Last week I attended the wonderful Antiques For Everyone Fair at the NEC, Birmingham, along with Judith Miller. Held three times a year, it’s the largest vetted fair in the UK, attracting hundreds of dealers, and tens of thousands of buyers and collectors.
This time around, Judith and I had been asked to help with the vetting process – something neither of us have ever done before. In case you’re not familiar with the term, every item for sale at the fair is checked by a panel of independent experts and specialists to ensure that it is correctly identified, labelled, dated, and that any restoration of modification is correctly noted. We joined a committee totalling 120 across all subjects, with me working with Robert Marris and my friend Charles Hajdamach on the glass committee, and Judith joining the ladies’ vanities committee. As you can imagine with so much to see, the process took all day, and was both enjoyable and educational.
As we crossed from stand to stand, Judith and I were also on the look out for six ‘Top Picks’ – special pieces that shouted out to us, and that we would love to buy from the fair. These were then photographed and displayed in the large entrance hall together with some short text explaining why we chose that particular piece (above). You can see what I picked by clicking here, and what Judith picked by clicking here. I need to whisper this bit….as more of my Top Picks sold than Judith’s….not that we’re competitive or anything…!
But we were at the fair to sell Miller’s books, and sell them we did. By lunchtime of the second day, we had sold out of the Collectables Price Guide 2010-11 and, by close of play on Sunday evening, our table was empty – every single book had been sold! One of the greatest elements of any fair is seeing friends old and new, and chatting to people about their collecting passions. The four days whizzed by!
I also filmed some short pieces for ITV and the BBC about royal commemoratives and the fair itself. Mike Moir had a pair of incredibly rare, superb quality glass comports made to commemorate the ‘accession’ and abdication of Edward VIII that provided a perfect focus. Both Judith and I were also filmed by the fair organisers themselves, and you can see my clip by clicking here, or viewing it via the (rather unfortunately posed!) image above.
If you don’t know this very high quality and smartly organised fair, you really should – as I say in my short vlog, it does exactly what it says on the tin, as there’s something here for everyone, regardless of budget. Click here to learn more and see the dates of the next fair – you’re in for a real treat.