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It is also a favourite with a good many buyers since this Midlands fixture achieves significantly more business than its London counterpart.

This month’s LAPADA Antiques and Fine Art Fair will be held from January 15 to 19 and after a very demanding year it is not too surprising that the tally of exhibitors is well down from last year’s 110 (which was a record) to 81.

But organiser Fran Foster of Centre Exhibitions, who puts the show together on behalf of the association, has managed an impressive roster of exhibiting LAPADA members, among them Adams Antiques, Anthemion, Derek and Tina Rayment, Haynes Fine Art, Judy and Brian Harden, Paul Hopwell, Reindeer Antiques, Nicholas Shaw and Wakelin and Linfield. A welcome addition to the fair is London tribal arts specialists Elms Lesters.

For many years now Mrs Foster has mounted the successful Antiques For Everyone fairs at the NEC, but she has managed to give the LAPADA fair a markedly different identity to the others.

And this month’s staging in Hall 12 should be even more distinctive since it has been redesigned and we are promised a more modern look with a fresh floor plan.

Last year this event followed the lead of other major fairs and dropped datelines, although the organisers insist vetting is still as strict
as ever. Last January the fair did a lot better than expected. It did not generate bumper business for all but in a very gloomy period it had better sales than the previous year and attracted a significant, if small, number of serious American buyers, among them Manhattan’s Kentshire Galleries.

Pictures was one area which did boom last year, with a plethora of five-figure sales up to £80,000. It would be an encouraging enough start to 2003 if this year’s Birmingham LAPADA does at least as well as last year. Admission is £10.