REGIONAL dealers’ associations have become an integral part of the British trade over the past couple of decades and the first of them, the one that set the mould for all the others, the Cotswolds Antique Dealers Association this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Part of the celebrations centre on their sixth year of autumn exhibitions, a highly successful initiative involving members mounting special, themed selling exhibitions in their shops over two weeks in October.
Americans in particular have travelled over especially for these CADA shows which have become a major autumn attraction on a par with the better autumn fairs.
This year 18 Cotswolds shops and galleries are holding shows, but, of course, all 47 members (and the many local non-members) benefit from both the heightened profile of the Cotswolds trade and the influx of paying customers.
I will mention most, if not all, of these shows over the next couple of weeks, starting with the one showing
at Christopher Clarke Antiques,
The Fosseway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire from October 11 to 25.
Over the past three years Sean Clarke, the head of the firm and chairman of CADA, has worked on a unique speciality, campaign furniture, and more and more of his stock has been given over to this area.
Last autumn’s CADA exhibition At Ease Gentlemen deservedly won the BACA Award for best in-house exhibition so Sean continues the theme this year with The Portable Empire: Campaign Furniture and Travel Equipment of the 18th, 19th and Early 20th Centuries.
Some 90 varied items will be on
sale at prices from £65 for a small mirror up to £5950 for a campaign secretaire table.
The rapid spread of the British Empire encouraged cabinetmakers to produce often highly inventive camp furniture which could be folded or packed away with the minimum of fuss.
The Victorian travel writer Francis Galton wrote “the luxuries and elegances practicable in tent life are only limited by the means of transport”. With abundant local camp followers generally transport was not a big problem so officers and gentlemen would have a tent life comparable to a comfortable home life with full dining facilities, four-poster beds and even a shower.
Smaller items like inkwells, cutlery and candlesticks are also covered in the Stow show whose highlights include a tripod chess table with telescopic stand that packs into a box the size of a book, the aforementioned Sheraton period secretaire table which is the most expensive piece in the exhibition, and an Arts and Crafts chest of drawers that packs completely flat.
During hard times, developing this niche has paid off handsomely for Sean, who is certainly Europe’s if not the world’s leading dealer in this field. He has been putting stock aside for this month’s show since last October, and much of it can be seen in the fully illustrated catalogue now available.