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Vagabond’s stand at the latest Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea. Its star piece, a 19th century bronze of the god Mercury, sold in the region of £40,000.

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An impressive 19th century bronze of the god Mercury was among the bigticket sales at The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea, back in its physical form for the first time since January 2020.

The life-size bronze, presented on a veneered breccia marble base, sold in the region of £40,000 on the stand of Petworth dealership Vagabond to a new private client for his London residence. Vagabond’s Joe Chaffer, who sources statement antiques spanning the 17th to 20th centuries, also sold a group of Regency garden statues to another client in the region of £30,000.

“We optimistically increased the size of our stand from 15sq m to 35sq m, letting each of our items breathe that little bit more and allowing a more comfortable environment for people to browse. This proved successful in both sales and client feedback”, Chaffer said.

The autumn fair edition took place at Evolution London in Battersea Park from September 28 to October 3 with more than 150 exhibitors split across two floors catering to both interior designers and home furnishers.

When ATG visited the fair during its six-day run, many dealers expressed relief at being able to stand at a physical fair again and were generally pleased with the level of sales, particularly on the opening day.

Fair organiser Jane Juran said: “Despite everything that might have worked against us – Covid concerns, Brexit issues, fuel shortages, gridlocked London streets, roadworks, storms and, finally, the London Marathon – we welcomed many thousands of visitors to the fair, and we are thrilled it has proved one of the most successful yet for many dealers, in the volume of business achieved.”

Charge change

As a means of recouping costs after cancelled events during the pandemic and to help with regulating entries, the organisers ran a pre-booked ticketing system charging £20 for the opening day and £10 thereafter with no complimentary tickets offered to stall-holders for their clients. Most exhibitors took the change in their stride with some suggesting it brought a greater concentration of more serious buyers.

Among those was dealer Mark Stacey, who described it as “a good idea” which “clearly encouraged visitors who definitely want to buy”.

An online trade shopping service was another addition to the event, set up in the wake of travel restrictions for US dealers. The organisers said the virtual visiting was used by four ‘leading overseas trade buyers’ who between them purchased more than 80 items for export to the tune of over £200,000.

With so few physical fairs taking place this year, the autumn edition attracted several established dealers who would usually stand elsewhere.

Stroud dealer Craig Carrington, one of the newcomers, normally exhibits his stock of Grand Tour and neoclassical antiques at the summer edition of The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, but when the 2021 edition was cancelled he took a stand at Battersea.

A strong opening day of sales included a neo-classical enamelled stoneware urn by Muller of Paris, a company renowned for many of the decorations on the buildings in the French capital, which went to a new private buyer for their country house ticketed at £8000.

Poster specialist Tomkinson Churcher sold a range of posters across different periods, price points and themes. It was the first fair for directors Nicolette Tomkinson and Sophie Churcher, who plan to exhibit at more and felt it was important for dealers to show their support for fairs.

Fellow newcomer Christopher Hodsoll also reported sales including a pair of marble Georgian mantelpieces with an asking price of £42,000 and a pair of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s (1720-78) prints of Trajan’s column to a US customer with a ticket price of £16,500.

Meanwhile, regular exhibitor Gwen Pilard of Quindry in Lillie Road, Fulham, sold an Art Deco marquetry cabinet with mother of pearl to a trade buyer for a four-figure sum, and jewellery specialist Anthea AG Antiques sold a diamond necklace priced around £20,000 to a new international client on the opening day.

The next edition of the Battersea fair is scheduled for January 25-30.