of the company, the most prominent designers, the best designs, and learn tips on how to identify and date Venini glass. If you’re inspired to buy after reading it, then I can certainly recommend visiting the excellent Cambridge Glass Fair on 28th February. Elsewhere in this bumper issue, you’ll find Judith Miller‘s regular ‘Object Lesson’, this time on upholstered chairs, a fascinating article on antique textile restoration with the lovely Penny Brittain, the usual insider tips and valuations from the Antiques Roadshow team, and plenty to inspire you to have a super ‘Spring clean’ in a few week’s time!

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Vintage Filofax & Mulberry II

Well, my last post seems to have caused quite a stir in the Filofax world! I’ve had rather a large amount of emails from Filofax fans who are, naturally, still using theirs and have pointed out the (many) obvious benefits to me. Perhaps I was a little hasty in saying that the smartphone and PDA ‘have completely replaced’ the Filofax and its ilk – I should have used the word ‘largely’, as there is still clearly a sizeable devoted following.I also ought to point out that I’m the proud owner, and user, of a Mulberry Planner, which accompanies me to many of my meetings and lives in a drawer of my office desk. I also still own my original Filofax, which I would use apart from the fact that I find it too small – the Planner accommodates folded A4 sheets so well. Although I’m a heavy Blackberry user, my working life wouldn’t function as smoothly as it does without my ‘filofax’.

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Vintage Filofax & Mulberry

I had to buy a new Blackberry last weekend, after my previous one died. Standing in the queue to pay, I mulled over how the PDA and smartphone have completely replaced the Filofax. A trusty companion of the Sloane Ranger and Yuppie (remember them?), the fad for these luxury leather small folders has almost completely passed. It’s a shame, as they were very practical, acting as catch-all during a week’s busy work. Although relegated to a drawer, mine is still perfectly useable. I wonder if they will become collectable in the future, representing, as they do, the fashions of a decade? If they do, I am sure that brand names, condition and the quality will count towards desirability and value, much as they do for any antique or collectable. Filofax is at the top – like Hoover, the brand came to represent an object. There’s a blog for Filofax fans, and you can see someone’s amazing private collection here. The ‘Winchester’ seems to be the one to look for. Apart from Filofax itself, I think …

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Sam Herman & Studio Glass

I was recently quoted on the excellent ABJ Seattle Glass Online blog, talking about Sam Herman, “Arguably [he is] the greatest name in British studio glass – and pretty darned important in the global studio glass movement too. Unfairly in my mind at least, few recognise his incredible vision, abilities and importance. Without him, studio glass techniques would not and could not have spread to the UK and beyond.” I absolutely believe this, and think his star is still rising. His work has, without doubt, enormous potential for the future, marking as it does key points in the development of 20th century glass and decorative arts. Shown here is a typical ‘torso’ form made and signed by Herman, dating from the 1980s, and worth £350-450.

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Canadian Chalet Glass

Looking around the excellent Glass Message Board last night, I found a post relating to the lesser-known name of Chalet, who made glass in Canada from 1962-75. Two typical pieces are shown here, courtesy of Miller’s Online. With its spectacular forms and vibrant colours, Chalet glass is often mistaken for glass made on Murano in Italy. With the recent rediscovery of postwar Czech glass, it has also become confused with the production of Czechoslovakia’s Skrdlovice factory. Well, thanks to a wonderful article on the company and its work, including two original catalogue pages showing shapes, this confusion may end. The article turns out to be by my friend and fellow collector Conrad Biernacki, who is kind, charming, and extremely generous with his immense intelligence, knowledge, and experience. I first met Conrad a couple of years ago when, as programs manager, he invited me to lecture about Fat Lava at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Knowing Conrad, this article will be both well-researched and well-written – you can read it by clicking here.

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I’ve had a lot of questions and emails lately about when the next edition of the Miller’s Collectables Price Guide will be available. We usually publish it in Autumn each year but, partly taking into account the hard year we all had, we took the difficult decision to delay it until the official start of the new ‘season’ in Spring. As fairs, auctions and flea markets crank up a few gears at this time, it seemed more sensible and right. So, the answer is that the all-new 2010-2011 edition will be published on March 1st – the rather handsome cover is shown here. The price will be £19.99 and it will be available to pre-order from all good bookshops or from Miller’s Online in late February.

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New Year in Amsterdam

After an extremely busy, but very successful and highly enjoyable 2009, I spent the first few days of my Christmas break in a near catatonic state. Fully recovered, new year was quite different however, with a five day trip to celebrate the occasion in Amsterdam. First stops for any self-respecting art, antiques and collectables fiend have to be the wealth of fabulous museums in the city. All are within easy walking distance of each other. The Rijksmuseum yielded its usual eye-popping highlights, as it is largely closed until later in 2010, but the Stedelijk was sadly completely closed for what looks like an amazing renovation. My personal highlight was the Rembrandt House museum, (above) where I spent a happy four hours surveying their exhibition on ‘Rembrandt Reversed’. Here, his famous etching were shown reversed, revealing the design, effects and movement Rembrandt would have seen as he etched the copper plate by hand. Although some of the revelations were truly that, I wasn’t convinced by all of it, and wondered if the …

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