The Northern Antiques Fair
Among this trio of events, the relaunched Northern Antiques Fair (October 19-22) is likely to be the most carefully watched around the trade. Formerly The Harrogate Art & Antique Fair, it was given a new name following the sale of its parent company last December. Ingrid Nilson of Antiques Dealers Fair Limited was appointed fair director and the show has adopted an older title, first used for its inaugural run in 1951.
With the changeover, there were some scheduling adjustments. The spring run of the previously biannual event was cancelled (the organisers are currently considering options for 2018) and subsequently the dates for the autumn edition were pushed back from early to mid-October.
Now, “it’s coming together nicely” says Nilson, who is overseeing the fair in addition to her ADFL responsibilities. It takes place in the Harrogate Convention Centre and will host more than 30 dealers.
Among them is Billy Cook, owner of William Cook, who is signalling his support for the fair’s shake-up in part by bringing a standout 18th-century Chinese export lacquer cabinet. “I specifically decided to bring it because it’s a real showstopper,” he says. “I want the show to become a yearly event where people can come to see things they wouldn’t be able to see every day of the week.”
He is keen for any opportunity to sell to clients in the North, whom he describes as “straightforward people” who are “prepared to spend when they find a piece they like”.
The fair continues its long association with the British Antiques Dealers’ Association and many of the exhibitors are members of the trade body. BADA dealers this year include 17th to early 20th-century oil painting specialist Atelier Limited, Jack Shaw & Co bringing silver and J Dickinson Maps & Prints.
“Harrogate has been such a mecca for antiques with good shops in the area as well as a variety of fairs,” says Nilson.
Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair
In the South West, the Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair (October 13- 15) will seek to build on the success of its inaugural edition last year.
“I used to think that many of the London trade would not venture outside the M25,” says organiser Sue Ede. But taking over the Bath Decorative Fair five years ago helped dispel the impression. In fact, the Bath fair proved so popular that Ede launched its sister event in Bruton last year to help accommodate a bulging waiting list.
The new event drew buyers from the South West and some from as far away as the US. This year, the trade preview has been extended by an hour to allow more time for the large queue that burst through the door of the fair last year to filter into the venue.
But this is no time to be complacent, Ede says. “There is a degree of alchemy in force at any event” from one year to the next. “You can work as hard, spend as much and one year the fair is an outstanding success and the next year not so much. We are all at the mercy of the economy and the exhibitors are at the mercy of the vagaries of the supply chain.”
Still, a lot of work has gone into ensuring the success of this month’s event. It takes advantage of one of the nearby art world attractions, the Somerset outlet of international contemporary gallery Hauser & Wirth. This year fair organisers have teamed up with Roth Bar & Grill, situated at the gallery, hosting a competition for visitors to win a lunch at the restaurant.
And Mark Hill of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow will take a tour around the fair which will be streamed live on social media.
Among the exhibitors showing at this year’s fair are country furniture specialist Elham Antiques, Quillon House Antiques bringing gothic early oak and arms and armour, and Molly and Maud’s Place with a mix of antiques and design.
Chester Antiques Show
The oldest of the three events is the Chester Antiques Show (October 12-15), which takes place in the County Grandstand of Chester Racecourse. It, too, has seen its share of changes since it launched in 1989.
Fair organiser Caroline Penman recalls that when the fair began, “Cheshire had more wealthy farmers than any other county and farmers are traditionally good buyers. Now we have lost the dairy farmers but sheep are doing well, especially on the Welsh Marches.”
Provincial fairs, she adds, have the advantage of being lower-cost for organisers, exhibitors and visitors compared with London events and offer the opportunity for a pleasant day out without having to “contend with unreliable trains or traffic congestions and parking nightmares”.
The winter edition of this biannual fair features 40 dealers with pieces ranging in price from £25 to £25,000.
The event is pitched to attract collectors, interior decorators and home stylists from across the Midlands and the North of England. Regular exhibitors include Midwinter Antiques with 17th to 19th-century furniture, textiles and decorative items, jewellery specialist Thomas Glower and WR Harvey & Son bringing English antique furniture.
A new face this year will be Gemma Redmond Vintage, who will bring a selection of jewellery dating from the 1920s-50s.