Posted on 13 November 2013

New Showrooms

Posted on 15 April 2013

To house all the pieces from our old showrooms and the ex-Harrods pieces Charlie has transformed the Riverside Studios into a super new showroom.  The front is main-stream antiques and the whole of the back is maritime. Now we just have to do some advertising so that people know where to find us.

New beginnings

Posted on 04 April 2013

Hello - sorry about the months of 'radio silence' but we did an autumn exhibition for Harrods complete with a catalogue which kept me busy. Although not exactly a secret we tend not to publicize ourselves while exhibiting there - but rather operate under the Harrods Antiques Department banner. However we moved out again in February to set up back here in Lymington.

Majestic opens

Posted on 02 December 2012 this.


Posted on 01 December 2012

The big news this week is Majestic Wines opening in our old showroom on Friday - just in time for Christmas.  From this ....

Harvey Nicks

Posted on 11 November 2012

Harvey Nicks meanwhile seemed to focus on the exotic Orient in various jewel colours.

Christmas windows

Posted on 11 November 2012

As we were staying in the Royal Thames I walked 'home' and took (blurred) photos of the Christmas windows for Alex - our fashionista.  Harrods theme was all the heroines from Disney - but I am not sure who this one is...Mulan?  My favourite was the Aladin window with a flying carpet but there were so many other people taking photos I couldn't get a good shot. 

The Hare with the Amber Eyes

Posted on 09 November 2012

As I was leaving I noticed that the saleroom was set up with a screen and evidence that there was about to be a lecture - it turned out that Edmund de Waal was to speak and I am very sorry I missed the tickets (it was a sell out) as his book 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes' is the most fascinating thing I have read for years.  It is a MUST for anyone who enjoys a good story, which is true, a fascinating family history and fine art.  I read it with a laptop next to me so I could look up all the works of art, the houses and the people mentioned in it. If you haven't read it yet - do.

Sale Viewing

Posted on 09 November 2012

Tuesday dawned and, as ever, two things fell on the same day.  First Nina and I went back to Nether Wallop for the Christmas instalment of the Aga Lady's brilliant instruction.  It was perfect for Nina who will be a chalet host during Christmas week and amongst the turkey, chicken in marsala, beetroot risotto (my favourite)  etc she learnt how to quickly and cheaply make her own spiced nut pre-dinner nibbles and the most divine (and easy she tells me) mincemeat shortbread.  The benefit for me is largely eating as we will all be staying in Nina's chalet for that very same week and can check on how well she has adapted the recipes for the altitude and a normal cooker!  Then we sat down and ate our way through the 10 or so dishes we had seen prepared, with wine selected by Sarah's husband.  THEN Nina drove me to Winchester station and I was in South Ken by 3.50 which was a miracle of railway efficiency.  (Isn't it brilliant when one can hand over the reins to the kids - Nina also did the school run, looked after Ed overnight and popped him back to school next morning - for a fee.)

Meanwhile the Christie's sale was very interesting - prices for Kakiemon have become more reasonable, they had wonderful lacquer too and whole sections of modern art - I loved a silvered metal polar bear and a very dramatic red and black lacquer fan-shaped vase, but in the end I left only one price on a cloisonne box but as it was below the low estimate I do not expect to buy it.  One estimate left my head spinning however - the back cover piece - a mixed metal gourd vase of fabulous quality for £120,000 -140,000  (the same estimate as a PAIR of kakiemon shishi (lion dogs)!!

Asian Week

Posted on 09 November 2012

Well it's Asian Week in London and every single gallery, show room and auction house from Newbury to Chelmsford is holding a Chinese sale, exhibition, show or whatever. Christie's South Ken had a huge Chinese sale the same day as a Japanese sale with a catalogue as thick as a doorstep so let's hope there is enough interest - and money to go round.  Even I have jumped onto the bandwagon and put some cloisonne vases into South Ken.

Wallrocks first Exhibition is a Resounding Success

Posted on 06 November 2012

This blog has been 'off air' for so long as once again the computer has been playing up.  This time is it my recurring problem of losing all internet for 2-3 days until I pester Talktalk sufficiently for them to turn it back on again and then we had a power cut for a day.  Anyway the great news this week is that 'Wallrocks' in Brisbane, run by Charlie's brother, sister in law and neice have just had their first show.  They put room settings into the ground floor of their warehouse, hired a celebrity chef and put articles in the local papers and hey presto - a great evening was had by all.

