You’ll no doubt know that I’m a more of 20th century boy in terms of my personal collecting habits. My tastes are broader, however, but even I was a little surprised when I bought the piece below from top French and Bohemian art glass dealers M&D Moir. Friends, family, and the other half were too, exclaiming “But it doesn’t even look like glass..!“ But, for me, that’s precisely the point. There are a number of things about this 6in (15.5cm) high mould-blown vase that fascinate me. Firstly, it’s made from a type of glass known as Lithyalin. Imitating precious hardstones such as agate, the marbled and striated Lithyalin was developed in Czechoslovakia by arch-glassmaker Frederick Egermann in the late 1820s. He patented it in 1828, and produced it until the 1840s. It proved popular at the time, and his competitors produced many imitations which continued to be produced on a diminishing scale into the late 19thC. Due to the way the molten glass was mixed, the striations or marbling on each piece are completely unique. Think about mixing …

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Published by the internationally known Miller’s Publications, Miller’s Collectables Price Guide is the best full colour fully illustrated collectables price guide in the world. Let expert authors Mark Hill and Judith Miller guide you through the world of collectables today, helping you to learn more with handy ‘Collectors’ Notes’, practical ‘Expert Eye’ features and enlightening footnotes. Over 5,000 collectables are valued and shown in full-colour, with subjects including Doulton, carnival glass, diecast toys, vintage fashion, costume jewellery, and much, much more.

To purchase a copy via Amazon, and save £7.80, please click here.

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Who designed this Minton tile..?

Nobody knows everything, and you ought to run away from anyone who says they do. I know very little about tiles, it’s a very specialist market. But a specialist market that is growing in size and appeal as more choose to use antique tiles in fireplaces or hallways or, in fact, all over the house. Our hallway is floored with some Victorian terracotta and sky blue tiles that look very much the bee’s knees, and came from Leominster Reclamation. Away from the architectural side of tiles, I’ve always admired single tiles displayed in plain, thick wooden frames and hung on a wall. So the week before last, for more reasons than its visual appeal, I bid on the Victorian tile shown here at an auction I attended. And won it. My question is, who designed it? And when? The back of the tile has nine ridges and bears some recently applied paper labels reading ‘Minton Prosser’s Patent / This tile probably exhibited with Pugin’s Great Stove / Great Exhibition 1851 / Hence damage from feet‘. Interesting – …

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The Britain’s Best Antiques Shop awards came to an exciting climax last week at The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Organised by Homes & Antiques magazine and Antiques News & Fairs, voting began back in October as part of National Antiques Week. Many thousands of votes were received from across the country – and even from outside the country, showing just how vibrant and loved Britain’s antiques scene is. The Pavilion that holds the fair was packed, and not just with buyers, as much of the crowd was also there to find out who the winners were. Or, in a few cases, to find out if they were the winners! We were delighted to welcome homes, crafts and interiors guru – and major antiques lover – Kirstie Allsopp to present the awards after I had read  the list of the final nominees. In effect the antiques and vintage version of the Oscars, the crowd waited with baited breath! The winners were: 1. Britain’s Best Antiques Shop – Blighty Antiques, Cheltenham (shown …

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Textiles, which are often ignored in favour of furniture, ceramics or glass, have been enjoying a real renaissance recently. I think this is partly down to the current vogue for vintage clothing, particularly from the 1950s & 60s, and partly as people are beginning to wake up from the cold, clean Minimalist look that’s been so popular for a few decades. They’ve always fascinated me, from wonderful 18th century toiles de jouy, to abstract designs of the 1950s. My esteemed and eminent colleague, the design historian and curator Lesley Jackson, has just finished a book on one of the most innovative companies of the mid-20thC – Edinburgh Weavers. If  you haven’t heard of them, you really ought to read this book and find out more – it’s very early days for an area that I feel is going to be huge! Edinburgh Weavers was one of the most important textile companies of the twentieth century. Alastair Morton, visionary art director of the company, commissioned a remarkable series of textiles from leading British artists, including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth …

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Will You Seek & Adore? I Did!

Sometimes in my world, it’s all about ‘dead people’s stuff’. By that, I mean that by virtue of the words ‘antique’, ‘vintage’, or ‘retro’, we tend to focus on things designed and made by people who are sadly no longer with us. That’s the meat and bones of the industry, but it’s refreshing, and correct, to consider the work of today’s craftsmen, much of which will arguably become the antiques of tomorrow. And a perfectly brilliant place to do it on is Hatty Fawcett’s website, Seek & Adore. Showcasing the best in contemporary British craftsmanship, the site offers a scintillating smorgasbord of glass, ceramic, metalwork and textiles. Over the past few months, the company have been asking a number of people to select their favourite items on the site, and write a few sentences about why they like them. I am honoured to be latest person featured, and you can see what I picked by clicking here. Click on the ‘Next Item’ link at the bottom right corner of the box to flip through my choices, …

