You have 2 more free articles remaining

That first fair caused a lot of excitement and last autumn was followed up by P&O Events’ first similar 20th century fair at Olympia, also thought to be great fun.

Since then, I and other commentators have spoken enthusiastically about these 20th century shows being potentially the most important new dimension in the antiques world.

So, it was with an open mind and heightened anticipation that we went to the preview party of Mrs Penman’s second 20th Century Show, held in Chelsea from March 25 to 28. That opening party had a similar buzz to last year, with a fresh, eager crowd and an atmosphere far away from the usual antiques fair. There were even some fisticuffs in the bar.

And while we were promised Boy George and even Liam Gallagher, we got Jarvis Cocker of Pulp among the partygoers, which was no poor substitute. A great first night ripe for good business. However, the fair fizzled out a bit after the party and it raised some interesting questions about these modern shows. Going back in the cold light of another fair day it was clear that too many stands of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts variety would have been equally at home at most mainstream fairs.

These new events must be exciting and Deco – especially of the kind one doesn’t see at general fairs – and later seems to be the way forward. It is not surprising that the most notable sales at Chelsea were of Deco furniture – especially by Jazzy Art Deco of London whose lively, bright approach to fairs engendered many sales including a £10,000 cocktail cabinet which is now in Geneva.

Graham Drummond, another London Deco furniture dealer, sold a French bed to an English collector for £5500 and there were notable sales among such items as 1970s accessories. In all, what caused interest was what you do not see at antiques fairs.

Attendance was down on last year, but exhibitors think the event has a future. Afterwards Mrs Penman agreed the fair will need careful guidance as we enter the 21st century to service an ever more sophisticated public taste and demand.

There will be changes next year, and the main one must be that the 20th century fair must be very different to all the other ‘antiques’ fairs. We will see what Olympia comes up with later in the year.