Friday - 19 December 2014

Bath fair has plenty for seasoned dealers and casual buyers alike

25 February 2014Written by Anna Brady

It turns out that a pair of three-foot pricket candlesticks, an advertising sign and a heavy convex mirror are not the easiest things to transport with only two hands on the London Underground at rush hour. In fact, the kindness of strangers becomes crucial.

Such was the position I found myself in on the way back from The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair a couple of years ago, having decided to leave my car at home so I couldn't buy anything. That didn't work.

But that's the thing about this fair. It's often just too tempting and, as someone with limited funds and little self-control, I can confirm it's just the sort of event that throws up quirky and affordable pieces; a low-key, popular event whether you're a seasoned dealer queuing for the hectic trade opening or a home decorator.

Part of the charm of this eclectic event is that it has always been a little scruffy round the edges, and it is held in The Pavilion in North Parade Road, a building that always has the feeling of a school assembly hall.

Initially launched by Bath dealer Robin Coleman to promote the Bath and Bradford-upon-Avon Antiques Dealers' Association, this year's event from March 7-9 (trade day Thursday, March 6) marks its 25th anniversary. Robin organised and exhibited at the event for 23 years until last year, when he sold it to Sue Ede and Pete Hodder, otherwise known as Cooper Events, who organise numerous art and antiques fairs around the UK. But, conscious of the fears that Bath might lose its individuality, they have kept it as a stand-alone event, separate from the Cooper Antiques Fairs stable.

Sustaining Footfall

Although the trade day has always been busy, business traditionally tailed off a little afterwards and one of Sue's aims has been to sustain footfall over the weekend by bringing in some of her following among private buyers, and there has been some subtle 'smartening' of the venue. Not too much, though.

Organised by Gail McLeod, who has been involved with the fair since the beginning and is now a consultant to the organiser, this year a group of the Antiques Young Guns are involved, adding some new blood to the event, many of them only having exhibited at a handful of fairs or not at all.

They include two from Perthshire: Lady Kentmores from Callander and Clarke Pickett from Rait; Doe & Hope (Bedfordshire); Jason Clarke Ltd (Berkshire); and, returning to the fair, D. Larsson Interior & Antikhandel from Sweden.

 "I am delighted to welcome a number of new faces for 2014 and others who have not shown here for several years," said Sue. "We enjoyed a strong fair last year and, with greater breadth now than ever and the addition of the 'Young Guns', it's looking like a fascinatingly varied and interesting fair with plenty of choice for trade and private buyers."

Other new exhibitors this year among the 45 exhibitors include Scandinavian by Design; William Morris Antiques; Lucia Collectables; Elham Antiques; Smithson Antiques; Aeology, London (part of the Decorative Collective, Petworth); Jack Dawes; Carr Linford & David Levi; Ancient & Period; Not wanted on voyage; Jo Brayshaw; Chris Jenkins and Jo Bennett Fine Original Paintings.

I'm taking my car this time.

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