As a typical Aquarian, I always favour the underdog. I love the unsung, the hated and the ignored. Wandering around the Portobello Gallery of contemporary art and crafts with my wonderful uncle and aunt on the stunningly picturesque Otago Peninsula, I spotted a couple of cabinets of vintage New Zealand studio pottery. As the banker was temporarily elsewhere and couldn’t enforce my ban on antiques while on this holiday, I dived swiftly, somewhat reminiscent of a hawk spotting a mouse in a field below. There was a fair bit of Crown Lynn, one of New Zealand’s most collectable names in 20thC pottery, but I wanted something more unusual. I went through a number of different companies until my eyes rested on a rather unusual double-handed cup. I was also a little peckish, and the swirling colours reminded me of fudge, toffee, cream and chocolate. That, the two handles and the fact it was ‘solidly proportioned’ (at 3in or 7.5cm high) made it seem like something I’d want to drink a hot chocolate out of on …

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There he was, in a tent in a park at London’s top decorative antiques fair. Standing in funky trainers, Tom Ford glasses, designer jeans and a Prada jacket. A successful City banker friend of my boyfriend, trying to look at least ten years younger. A mid-life crisis and an attempt to stay relevant maybe? It doesn’t matter, it’s what’s in his wallet that the mercenary are interested in. And isn’t every dealer and fair organiser (rightly and fairly) looking for exactly this sort of buyer, who they may be able to turn into a regular client and even, dare I say it, a collector?

He’d just bought his first million-pound house in Kensington, and was looking to furnish it. He knows what I do so addressed me direct and directly. “I don’t want mid-century modern.”, he said. “I get the feeling it’ll be out of fashion and half the price in three years time.”, he continued. “I want the proper stuff, something real.” His Russian boyfriend needed convincing, however. “He likes everything gleaming and new, he just doesn’t get this old …

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We were lucky enough to spend this Christmas visiting family in New Zealand who I hadn’t seen since I was five years old. Looking for suitable souvenirs of my travels, I found the prices for much good and worthwhile contemporary art or Maori crafts that I also liked to be beyond my meagre budget, especially given the cost of getting there! Furthermore, the banker had banned me from bargain hunting in antiques shops as it was deemed I needed a break. Banned from antiques shops I may have been, but neither the banker nor I can resist the allure of a secondhand bookshop. Thankfully there was a rather large one where we were staying in Devonport, Auckland (sketched, right) that was sadly closing down and offering a healthy discount on purchases. How could we resist? As well as picking up a few reference books, I spotted the book shown above in the New Zealand art section. Priced at NZ$30 (£15) with discount, it’s titled ‘New Zealand Sketches C.J.’, with C.J. presumably being the otherwise anonymous artist. The …

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