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When I visited on the second day it seemed the first day had seen a lot of action, but business was not bad on day two and there were naturally hopes of weekend sales. Unfortunately, in a pattern which seems to have been established at recent fairs, rather than a surge of interest there was a petering out.

But enough seemed happy enough to keep this as the most important provincial antiques venue and, although we all agree gates are a variable feast, the attendance of 23,715 (up on last year) is not to be sniffed at.

Ceramics were good sellers both at the more expensive end in Section 1 and among the Section 2 dealers in their popular area with a market-like atmosphere.

Regular trade and private buyers accounted for much of the ceramics business but Norwich glass dealer Brian Watson said: “I’ve never made sales so quickly.”

Furniture again hit problems although NEC stalwarts like Adams Antiques of Cheshire and Doveridge House of Neachley reported a good fair and picture sales were mixed but Rowles Fine Art from Powys were happy enough after just the opening day when they met new clients.

There was nothing but praise for organisers Fran Foster and her team, the fair looked better than ever and opening-day sales were described by some as “frantic”. So why do fairs now tend to fizzle out?

Maybe the shorter a fair the better and perhaps people who are going to buy nowadays make their minds up quickly and do not come back two or three days later after cogitating. What is the optimum length of a fair? Recent experiences suggest just one day or even a few opening hours.

On a lighter side, I have never heard so many conspiracy theories as at Birmingham – mostly about what will happen to Olympia now it is up for grabs. Will it be bought by the NEC, DMG, a management buyout, a mystery consortium or a combination of any of these? Great fun to listen to but possibly a cause for some unease in the trade.

It must be said that a good many, if not most, dealers I spoke to were convinced Olympia would end up as anything but an exhibition centre, and a good few thought that no bad thing. Certainly gossip remains the only predictable facet of any antiques fair.