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The spring version, the 88th staging no less, was held at Chelsea Old Town Hall in the King’s Road, London SW3 from March 12 to 21 with some 40 dealers, some of whom have been with the event for decades.

It is a very long fair and has built up a faithful following but there are long periods when the aisles seem to beg for some customers to stop the attendant exhibitors from staring at each other.

However, while five or six standholders did negligible business most others did all right, and some very well. Paul Hopwell, the Northamptonshire country furniture dealer, is a veteran of most quality fairs but this was his first Chelsea and he did good business.

“I’ve made significant sales to a wide cross section of new customers who seem to have great respect for this very traditional and comfortable fair,” he said. Perhaps that remark hits the spot.

Chelsea appears comfortable and not exhilarating. But if sales are made then that is what counts.

Business was above expectations for most exhibitors. Encouragingly, many of the sales were to Americans who accounted for around 25 per cent of sales for a good number of dealers.

Peter Bunting from Cheshire, a specialist in early oak, sold a bureau bookcase to a Texan private and a collection of early horn beakers to a Fifth Avenue New Yorker.

And the traditional Chelsea residents market also seemed as reliable as ever. As one dealer put it, while the fair is seldom full, those who do come are generally buyers.

Making their debut Oriental ceramics specialists Glade Antiques from Buckinghamshire described the outing as “brilliant” with copious sales to London and American collectors. Another newcomer, Linda Gumb from London, was equally delighted with sales to new clients from London, America and Europe.

Many of the Chelsea veterans also enjoyed good business and there seems little doubt that Chelsea does continue to attract buyers who rely on this fair for their antiques shopping.

Business was up on last September’s Chelsea and at 9000 over 10 days so was attendance.
There were murmurs that Chelsea must change if it is to survive. But as it is not broken there seems little point in risking things by trying to fix it. Chelsea again comes over as an old friend, perhaps not very exciting but certainly dependable.