Shopping at the Ardingly Antiques Fair

I spent yesterday at the excellent Ardingly antiques fair, with my dear friend and Cracking Antiques co-presenter Kathryn Rayward. With the sun in the sky, only a few clouds in site and a small but comfortable sum of money in our pockets, a-hunting we went. And, as ever, Ardingly didn’t disappoint. I was also there to take photographs for an upcoming Cracking Antiques inspired article for the November issue of Collect It magazine, so was on the look out for bargain furniture from Victorian to retro. With Kathryn’s brains to pick, and her experiences to learn from, we had a bumper day.
I managed to buy a 1960s Thomas Webb glass vase, designed by Stan Eveson in 1961, within minutes of entering the fair – I thought it was a bargain at £10. It should fetch at least three times that much! During the next two hours, I spent a further £32 (£2 over my day’s budget!) on three more items, but I want to do a little bit of research before I tell you about them. Even if I can’t find much, they make great visual and stylistic statements, so I’m a happy man. Kathryn picked up a bargain Victorian beaded purse for £10, a super leather retro handbag, a fab vintage dress, plus some vintage cushions.
Along with the legendary Newark and Lincoln fairs, I can’t recommend a visit to Ardingly enough. It’s smaller than Newark, but no less varied – the Abergavenny barn (above) is always packed out with treasures from ceramics to glass to textiles and metalware. We went on the second day but, if you want the best chance of finding the best bargains, cough up the extra £15 to go on the first day when the trade also visit. Although frowned upon, some dealers will only attend the first day, so going then means that you get to see the best selection. And when you do visit, don’t forget to look out for our good friend Barry. You’re sure to spot his eye-catching stand as it’s always filled with fascinating and fashionable items from vintage stags’ horns to anatomical posters, eclectic candleholders, wooden church and armorial fittings, Art Deco statuary, small furniture, fab retro lighting, and more. A friendly, experienced and knowledgeable dealer, he travels Europe sourcing the best and most unusual pieces, and always has a brilliant yarn to tell – furthermore his take on what is coming ‘in’ has yet to falter. This man knows his stuff. Not so much a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’ but rather a ‘dedicated setter of fashion’!

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