Today was spent wandering around the sun-soaked fields of the massive Ardingly Antiques & Collectors' Fair in Sussex, organised by DMG. With a 36 degree heat, the fields where the fair is held might have been arid, but the selection on offer certainly was far from dry. It reminded me what a superb hunting ground these DMG fairs still are, despite what you might hear from the 'doom merchants'. However, as with everything, you only get back what you put in. I always find that it pays to wander around the entire event, from the more upmarket, specialist dealers in the vast barns to the outerlying areas where traders display their wares on blankets and fold-up tables on the grass. Okay, you may need a pint of water and a good gin and tonic afterwards to recover from the 3 hour walk in such a heat, but take my word that it's worthwhile.
So what did I find? A rather large and handsome 1950s Bay Keramik vase designed by the notable Bodo Mans for £10 and an U-Keramik foamy lava vase shown in my Fat Lava catalogue for the princely sum of £5 - on special offer too! Just goes to show that there are bargains still to be had, with both arguably being worth around 5 times the amount I paid. I also bought a Bernard Rooke vase. Much as I always tend to fall in love with objects after owning them for five minutes (well, seconds, if the truth were known!), I bought this one to sell. I wonder how it will do on eBay? Always a risk, but we'll see.
And what did I learn? As ever - a hell of a lot! It was great to see old friends and make some new ones, but even better to get to see and handle some superb objects. I also bumped into an ex-colleague of mine from Sotheby's who was involved in filming as an expert for the BBC's Bargain Hunt series, which made the day extra-special for me as we haven't seen each other for over 5 years.
My friend Judith was speaking at the event and the passion that dealers have for their objects was reflected in the audience. Despite the sweltering temperatures in the marquee, the attendance was extremely strong and people were friendly, receptive and inquisitive. A quick book signing with Judith and chats with collectors followed - all good fun - and I was soon packing my new found treasures into my car for the drive back to London. Now, who mentioned gin and tonic...?!
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