Hot on the heels of the Antiques Are Green campaign comes the first 'National Antiques Week' in Britain! To be held from 23rd-30th November, the week aims to encourage more people to visit their local antiques shops, auction house or fair and buy and enjoy antiques, collectables and 20thC design. A high profile team of companies and individuals, including BBC Homes & Antiques, The Antiques Trade Gazette, AntiqueNews, LAPADA, and BADA, is also actively pushing the government to support and promote the antiques and collectables industry - which contributes billions of pounds to the national economy. On that note, why not show your support and love for antiques by clicking here to sign up to the online petition now? I've just joined the hundreds who have already. Details of all the many supporters and events will be published on Antiques.co.uk and AntiqueNews, and you can even download a free poster to show your support!
I've just returned from a visit to the wonderful Bushwood Antiques, and am truly excited. Based in the beautiful countryside near Hemel Hempstead, the drive there is fantastic enough, but not as fantastic as the place itself. Over 7,500 pieces of antique furniture await you, ranging in date from the 16th to early 20th centuries, and priced from as little as £200 to over £20,000! There truly is something here for everyone from chairs to bookcases, bureaux and sideboards.
The reason for this post is that I believe Bushwood to be one of the best dealers in Britain for sourcing antique furniture gems. With over 30 years of experience, owner Tony Bush and his staff make you feel welcome and offer friendly and practical advice making it an ideal destination to buy, whatever your level of experience. So-called 'brown' Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian furniture is really making a comeback today and, although prices are beginning to rise, they're still highly affordable - especially when compared to something you might buy on the high street or in a retail park. You'll get something unique, individual and indicative of the high quality of hand craftsmanship you just don't see today. What's more, the money you 'invest' is certainly safer in a piece of antique furniture than it is a modern piece of MDF or chipboard.
I don't ask for much, but I do ask that you support a new website and growing movement promoting the fact that antiques are green. Furnishing your home with antiques and 20thC design not only allows you to express yourself and build a truly individual look, but it also helps save our environment. Consider the carbon footprint left by a new chest of drawers made from trees cut down in the Far East, transported to a factory, and shipped across the world for sale. When this, or an MDF or chipboard wardrobe, invariably collapses after a few years, it causes yet more environmental issues. Antiques and 20thC design have been 'green' for decades - and even centuries. Furthermore, you're not wasting your money - most high street or retail park pieces are worthless after a few years whereas, by comparison, antiques and 20thC design typically hold a firm residual value. Recycling by shopping at an auction, dealer, or fair, is wiser, more rewarding, and truly environmentally friendly. So please visit the Antiques Are Green website as quickly as your fingers will type and sign up to show your support.
People keep saying to me that "everything that's worth something has been found" and "it's not worth looking as there are no bargains any more". Well, it's just not true. Only last month a superb, and rare example of a Modernist chair found for £25 sold at auction for nearly £3,000! Similar, but not quite in the same league, is the large cut glass display goblet shown here. It was acquired by a friend of mine on eBay, where it was described as 'A large crystal balloon vase, hand cut, very unusual'. The seller went on to say that he had never seen anything quite like it before. Not surprising, really, as it's a very rare example of a late 1960s design by Vladimir Zahour, a master of postwar Czech glass design. During this period, the cut itself was the most important factor, rather than it being used as a means to an end, to produce traditional naturalistic or heraldic designs. Simple, geometric cuts in abstract patterns that reflected the brilliance and purity of Czech lead crystal dominated. The design is hard to find, but this form is even rarer. Decanters and ashtrays covered in the pattern crop up from time to time, as do vases. I've only ever seen one example of a goblet before, but at 6.5in (16.5cm) high, this could probably take nearly a whole bottle of brandy! I believe this cross between a (largely impractical) display piece and functional drinking glass makes it much scarcer as fewer would have sold. The price? My friend paid £13. The value? I'd cautiously estimate it at at least ten times that price, and could see it fetching in excess of £150. And that's today. If the market continues to grow as much as it has done, I can see it comfortably exceeding that in five years' time. Not a bad return - try making that sort of margin trading in stocks & shares today!
I know it's not everyone's taste, but taxidermy seems to be seeing a firm return to fashion. Although I've been a long-time fan, I first covered this area professionally in the DK Collectables Price Guide 2007, published in 2006. Since then, the small seed of a trend has turned into something much more. Even to the point of the illustrious newspaper The Evening Standard publishing a long article on the subject. Their focus was the innovative and unique work of artist Polly Morgan, who uses stuffed animals in unusual and striking situations and poses quite unlike those found in dusty old Victorian museums. But it's not just Morgan's work (which can sell for over £3,000!) that has seen a style revolution - those dusty old Victorian and Edwardian animals have also risen in price. If they're humorously posed, like the clever squirrel above, so much the better. You see, it's the quirky, eccentric nature of these beasts that appeals - they add a truly individual look to a room. If they're well stuffed, true to life and perhaps by a good maker such as Spicer or Roland Ward, prices rise again. Certain breeds of animal or bird can also be rare, which increases the price amongst knowledgeable collectors. On that note, by no means am I promoting the killing and stuffing of animals today, particularly endangered species. I love nature too much, and there's plenty of choice out there in salerooms, junk shops and antiques fairs around the world. They've been dead for a while now and it seems a shame not to display them, and wrong to destroy them. Values range from around £30-300, but can be as low as £10 for a more common beast. Only yesterday, I found a rather cute looking badger for £40, who is now positioned emerging from behind my sofa!