Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@antiquemark) will know that we’re in the process of moving house right now. Exhausting and stressful at the best of times, everything is so much better if you have a good removals company. We do, and I can recommend them wholeheartedly – and that’s not something I say often. Super polite, efficient, tidy, and diligent, Paul Bouwer and his team at Bluebird Carriers have helped us move twice before. Everything is packed perfectly and shifted swiftly and safely – and they can even help you with storage if you need that too. Most importantly from my perspective, they’re also adept at dealing with antique and vintage furniture, pictures, and lighting, as they’re also specialists in handling fine art and antiques. How did we choose them from the plethora of people out there? Well, we were very lucky – Paul married one of my dear friends from university. If you’re moving, use them. Quite simply, they’re brill. Click here to visit their website.

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Van Woerden & Vest Keramiek Pottery

One of the great delights of the recent Fat Lava exhibition in Amsterdam (a blog entry is on its way) was putting faces to names of many fellow collectors who I’ve got to know over the years via email. Once such collector is Els van Petersen. Els and I first got in contact when I found a Dutch studio pottery vase with a paper label reading ‘van Woerden’, and put it in a Miller’s Collectables Price Guide. “Do you know anything about them?“, Els asked me by email. “Only a little bit…”, I replied. Els had a number of van Woerden pieces in her collection and, being intelligent and inquisitive like most collectors are, wanted to find out much more. Little did she know that the journey would take her to places as close as Monster and Gouda in the Netherlands, and as far away as Ontario in Canada! Van Woerden was founded by Marius van Woerden (b.1942) in Monster, in 1964. He had gained experience working for a number of Dutch potteries including De Steenuil, Groeneveldt, Ravelli, …

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Antiques Roadshow in Aberystwyth

Last Thursday my fellow Roadshow specialists and I converged on the sunny seaside town of Aberystwyth in Wales for another day of filming for the Antiques Roadshow. Perched on a hill, the renowned Arts Centre was our host, and what a delightful day we had. Sunny skies (yes!), incredibly warm and welcoming visitors, and a truly stunning location. I managed to film three things but, as ever, you’ll have to wait until the show airs in order to find out what they were. With thanks to the Arts Centre, you’ll find a photo of me just before I started filming one of them below. And whilst I’m on thanks, I’d also like to thank my lovely owner! I booked a late train the next day, as I wanted to spend some quality time with the superb studio pottery collection in the Arts Centre. It turned out that my delightful colleague Barley Roscoe knows the curator, so the lovely Penny Brittain and I were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the collection. If you don’t know it, …

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Well, that might be an over-statement, as it has its moments, and I ought to be celebrating it after last night. This weekend I bought a mid-19thc Copeland Late Spode stoneware bottle vase in a junk shop in Edenbridge. Yes, just the one, not a pair. And, I know, it’s not my usual thing at all. It just called out to me to take it home, and it wasn’t expensive. But it was also stained – badly. The appealing (well, to me anyway) transfer-printed and hand-painted glossy floral pattern should have contrasted pleasingly against the matte pale blue jasperware-like body, but the effect was ruined by an uneven dull brown stain. After getting home, I set to cleaning it. The seller’s thoughts of ‘a little ‘Fairy Liquid‘ didn’t work. Nor did soaking it for a day and a night, and I know it’s apparently dangerous to soak such pieces. Out came the ‘Bar Keeper’s Friend’, which said it was approved for use by Wedgwood on their ceramics. Although it looked as if it would be worryingly abrasive, it didn’t damage …

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The clever, or observant, amongst you will have noticed that 2011 is the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. A landmark event that buoyed up the nation after the war, it celebrated our culture, developments in technology, manufacturing and design, and looked forward to ‘the world of tomorrow today’. The main event was held in a specially built complex on the South Bank in London, but many other events were held in towns, cities and villages across the country. Apart from some inexpensively made memorabilia and accompanying programmes and brochures, all that remains of the event is the Royal Festival Hall. Designed by Leslie Martin, Peter Moro and Robert Matthew, the Modernist building contains important furniture designed by Robin Day. After undergoing renovations from 2005-07, it’s now once again a thriving hob of activity. As part of the anniversary celebrations, part of the building has been devoted to the ‘Museum of 51‘, devised and organised by designer …

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