Since writing my book on Mdina Glass & Isle of Wight Studio Glass (which is now out of print), I’ve encountered a number of vases with coloured swirly patterning like this. People have brought them to me at BBC Antiques Roadshows and other events to ask whether they’re Mdina Glass, or which range of Isle of Wight Studio Glass they are from. Although I could confirm without any doubt that they were not made at either company, I didn’t know who did make them, or when or where they were made. This Summer, the Banker and I decided to holiday in the heat of Israel. While we were there, we walked across the border (legally, of course) into Jordan to visit Petra, which is rightly one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Wandering around the town the night before, I stopped dead in my tracks in front of a display of many hundreds of vases in different shapes and sizes – but all with this characteristic swirly colouring. Even though I was meant to …

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I need help!

It’s a thorny one, this. I might not make many new friends, but dealers, auction house specialists and other ‘experts’ (if you really want to use that word) will undoubtedly nod knowingly. They may even sigh in agreement.

Let me start this off by saying that, like any normal, adjusted and sociable human being, most people who work in antiques, collectables and 20thC design are happy to help. They count themselves lucky to be working in the area they do, they enjoy it, and they’re keen to encourage others to find the magic they did. Thinking commercially, they may even gain a new client in the future. A rich seam of passion ready for mining runs through. But the problem comes when this help, be it a value, more information or advice on places to sell, is perceived as a free public service.

Take a fair, any antiques fair. A dealer is behind his or her stand, eagerly checking out the passing crowd around it for potential. Someone approaches with an item they own, a photograph or question about something …

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