Sunday, 27 April 2008

A Fruity Retro Classic

Disaster - my favourite antiques and collectables centre is closing! Perfect for a good rummage, and with a great turnover of stock, the delightful Mimbridge Antiques Centre in Surrey was also not affected by the ever-encroaching trend for including repro and inspired-by "antiques". Hidden amongst everything else, they just confuse newbie buyers and annoy you and I, which isn't good for anyone. On the upside, the half-price closing down sale did mean that I could invest in a few pieces that I had had my beady eye on for a while.
I've always wanted one of these, but have always found something more 'worthy' to hand over my hard-earned dosh for. Now it's installed in my kitsch-en, I don't know why it took me so long - it's fab! Icons of retro design, these were made from the 1960s-70s by British company Evers. They were also produced for drinks company Britvic, but I've never liked the oval name plates on the side. The tip here is to look for glass bowl liners, like mine has. Easily broken, they are hard to find today and are also indicative of an earlier example - later liners were made of plastic. What did I pay? A princely £7. The value? Collectors, and those wishing to add an instant touch of retro cool to their homes, will usually have to pay anything from £30-50 from a specialist dealer.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Isle of Wight Studio Glass Collectors' Day

Now held annually, these exciting events have become firm fixtures in collectors' diaries. Over 80 keen collectors and fans packed into the studio today for this, the second of such days. The busy schedule kicked off with a welcoming introduction from Ron Wheeler of Artius Glass. This was swiftly followed by Timothy Harris making a 'Flower Vase' in front a rapt audience. Next up was a lecture on the origins of British studio glass by Roger Dodsworth, the Keeper of Glass at Broadfield House Glass Museum. After a break to watch more glass being made, and even try your own hand at this most ancient of arts, a delicious buffet lunch was served.
Straight up after lunch was your truly, giving a lecture (above) on the fashion for textured glass during the 1960s & 70s, and Michael Harris' important part in that trend. It seems my choice of theme was fitting, as the most important event of the day - the unveiling of the 'Day Piece' - was to follow. Only available to attendees on the day, Timothy Harris keeps his new design very much under wraps until the afternoon of the day itself.
We were not disappointed, as Tim cleverly fused his own 'Undercliff' design with his father's designs for bark textured vases first produced in Summer 1963. The combination of the complex and abstract forest design of 'Undercliff' with a bark textured surface is inventive, innovative and highly apt. The production process was also nothing less than amazing, taking nearly an hour to complete, and ending with a dramatic gush of steam as the hot glass met the wet bark lined mould. If you're into the glass produced by this prolific family, then these days are a must. I always have superb fun, and I'm sure you will too. Check out Isle of Wight Studio Glass' website for more information on the next event, and see you there!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Go Sklo!

Well, it seems as if post war Czech glass design is very much flavour of the month! Could it become flavour of the year, and maybe even the next 'big thing', I wonder?
With July seeing the launch of an important and ground-breaking exhibition and accompanying catalogue focusing on the subject, prices seem to be rocketing. Last night, the jardiniĆ©re version of this vase design sold for over £230 on eBay - more than three times the price the version shown below fetched a few years ago.
From a range known to collectors as the 'Head' series, it was designed in 1972 by Adolf Matura, a highly notable and extremely influential Czech glass designer. Made from pressed glass, it was produced by the Libochovice 'hut (hut means glassworks), which was known for its pressed glass designs and was part of the important Sklo Union group of factories. Despite apparently being mass-produced, this design seems to be incredibly hard to find - a fact that is clearly reflected in the price.
I'm sure you'll agree that the design is both fantastically modern and innovative - it's still as fresh today as it was over three decades ago. Look closely though - although it looks like a face looking straight at you, you can also see two faces in profile kissing. Clever indeed.
I'd watch post war Czech glass design in general very closely right now. If you like it and haven't started collecting yet, I'd strongly advise you to start now, as it looks like the area is on the up!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Antiques Roadshow - Belfast

Phew - what a day! We were rushed off our feet - as is always the case with Antiques Roadshows, and as I am finding out as the 'new boy'. I still miss the direct contact that I used to enjoy with both people and their objects on valuation days for both Bonhams and Sotheby's. This replaces the excitement of these events for me, so was fantastic fun.
The folk of Belfast are certainly collectors. Everything from Beswick to Murano to Titanic to Worcester passed through the experts' hands today. Not only are they collectors, but they are also wonderfully polite, warm and welcoming. I mention the Titanic as it was particularly important to our location - the Harland & Wolff shipyards where the great ship herself was built. Despite it being a warm and sunny day, there was a distinct, almost eerie, chill in the air when I first set foot inside the romantically abandoned building early that morning. As I have suggested, the visitors soon warmed things up though!
After a short, yet fast and furious, spell on reception I spent much of the day on my usual haunt of the Miscellaneous and Collectables tables. Did I find anything? I sure did! Something related to Elvis Presley left me feeling 'all shook up', as did some rather interesting toys that I rather wished I owned myself. The fate of these unwanted gifts would have been quite different if I had been the recipient as a child - or even today, I am ashamed to say.
If you want to know more, watch the BBC Antiques Roadshows on 11th or 18th January 2009 to see if they make it to the screen. In case you're wondering about the image, it's of Judith Miller and I peeping through the expert biography board on either side of our dear friend Steven Moore - where ever did our cards go? A swift pint of Guinness (what else...) with my colleague Eric Knowles in the famous Crown Bar rounded off what was a fantastic day for all - me especially.