Fletcher Wallis was a regular exhibitor at the specialist fairs since they began in 1986 and has been dealing in antique scientific instruments, medical antiques and corkscrews in Portobello Road’s Dolphin Arcade for 40 years as well as the specialist website Fleaglass.
Talking about the demise of the event, he said: “Many of the exhibitors at the fair have migrated onto the Fleaglass website including a number from Europe.
“The site has around 50 dealers from the UK, Europe, Canada and Israel selling scientific and medical antiques from £50 to £10,000 with the most popular for the last few years being microscopes which sell very quickly.
“Good complex surgical sets are also good sellers as are early 17th and 18th century instruments. Drawing instruments and calculating devices are popular.”
Wallis added: “I am looking forward to the summer’s trading in Portobello and hopefully the return of European and American buyers who have been much missed.”
One of the organisers of the scientific instruments fair was Matt Nunn, who joined forces with dealer Keith Petts to launch the specialist auction house Flints in 2017. Based in Berkshire, the auction house runs regular sales of antique scientific and medical instruments.
Petts said: “In the medical field it’s the best quality items where demand has remained strong. Large and original domestic medicine chests and good 18th/19th century surgical instrument sets.”
New trends? “Young buyers with a taste for the bizarre. Human skulls used as teaching aids for students fetch very good prices even though the market has contracted geographically since Brexit – taking human remains through Customs can be less than straightforward.
“Scientific instruments, traditional brass and glass are perennially popular and here we have achieved some record prices.”