Scheduling conflicts with the Cheshire golf resort that serves as the venue for the event meant that it had a hiatus last year. Now, with its return, Antiques Dealers Fair Limited (ADFL) has a total of five fairs this year – and six for director Ingrid Nilson, who has taken charge of the rebranded Northern Antique Fair in Harrogate.
Still, with the Mere fair (February 24- 26) now in its sixth year, it boasts many returning dealers despite the break but remains true to its roots as an intimate, select occasion.
The small, varied selection of stands – organisers describe the event as ‘boutique’ – gives exhibitors, ranging from Contemporary art specialist Lucy B Campbell Gallery to local Cheshire furniture specialist Church Street Antiques, the chance to court the decorators’ market.
Some dealers work to appeal to designers with their selection of stock and the organisation of their stands. Freshfords Fine Antiques, for example, has plans to decorate its stand as a room set, placing pieces such as a George III Hepplewhite period settee alongside a Regency rosewood and brass-inlaid bookcase cabinet.
But there is also plenty for the traditionally-minded collector. Mark Buckley Antiques brings Victorian and Edwardian furniture, Cambridge Fine Art offers 18th-20th century British and Continental paintings and Odyssey sells antiquities from the Classical to the medieval age.
In association with the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the fair also incorporates demonstrations of contemporary craft. Representatives of QEST this year include a letter-cutter, a blacksmith and a woodturner, all of whom will have works available on their stands.
Newcomers this year are Morgan Strickland Decorative Arts, antique lighting and glass specialist Fileman Antiques, jewellery specialist Howell 1870 and J Dickinson Maps & Prints. John Newton Antiques and Shapiro & Co are returning after a break.