As some of you will know, I’m very fond of wearing a bowler hat. I’ve had many over the years, which isn’t really the point. The first was an antique one from the early 20th century that, completely by chance, fitted me perfectly. When I left it in the dark boot of a hire car in San Francisco in a rush to catch a plane I was so devastated that I vowed only ever to buy inexpensive, easily replaceable modern ‘fashion’ versions in the future to avoid that dreadful feeling again. Six hats later, after leaving my last one in the luggage hold of a plane, I realised that that was the wrong path to take – I ought to buy the best to encourage me to pay more attention to it. And it ought to be antique, or vintage at the very least, considering what I do and love. Trawling through vintage costume shops didn’t yield anything that was a combination of good enough quality, good enough condition and the right size for …

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Last year, I was delighted to be asked to contribute to South Korea’s bestselling travel guide to London. Just published by Wisdom House, British Classic is a beautiful and weighty tome packed with lavish, specially commissioned photographs showing London at its best. It’s a book that will tempt and tantalise before you travel, as well as being an essential companion on holiday. Written by Nari Park, chapters include ‘Royal Heritage’, ‘Afternoon Tea’, ‘Green Spaces’, ‘Antiques & Vintage’, ‘Pubs’, ‘Sports’ and ‘Behind Classic Icons’ and show many of the different facets of British life in our capital city. I think you can guess which chapter I contributed to! Each chapter begins with an interview with a specialist in that area where they reveal their ‘secret’ tips for shopping or visiting sights, their personal thoughts on the area, and their opinion on the state of that particular area right now. Apart from the obvious destinations, I was able to mention a number of my favourite haunts, including Grays Antiques, Alfies Antiques,

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This has nothing to do with animals, obviously. Vetting is the process that occurs the day before certain, usually higher end, art and antiques fairs open. Teams of independent experts grouped by discipline (silver, glass, jewellery etc) move around the fair looking at every object in the fair in their category, closely examining any they feel the need to. Some are dealers at the fair, but most are not and travel in for the day. The point is to ensure that everything for sale is exactly what it is described as being – authenticity, condition, attributions and date must all be correct. Price isn’t included in vetting. That’s down to the dealer selling the item. A vetter may have an opinion, and/or experience, which they may voice to the dealer if they feel it’s appropriate, but generally a vetter is encouraged to keep their opinion on price to themselves. At some fairs I’ve vetted, thoughts on price are offered where a vetter feels that the object is under-priced in the market. Helpful stuff – as is when when a dealer …

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West German pottery of the 1960s & 70s, better known as Fat Lava, is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it – there’s no middle ground. Although I’ve seen huge installations in art galleries and stylish illustrations produced for magazines or calendars, I haven’t seen much other ‘art’ produced with it as a subject. Until today, when I was contacted by artist, bookbinder, framer, and ex-particle physics doctor, Joseph Lilley. Inspired by my book and his own burgeoning ceramics collection, he’s produced a series of prints in saturated, vivid, almost neon, clashing colours that capture the avant garde brightness of the ceramics themselves and are perhaps as shocking to our eyes today as the ceramics were when they first came out. I also rather like the way they are placed against a curtain, almost like some of the (often hilarious) staged family portraits of the period. To get the distinct look, Lilley used a Risograph machine. About this, he says, “This technology was designed for economical high volume …

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