Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

In the early 1990s, a summer fair was marketed with the phrase Antiques for Everyone. The name stuck and soon became the official title of the event, running three times a year.

While the NEC has been a popular destination for fairs dating back to the ‘80s, Classic Antique Fairs stepped into a gap left by Art & Antiques for Everyone, which had its final edition in 2022. 

Organised and conceived by ceramics dealer and collector John Andrews, the choice to revive the fairs has been embraced by an array of traders who have a healthy history with the venue and strong relationships with collectors in the area. Andrews’ enthusiasm for this event shows a confidence in the fairs market and faith in the tangible retail experience that can only occur between buyers and dealers when they’re under the same roof.

In a nod to the area’s heritage, Classic Antique Fairs has a strong focus on ceramics. This emphasis suits Tom Smith of Midlands based Dovecote Antiques, who specialises in the field.

Smith started trading at the jaunty age of 22, but cautioned ATG for referencing his youth. “After 13 years, I’m not really a ‘new kid’ anymore. I wouldn’t want you to fall foul of the Trade Descriptions Act.”

In reference to this year’s fair, he said: “We do the searching for fine pieces, so our customers don’t have to. They come to a show like this and find everything beautifully displayed by knowledgeable dealers. It’s a great buying experience. I’m really going for it this year.”

For this fair, Smith will be serving some of his wisdom and maturity via a Minton plate, painted by the pottery’s highest-paid artist, Antonin Boullemier. It dates from 1873 and he’ll be accepting offers in the region of £1000.

Decorative plate with painted Victorian era lady

Minton plate painted by Antonin Boullemier. 1873. Offered for around £1000 by Dovecote Antiques at Classic Antique Fairs.

Also returning to the NEC is Callum Jackson of Jacksons Antique. He’s offering a Japanese Meiji period (1868–1912) cloisonné enamel koro (incense burner) by Tsukamoto Hikokichi c. 1910. It’s at £4250.

He’s also floating the idea of an Austrian cold painted bronze galleon ship, stamped Namgreb (Franz Bergman) and electrically fitted for a lamp. c. 1895. £9500.

Cynthia Cunningham of Wigs on the Green specialises in silhouettes and small portraits. At this year’s fair, she’s presenting a miniature portrait of George Engleheart, a noble gentleman in a teal blue coat c.1775. The frame is set with circular-cut diamonds and it’s being offered at £3250.

Andrew Muir, one of the UK’s leading dealers in Clarice Cliff and 20th century ceramics is back at CAF this year. Want your orchids in a statement receptacle? Muir may be your man. He has an enamel on copper vase by Camille Faure for Limoges, c.1925, at £4500 and a 1912 Rene Lalique electric blue ‘sauterelles’ (grasshoppers) vase at £15,000.

Light blue vase decorated with grasshoppers

1912 Rene Lalique ‘sauterelles’(grasshoppers) vase , available for £15,000 from Andrew Muir at Classic Antique Fairs.

David Harvey of W.H. Harvey & Co is the subject of next week’s 5 Questions in ATG and he’s also offering a mahogany Gillows George III library secretaire cabinet c. 1725 for £25,000.

Berlin Walls Gallery is making an appearance and is known for focusing on the monotype prints of Walter Lindner (1936-2007). Simon Hearnden stumbled across Lindner’s work in 2006 while browsing in the German capital. He bought the entire collection of the underground artist using proceeds from the sale of his then home in Roke, near Benson.

After this gamble, he quit his graphic design business and now focuses on selling the work of Berlin artists under the banner ‘Dare to be Different’.

Hearnden said: “Lindner’s artworks and prints continue to attract significant interest wherever they are displayed. The techniques and use of materials, as well as the subject matter, humour and even melancholy, attract other artists.

“I am always pleased when an artist comes back to find me and tells me how Walter Lindner helped change the way they paint or make prints. It happens regularly and that makes me happy.”

At this year’s fair, he’s offering a hand-worked monotype by Lindner. It’s 8 x 8in (20cm x 20cm) and unsigned, but came from the artist’s studio, when Hearnden bought its contents in 2006.

He also has a linoblock test print by Helmut Göring, art teacher of classical modernism and surrealism at the Kaiserslautern Art Academy during the 1950s. It was produced c.1950 on newsprint. Image area 15 x 16in (38cm x 40cm), signed and framed. It is priced at £1850.

Complimentary tickets for Classic Antique Fairs can be snapped up via the website. For those planning to drive, it might be wise to take advantage of a reduced parking rate of £8 for CAF events at the NEC by pre-booking on the NEC website. This works out as a reduction from £18.95 on the day.

Classic Antiques Fair runs from Friday July 12 - Sunday July 14 at Birmingham NEC (Hall 10)