Well, sort of…a picture of them at least. I can’t pass a charity shop without going in. Fact. Walking to a meeting in north London this morning, I sped past a fair few of them – yippee! On my way back, I popped into them all. I usually head towards the ceramics and glass first, but always cast an eye over everything else. In the last shop, having had no luck so far, I spotted a charming unsigned watercolour on a shelf. You can see it below – the ghostly white cast is the meadow is my reflection, alas, when I took the photo. I’m fond of architectural pictures, and the £10 price tag seemed more than reasonable, especially as it was very nicely mounted, framed, and glazed. The previous owner had obviously thought highly of it, as it had been framed by Sebastian D’Orsai Ltd, sometime in the 1970s or’80s judging by the style of the frame and the framer’s ’01’ London telephone number. Even though I liked it at first sight, I had no idea where …

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Rummaging around a secondhand bookshop (always one of life’s little pleasures) a few weeks ago, I discovered a small and slim hardbound copy of Sheraton’s furniture designs. It was published in 1946 by John Tiranti, and the simple yet charming, Classically-inspired illustrations inside made me glow. So I spent the £4 the bookseller was asking, and then spent a very pleasant evening curled up on a chair browsing through it. Yesterday I found another, slightly larger book published by Tiranti in 1955 that covered Hepplewhite’s furniture and other designs. Remembering my pleasant evening, I had to have it, so I paid what I though was a very fair £5. I know more modern, more comprehensive, and larger format examples of these books can be found cheaply and easily today, but there’s something uniquely marvellous about these black cloth covered hardback books. From the thick paper, to the size, to the way they are printed, they’re just so much more appealing to me. Flicking through the Hepplewhite volume last night, I found a little surprise (below) that speaks of a different …

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Being a born and bred Surrey boy, it’s always lovely to escape the big smoke for a bit of the countryside again. On my way back from a healthy walk in the hills overlooking Dorking, I stopped into the Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair to see what was going on, and say ‘Hi’ to some friends. Now four years old, the fair is smart, elegant, and filled with over 30 of the best dealers from across the country. My friends Lennox Cato and Mike & Debby Moir reported that the first day was very brisk, with a good level of buying happening across the board. Top pieces sold that day included a very rare five-colour gold Fabergé perfume or snuff bottle from T. Roberts, and a fine Georgian figured mahogany extending dining table from WR Harvey & Co.. Both sold for five figure sums. But these were only two of the many objects taken home by new owners, and the fair organisers had noticed that this was the …

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This year’s National Antiques Week (14th-21st October) sees an exciting new nationwide competition – to find Britain’s best antiques shop. And you’re in charge, as the voting is down to you! Even better, entering a vote means you could win one of ten fantastic prizes worth £200 each! The five categories comprise: 1. best antiques shop 2. best antiques centre 3. best specialist shop 5. best auction house So if you have a much-loved antique shop, why not support it by seeing if you and your friends can make it Britain’s Best? If your favourite doesn’t know about it, direct them to either BBC Homes & Antiques magazine, or Antiques News & Fairs, or National Antiques Week. That’s where you can vote too! The winning businesses will be announced by TV celebrity Kirstie Allsopp at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair on 8th March 2012.

Too many people are afraid of buying antiques or think they’re expensive,’ says Kirstie Allsopp.The message that needs to be …

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Fat Lava in the Netherlands

Back in June, I was honoured to be asked to travel to Amsterdam to open an all-new exhibition dedicated to Fat Lava. The organisers, Kevin Graham of the Pottery & Glass Forum and Emiel Monnink of Retrominded, had done a wonderful job, with hundreds of different ceramics on display. Pieces ranged from the unique, such as an amazing studio piece by Gerda Heuckeroth, to more commonly found and more affordable 1960s & 70s Scheurich vases. Colours were vibrant, glazes textured, and the 70-ish people who arrived for the opening were all on top form. It was super to be able to put faces to so many names I had ‘met’ over the internet, but never actually met in person. In the evening, a number of us, including Kevin, Emiel, studio potter Thomas Kummer, and British Fat Lava dealer Stuart of Bygone Times, went out for a very memorable and highly enjoyable celebratory dinner. During the day I had met and been interviewed by Caroline, a lovely freelance writer who was …

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