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Mid-century modern and studio glass lovers out there will love the new (March 2012) edition of Homes & Antiques magazine, as I’ve written new article on the beauty of Mdina Glass for it. Already as popular with collectors as it is with those with an eye for retro, vintage, and modern interiors, you can learn how to spot a great piece, as well as the stories behind the company and Michael Harris, the fascinating and talented man who built it and provided the designs. The image above, courtesy of Homes & Antiques, is just a taster of what awaits you. Prices for the best pieces have risen tenfold over the past six years, but there are still plenty of bargains out there to be found. On that note, I’m excited to announce two unmissable opportunities to buy Mdina Glass. The first is a selling exhibition being run by my friend and colleague Mark Newsum, of Newsum Antiques in the picturesque village of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds. Mark kindly supplied all the glass that’s featured …

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So, as you can see from my last blog post, our mid-century modern shopping excursions were both successful and enjoyable. Fair’s fair and, in return, the banker wanted to go ‘proper’ shopping. So we drove to the famed Aventura Mall, south of Fort Lauderdale. Billed as one of the biggest and best malls in the US, we expected great things. As American retailers don’t really do tweeds, or the sorts of other clothes I like or fit into properly, I eventually sloped off to find a bookshop. Only to find that in the hundreds of stores in the mall, there wasn’t one single, solitary bookshop. Not one!

But they did have this.

A shop entirely dedicated to all manner of calendars.

Great.

Thankfully, the bookshop isn’t dead, despite the closure of Borders. I spotted a couple of Barnes & Nobles as we drove around, but was delighted to find Books & Books in South Beach. This is surely the future of bookshops. A carefully curated …

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As we didn’t manage a holiday this year, and Summer wasn’t exactly hot, the banker and I decided to cash in some air miles and spend New Year in the hot sun of Florida. When I take a holiday, it doesn’t usually take long for that ‘itch’ to set in and for me to start keeping a keen eye out for antiques, vintage, or retro shops. I think my record is about three days. And I certainly didn’t break that record this time… South Beach in Miami offered nothing, but the three days of relaxation were marvellous. We then drove down to Key West for a day or two, where I had more luck. Bear the somewhat tacky main drag of Duval Street as long as you can to turn off and go down Fleming Street. There are a couple of places here, the most interesting for me being Sam’s Treasure Chest. Looking just like an antiques or junk shop used to look, it’s packed to the gunnels with all sorts of goodies, generally priced at under $100 …

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2011 has clearly been quite a year for so many people for so many reasons. For us, it’s been a year of change. Nothing stays the same for ever, and in a way that’s for the best. After all, how bored would we all get if everything was the same, year in, year out, forever? What would we have to challenge us, and to look forward to? We’re looking forward to 2012, and plan to cook up a storm with a couple of new titles that are currently bubbling away. Watch this space! But right now, it’s time for a much-needed break, so our offices will be closed from Thursday 22nd December until 8th January inclusive. Any book sales or enquiries received between those dates will be answered when we reopen on Monday 9th January. Talking about changes over time, even Santa Claus has changed. It’d be easy to think that this historic and traditional character has been dressed in a white fur-trimmed red suit for ever. Not so! Before the 1920s, he was frequently depicted wearing …

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Interview In The Chap Magazine

I’ve been a fan of ‘The Chap‘ magazine for quite some time now, having found issue 7 in a vintage clothes shop a fair few years ago. Who couldn’t resist a magazine with a strap-line reading ‘Divinity lies in the insouciance of a moleskin waistcoat‘? Especially as I was wearing one at the time. For those who don’t know it, this bi-monthly publication edited by Gustav Temple guides, entertains, and celebrates the modern gentleman. Witha  strong leaning towards the wearing of tweed. You might think it’s done in a brilliant tongue-in-cheek manner as you peruse and read, but it’s a bible for the chaps who love it… So I was delighted, honoured, and touched to be asked to be the subject of the regular ‘Chap Questionnaire’ for issue 60, especially as this is their ‘Dandy’ issue. Previous chaps interviewed include Stephen Fry, Robin Dutt, Nick Foulkes, the late Sebastian Horsley, and Roger Moore. And, my, how it’s grown! Issue 60 is much larger and thicker than my dog-eared issue 7, and includes an excellent interview …

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Earlier on this year, I launched my fifth book on Caithness Glass. Once again, this accompanied a ground-breaking exhibition of glass from the Graham Cooley collection. The exhibition was launched in January at the renowned Broadfield House Glass Museum in Stourbridge, and Graham and I were delighted to welcome Emer OBroin, the daughter of the company’s co-founder and chief designer Domhnall OBroin, to the launch weekend. You can read a little more about the events that weekend by clicking here. From there, the exhibition travelled to Perth, the ‘home’ of Caithness Glass, where it was on display at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery from May to October. Both exhibitions attracted thousands of visitors, and the Perth exhibition was enjoyed by many current and ex- employees of the company. Below you can see a panorama of the exhibition.

The exhibition has now travelled on to King’s Lynn, where it opened at the re-launched King’s Lynn Arts Centre this weekend. I opened the exhibition on …

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