You may remember the photo earlier in this blog showing the lads cramming furniture into yet another container - this was the bulk of the furniture for the show which Charlie and Nick bought jointly.  So far 6 pieces were sold through the pre-show advertising (helped - I hope by my cataloguing and Chris Challis's photos) and then 3 more pieces sold on the night and at least 4 more reserved.  An excellent start, not least that we can claim back VAT on things we sell abroad.  WELL DONE NICK, MARGARET AND JESS!

And what would Henry VIII have thought?

Posted on 31 October 2012

Well I am sure he would have approved of the banquet - 90 of us on two tables - and the excellent wine, but he would not have been satisfied with a mere four courses, and very delicate ones at that butternut squash amuse bouche followed by sea bream for example, no stuffed swans or wild boars or suckling pigs.


Posted on 31 October 2012

One of the entertainments, in keeping with the castle, was a recital of period music by this group of musicians - they did tell us the name of the extremely long biwa type instrument but I have forgotten it. At the end of the evening the disco only played 'house' music so we went from one musical extreme to the other.

Leeds Castle

Posted on 31 October 2012

Finally!  I am back! I have spent a couple of very frustrating weeks totally unable to access this blog from my own computer.  Even those very clever people at Carrera were baffled.  Anyway it took them a week to remove the glitch/bug which was barring me from my own site and then it has been an extended half term with Hampshire breaking up a week before Somerset.  BUT we did all get together, including Alex from Plymouth, to go to a joint birthday party in Leeds Castle.  We were there from Friday tea to Sunday breakfast and pretended we were Tudor nobility at the very least.  Actually it was favoured even more Henry II and Queen Eleanor.

Our room

Posted on 11 October 2012

Today we drove home and called in to dealers back in Preston, in Wolverhampton and Warwick.  It all started very well with Charlie buying a desk and some onyx pedestals but then it was rather depressing.  One of the shops we were expecting to visit in Wolverhampton was boarded up and the other dealer is now specializing in pub furniture and fittings, most of which he is having made abroad.  Then into Warwick where Pat Morley told me that there were 18 antique shops in Warwick  when he started out - now he has the last shop-front business.  I bought a frightening Persian mace from him but otherwise we drew a blank. Home by 5. Quick chat to Nina before she went to work and I picked up Ed at 6.  Thankfully Nina has already made supper.

The Inn at Whitewell

Posted on 11 October 2012

The Preston Antiques Centre recommended this inn as a good place for a spoiling overnight stay - I think that many of the inn's furnishings had probably originated from the Antiques Centre in the first place.  Whatever - they were right.  We had the most wonderful room in the old fashioned style with chintz and a four poster and a real 1880 power shower and bath which apparently takes three times more water than a modern bath, has intimidating brass taps and a huge copper rose.  The sign above it reads 'approach with caution'.  The wash basin is set into a genuine Victorian wash stand. We had a proper tea and later supper in the bar with no less than three log fires going, someone in the corner playing black gammon and dogs lying around the place.  My pan fried chicken livers were divine - people always use the phrase 'melt in the mouth' but these truly did. Our only regret is that due to rain and the wrong footwear we did not go onto the stepping stones across the River Ribble, which as you can see from the website photos is a great place for wedding parties to have their photos taken.  Knowing my luck and as I didn't have a complete change of clothing I think it is just as well we did not venture across them.

Preston Antiques centre

Posted on 11 October 2012

Wednesday C and I drive to Preston to look through the fantastic THREE floors of antiques there and also view a desk which is being brought down to us from Durham as it will save everyone a lot of driving.  Unfortunately, despite having seen photographs,  Charlie did not feel the desk quite fitted the bill - this is why so many people are wary of buying antiques on the internet - so back it went to Durham and we bought a nest of tables (C) and a lovely diamond section Japanese bronze vase with shakudo, shibuichi, gilt, copper and silver inlays from the centre.

Aga Lady

Posted on 11 October 2012

Nina and I went to Nether Wallop on Tuesday to cook some 'Autmun Treats' at Sarah Whitakers' cookery school.  She knows everything there is to know about cooking effortlessly and cost-efficiently on an Aga. Just what we need with the price of oil being what it is. She made a casserole, a savoury cheesecake, bread, a vegetable bake, a risotto, daal, a tart and crushed potatoes all in less than two hours and in  two ovens without having to cook on the hot plates for more than 10 minutes in total. Very impressive.  Nina however was more impressed with the other guests as one of them had just been filming 'Made in Chelsea' as she is the mother of one of the main stars. (Sorry I don't watch it so not sure who it is she is so excited about - send a comment if you want more info and Nina will reply.)

