At this year’s final staging of Art & Antiques for Everyone (AAfE), exhibitor Mark J West Antiques brings a medieval glass flask for £12,500. Offered with no restoration or damage, the flask was made in 14th century northern Italy.
A fine example of its kind, it was once in the New York collection of Eric Martin Wunsch (1924-2013), who amassed rare glass along with American furniture and Old Master paintings.
Though some of the collection was sold at Christie’s in 2013, the Wunsch Americana Foundation still holds major pieces, some of which are on display at major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
AAfE, which runs from November 28-December 1 at Birmingham’s NEC, offers a wide selection of art and antiques, as well as advice from industry experts.
Organiser Dan Leyland of MaD Events says: “The fair has the unique appeal of bringing together dealers from all levels of the antiques world, from dealers with galleries in London’s West End showing their finest works to occasional dealers with a passionate desire to buy and sell all kinds of unusual items.”
Exhibitors are divided into two collecting areas. In Section One items are not datelined but all are of ‘exceptional quality’. For Section Two, most stock must pre-date 1970. Both are fully vetted.
MaD Events took over the fair from long-time owner Clarion Events before this year’s summer staging and has introduced a new pricing policy, reducing rates for stands in both sections. It seems to have paid off, attracting some fresh dealerships such as Fontaine, and other returning businesses such as Rowles Fine Art and Mark Hill.
They are among 200 exhibitors at this staging, including Brian and Sue Carruthers of Bac to Basics Antiques, who have stood at the fair for 30 years. Two themed displays will be on their stand: Christmas Gifts for Good Children, featuring children’s nursery china and pottery from the early 20th century, and Dazzling Doulton. Meanwhile, Richard & Janet Parker will devote its stand to Ruskin Pottery.
Ceramics is often a popular collecting category at the fair. Among the examples on offer this time round is a c.1905 jar in the form of a gorilla by James ‘Arty’ Hartshorne, artistic director of the Salopian Pottery. It was modelled by Hartshorne himself and is one of only a handful known to have survived. The jar is thought to portray a local figure or even Charles Darwin, possibly lampooned here by the Methodist potter. It is available for £345 from Chester’s Farm Antiques.
Highlights elsewhere in the fair include a needlework sampler worked and signed by Jane Elizabeth Hussey, born in Bath in 1812. Records of her life show that, despite early efforts in elegant needlework, she went on to have a criminal record. She spent three months in prison in 1841 for stealing and another six months at Shepton Mallet Gaol in 1860 after taking two sovereigns from a James Furnell. The sampler is offered now by Hiscock & Shepherd for £375.
On the stand of Deco Dave there is a globe lighting fixture by René Lalique in the rare Nanking pattern, which was created for the 1925 international exhibition in Paris. Offered for £5750, it will be the centrepiece on the stand, mounted on an original period fitting with a chain.
During the fair, Judith Miller (above), editor of the Millers Antiques Guides, celebrates 40 years since the launch of the series. She began collecting in the 1960s while still a student and is a regular on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Throughout the event she will give talks on collecting – and perhaps indulge in a little herself.
“When I attend the NEC my husband will say as I leave home: ‘Repeat after me, we do not need one more single chair!’ – which of course I ignore,” she says.
“At the last Antiques for Everyone fair I bought an unusual 1930s Monart glass vase and a beautiful pair of Georg Jensen silver earrings. I still buy ceramics when I see something unusual but am also fascinated by much of the glass produced in Murano in the 50s and 60s – particularly the Venini birds.”