Monday, 29 June 2009

There had to be one...

Last week I found myself lecturing in Worthing, where I was confronted with my fantasy antiques shop.
Alas, as the sharp eyed will notice, it was closed for the day. So no chance for me of tasting some of Mrs Overall's delicious homemade macaroons with a nice cup of tea, or even a wee dram of her sherry. Boo. Maybe Cousin Jerez won after all...

They're here....

...but with no fuzzy TV screens in sight. I am, of course, referring to Kevin Graham's long-awaited magnum opus (or 0pi) on postwar West German Ceramics. With nearly a decade of research behind him, my good friend Kevin will finally be publishing two books on 1st July. The first is 'From Spritzdekor to Fat Lava', which comprises of 262 A4 pages containing 568 colour photographs and 282 photographed makers' marks. A staggering 108 companies are featured, along with designers, decor names, and dates. This volume alone is a real 'must' for any serious collector or dealer.
The second is a companion volume, 'West & East German Makers - Marks & Form Numbers'. Ever wondered what those weird numbers and marks on the bottom of your vase mean? Well, they're the main key to identification (supported by the form and glaze), and this is the book that will help you unlock the door. The book's 174 pages list the shape numbers of over 200 companies - comprising literally thousands and thousands of numbers, together with designers, the dates or period of manufacture, and much more to help you identify your German Pottery.
Kevin himself describes this as being "probably the most up to date form and numbers index available for West & East German Pottery" -- I'd go a step further and say the ONLY!
They say that all good things come to those who wait. We've certainly waited, but having inspected the advances I can see why - the work that has gone into these books is incredible. I just know you won't be disappointed - this really is one that is well worth the wait.
email Kevin at to order your copy, or click here to visit the FREE Fat Lava Forum.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Names we like...

Every now and again in Miller's Towers, we come across names that make us smile in the course of researching our books. Here're some we've found recently:
  • May Doorbar, Charlotte Rhead’s housekeeper.
  • Gwendoline Suckling, decorator at Poole Pottery from 1935-39.
  • Thelma Bush, decorator at Poole Pottery, from 1966-68.
  • Fuller Pilch, cricket batsman, known for his ‘Pilch’s Poke’ forward-batting play.
  • Orval Overall, Chicago cubs pitcher, 1905-10.
My favourite has to be May Doorbar - that name paints a certain picture in my mind as a housekeeper! If you have any others, please do share.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

BBC Antiques Roadshow on the Channel Islands

Well, at least the rain held off! It was that that everyone seemed most worried about as the merry band of Antiques Roadshow production crew and specialists gathered in the beautifully manicured grounds of Saumarez Manor on the idyllic island of Guernsey. The photo above shows the event just before the gates opened. What you can't see is the queue, which was there in force, with everyone clutching their carefully wrapped treasures.
All eyes gazed upwards at the stormy clouds, but someone up there smiled down on the BBC, and by the time the afternoon, and the queue, had been and gone, the sun was shining. As with all Roadshows, thousands of people had brought thousands of objects to be appraised, commented on, identified and valued by the specialists, and many went home with an extra broad grin on their faces.
I managed to film something (above) from amidst everything I saw, and you'll just have to wait and watch the programme to see what it was!
The next day, before I left for Jersey, I managed to make a call on a dear old friend of mine, James Bridges, who is now a consultant with premier Guernsey-based auctioneers Martel Maides.
James and I first met at Bonhams in London, where he was a fellow specialist in the collectors department, specialising in diecast models by the likes of Dinky and Corgi, amongst other toys. I then joined him at Sotheby's, before we both worked together for a third time at an internet company. We parted ways some seven years ago, so had a lot to catch up on, despite me suppressing my rude yawns due to the early start after the busy day. Truly good friends get on and chat however long they've been apart, be it 7 days or 7 years, and so it was with James. We shook hands on a 'high' and with promises to meet up again - soon.
Our meeting was cut short by a date with none other than René Lalique. Not the man, of course, but an entire church he designed from 1932-34. It was a privilege to visit St Matthews' Glass Church, particularly with my esteemed Roadshow colleagues for company. Above, you can see an entire wall of monumental angels - this is just a small part of the wonders you can see, which will truly take your breath away. There really isn't anything else quite like this church, and it provides the perfect balance to any retail therapy you might indulge in in the pretty centre of St Helier.
Before I knew it, the day was spent and the Jersey Roadshow beckoned. The people of Jersey were naturally no less charming, kind and welcoming than those of Guernsey, and the event, held at the picturesque Samarès Manor (above), was packed to the gunnels. Once again, I was lucky enough to film something I loved, and I know that plenty of other treasures were discovered and identified. I was also grateful for the light, late evening. After the work was done, I was able to take off for a peaceful wander through the gardens of the manor with cool and calming zephyrs blowing gently around me...the perfect end to a perfect week.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Brooklands Antiques Roadshow II

Paul Atterbury and I talking at the start of yesterday's Antiques Roadshow in Brooklands Museum in sunny Surrey.

Monday, 1 June 2009

BBC Antiques Roadshow at Brooklands Museum

Of course it had to be a chequered flag - a stylish and perfectly suitable opening to the Antiques Roadshow at Brooklands motoring and aviation museum in sunny Surrey today.
As soon as it was dramatically swept down, thousands of visitors, excitedly clutching their antiques and collectables, made their way to the tables of waiting specialists. It simply could not have been a better day, with the sun in the sky and smiles on faces. Of course, some smiles were even wider as people left!
I was manning my usual post on the many Miscellaneous tables alongside Hilary Kay, Paul Atterbury, Judith Miller, Jon Baddeley, Katherine Higgins and Max Donnelly. Although I didn't manage to film anything this time around, I saw some mighty fine pieces ranging from pop memorabilia, to Clarice Cliff ceramics, to an 18thC scarifier (look it up!) - and even a mummified cat!