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However, set against a bleak backdrop of economic downturn and agricultural mayhem, expectations among this year’s 98 exhibitors were muted when the fair commenced on March 21 in its marquee in the grounds of the Duke of York’s Headquarters near Sloane Square in Chelsea, SW3.

But by the time the ninth staging had shut up shop on the evening of March 27, the fair had enjoyed surprisingly buoyant business.

Indeed a good number of dealers told me they had had their best-ever BADA.

But since last year’s fair was a watershed for sales achieved, other dealers admitted business was not quite on a par with 2000.

However, I heard no complaints and even the few who struggled got into profit. And all praised both the look of the fair and the splendid organisation by Gillian Craig.

The gate of 16,000 was much the same as last year’s record attendance and, like last year, exhibitors spoke of the “right quality” customer – informed, serious and, most importantly, well-off.

Since all exhibitors are BADA members this is by definition a national fair.

But it has got well away from the folksy brown furniture look that pervaded traditional British fairs of old and attracted a deal of foreign interest.

The top sale of the week was the star exhibit on the stand of Mark’s Antiques from Curzon Street, a massive French parcel-gilt jewel casket, c.1824, which went to a private buyer for some £300,000.

Most buying was private, as with the Queen Anne stool which Suffolk House Antiques from East Anglia sold to a new client in the opening 10 minutes of the fair, and the Neapolitan rosewood and ivory c.1600 cabinet which fellow Suffolk dealer Adrian Klein sold to a South American collector.

Notable furniture sales included the 18th century walnut collector’s cabinet Lennox Cato from Kent sold to an Irish private for around £25,000 and the c.1820 drum table Freeman & Lloyd, also from Kent, sold to a New Yorker for £25,000.

Making her debut, Laura Bordignon from London did well with her Oriental stock, selling her top piece, a Tokyo School figure of a man for £17,000, and English porcelain expert Robyn Robb sold more than half her stock, including her finest work.

One of the great successes at this fair has always been clocks, and this outing proved no exception.

But this year, like last, clocks were just one of many very successful areas.