Cambridge Glass Fair

Yesterday saw a nerve-shredding drive up the M11 to the 14th Cambridge Glass Fair at Chilford Hall. As ever, it was well worth it. I was one of many hundreds who braved the torrential rain and flocked to the event to buy the best in glass from 18thC drinking glasses to 21stC contemporary studio glass. My collecting habits are somewhat obscure right now, but I was delighted to buy this piece of Czech glass from Italian glass supremo Massimo Marino. For those of you who don’t recognise it, it’s from the ‘Flora’ range, designed by Frantisek Koudelka and made at the Prachen Glassworks. This range is featured in a 1974 edition of Czechoslovak Glass Review, which describes it as lending a “refreshing touch to every modern home”. It was inspired by Koudelka’s 1973 ‘Karneval’ range, which has similar decoration, and also by antique coloured glass from the Harrachov glassworks. At 35cm (13.75in) high, it’s the largest one I’ve ever seen but friends’ responses were muted, with one even describing it as ‘arty farty’! I’ll leave you to make your own …

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Woman’s Hour

Yesterday I was honoured to be asked onto BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’, to speak about Jessie Tait and her 1950s-70s designs for Midwinter. I was accompanying Professor Cheryl Buckley, who had been lucky enough to meet Tait herself during her research into the role of woman designers in the ceramics industry. If you want to listen to what we discussed, led by presenter Jane Garvey, you can do so by clicking here.

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It’s Out!

The all-new 2010-11 edition of Miller’s Collectables Price Guide by Judith Miller and I is OUT NOW in all good bookshops. Priced at £19.99, there are even more full colour images and information than ever before. With thousands of collectables shown from advertising to ceramics, to glass and toys, there’s truly something for everyone. Here’re the first copies, spotted in Foyle’s in London. If you can’t make it to a bookshop, order your copy direct, and save £8 on the cover price, by clicking here.

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I am delighted to attend the following BBC Antiques Roadshows as a specialist on either the Miscellaneous or Collectables tables – please do dig out your treasures, come along, and say hello! Doors open at 9.30am (although queues start earlier!), and Roadshows run until 4.30pm – providing you’re in the queue by 4pm, you’ll be able to see a specialist.

Thursday 29th April – Victoria Hall, Saltaire, near Shipley, West Yorkshire Friday 14th May – Beverley Minster, East Riding of Yorkshire Thursday 3rd June – Brighton College, East Sussex Thursday 10th June – St Fagans, Natural History Museum, near Cardiff Thursday 1st July – Hutton-in-the-Forest, near Penrith, Cumbria Thursday 15th July – Hatfield House, Hertfordshire Thursday 9th September – Blair Castle, near Pitlochry, Scotland Wednesday 29th September – Colechester Town Hall, Colchester, Essex

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BBC’s Cracking Antiques is announced

Cracking Antiques is on a myth-busting mission to prove that people can add style and glamour to any type of home by investing in second-hand, vintage and antique furnishings – without breaking the bank.

The prime-time series, coming to BBC Two from April 7th at 8.30pm is presented by interior designer Kathryn Rayward and antiques expert Mark Hill.

Kathryn and Mark want to take the pain and shame out of buying old. From town houses to terraced houses, 18th-century French Rococo to shabby chic, they want to show that antiques and vintage furnishings can help create a stylish, fashionable home and are often the better buy.

Cracking Antiques shows that spending wisely on second-hand objects can be a cheaper and unique alternative to much of what the High Street has to offer, and in comparison, antiques are well-made and built to last so are also a much more environmentally sound investment.

The nation loves nothing more than trawling for trinkets and treasures at the thousands of antiques fairs, car boot sales and auction houses up and down the country, and …

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Beware Online!

It’s easy to think that you can trust what you find online. However, always bear in mind that the information you read there may well be misleading, or just plain wrong. Never has the familiar auction term ‘caveat emptor’, or ‘buyer beware’, been more applicable. The internet is open to everyone to post information – and also their opinions and beliefs, regardless of what they’re founded on. It goes without saying that some people are more knowledgeable and reliable than others. As an example, I spotted this vase on eBay last night. Described by the seller as being Murano glass, it has a 1960-70s foil label on the base to prove it. But that’s wrong. It is, in fact, a 1980s Isle of Wight Studio Glass Azurene range small Lollipop vase, in the hard-to-find ‘Azure’ colour. As to how the Murano label got there is anyone’s guess. I’m certainly not saying that the vendor (who has thousands of positive feedback ratings) intends to mislead or deceive but it’s not what it the label says it is! The interesting thing is …

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Priceless Antiques Roadshow II

The excellent and highly enjoyable Priceless Antiques Roadshow continues its second series on BBC2 at 6.30pm. If you’ve missed any, catch up online on iPlayer. If you missed the episode I was in and mentioned below, here’s what I bought for the ceramics challenge. I was delighted with my find, and feel pretty comfortable in saying that the £11 I paid was a real bargain. Last Monday my friend and Roadshow colleague Andy McConnell appeared on the show in a spot I really enjoyed. Regular viewers will love Andy’s fascinating glass valuations, and his passion for glass is clear. Although he’s a renowned expert in the field, he had never actually made any glass himself, despite having watched it being made many times before. So he visited Isle of Wight Studio Glass to work under one of Britain’s most skilled and experienced master glassmakers, and a friend of mine, Timothy Harris. The results are educational, informative and quite frankly sometimes hilarious. I really think he did a great job, with incredible results, …

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Just imagine walking home on a wet and windswept evening balancing an umbrella and your bag precariously as you try to shelter from the elements. You just want to get home, shove the umbrella in its stand, make a warm cup of tea and dry out. Just imagine if that neglected ‘umbrella stand’ turned out to be an 18th century Imperial Chinese vase valued at up to half a million pounds! Exactly this happened to a couple who recently invited auctioneer Guy Schwinge of Hy Duke & Sons in Dorchester to their home for a routine valuation. Just imagine their shock! Schwinge believes that the vase was almost certainly made for the Emperor Qianlong around 1740, and it may also have been owned at one time by Florence Nightingale. Given to the couple as a gift around 50 years ago, it is sadly damaged as one would expect after a few wet, wintry evenings of being irritated. Had it not been damaged, it may have fetched up to £1million. The vase comes up for auction on Thursday 11th February …

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Priceless Antiques Roadshow

The second series of Priceless Antiques Roadshow, the BBC’s fantastic spin-off show from world-famous Antiques Roadshow reached its fifth episode this evening, with another twenty to come. Perfect tea-time viewing, the show looks deeper into the Roadshow, one of Britain’s best-loved TV programmes, and with a 32 year heritage. You’ll learn more about the experts and their personal passions and favourite fields of expertise, glimpse behind the scenes at Roadshows across the country, take a look back through the archives at some of the best and most fascinating finds and the stories behind them, and also see special features unique to the series. I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in one of these, and one of the spots we filmed aired this evening. ‘Expert Eye’ takes three specialists, Katherine Higgins, Steven Moore and I, and pits us against each other to buy an antique or a collectable from three different subject areas against a set, and realistic, budget. First up tonight was ceramics, with each of us being given the …

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