Rugby Festival

Posted on 11 October 2012

In the event the boys sailed very well and came 5th out of 56.  As always there were groans of 'if only we had done.....' and 'we could have saved masses of time if only we had not done...' when they discovered that they missed first place by less than a minute on corrected time!!! And the trophy is a huge silver one because the whole yacht club starts together and then race round the same course.

Sunday saw Ed in action at a rugby festival - U12 now and his team got to the semi finals so no disgrace there.  I did kitchen duty for an hour and the queue extended through the door and out onto the terrace just about the whole time - we also ran out of bacon by 11am.  There were lots of mouths to feed as you can see from the photo - 800 players or something - and I only saw the ambulance on pitch once.

Aynhoe Park and Moreton-in-Marsh

Posted on 06 October 2012

Next morning on the road early to the 'Modern Grand Tour' sale at Aynhoe Park. It is a beautiful house and now a hotel - Kate Moss had her wedding there - but inside it is very strange indeed.  Everything is dramatic, a pastiche or just whacky.  Every room has something stuffed somewhere - the dining room has half an elephant, half a giraffe and numerous other halves sticking out of the walls.  The gruesome centre piece on the massive table is a stuffed white foal with a fake unicorn horn attached.  It was curled up and Nina, our most 'horsey' daughter, noticed at once that its legs had been broken to get it into that pose. Other rooms have alligators as table supports, zebras wearing hats, stuffed pekingeses in glass cases and a full size python curled up between the two sofas.  The piece we had gone especially to look at was a Japanese lacquer table with red and black carp supports which we underbid at Chatsworth 2 years ago for alot of money.  There it was again but this time with a modest estimate of £10-15,000.  In the event we decided that it wasn't for us after all, so we did not leave any bids and headed west to Moreton.  We visited a couple of new antiques centres and this time it was Nina who found an inkstand with jockey's skull caps as ink well covers and a horseshoe pen rack - she just had to buy it of course - but will she really sell it to help fund her gap year or will it find itself onto her desk....? Final stop at the Blanchard Co-operative where C bought a coffee table, although much of their stock was in London at the Decorative Fair.  Back home for the Beeleigh end of season curry dinner - mild (made by me),  very hot red (Nina) and medium Thai green (Charlie).  Will the crew be fit to sail tomorrow?

Oxford Brookes and Gee's

Posted on 05 October 2012

Then a guided tour round Oxford Brookes to see if Nina would like to go there next September. It is very impressive with masses of new development and we had a very enthusiastic guide who did an excellent sales pitch. We left her there meeting all her Millfield ‘fresher’ friends who could tell her the real story and dug around in some antique shops where I found a ‘Victory’ copper plaque which we bought and then sold over the internet within an hour! Technology is extraordinary. Finally an absolutely DELICIOUS dinner (caramelised figs and parma ham followed by scallops with artichoke puree in my case) in a Victorian conservatory, (called Gee’s if you are interested) where we were joined by Liam for his 19th birthday champagne. He is the young man who has produced every one of my catalogues and my father’s latest book and has brilliantly got himself into Somerville College. Imagine having a birthday on your second day at Oxford! We finished with Scrabble round the fire in the hotel as winter has evidently arrived.


Posted on 05 October 2012

On to the Japanese gallery and the reason I was keen to get into the museum – they bought one of my Satsuma pieces by Makuzu Kozan. And there it was, large as life, in the FRONT corner of the cabinet. A proud moment.

More Safavid blue and white

Posted on 05 October 2012

Note the elephant spout kendi in the middle.

Safavid dishes

Posted on 05 October 2012


Posted on 05 October 2012

We set off for a couple of days of combining business with pleasure, work with family, etc. C, Nina and I went to Oxford via two restorers in Winchester and made it to our divine hotel – The Old Parsonage – by 11, despite Charlie’s satnav leading us into a closed market square and then a veritable warren of one way streets. C & Nina took advantage of free hotel bicycles and I walked down to the Ashmolean on a mission to see the new Islamic and Far Eastern galleries. They have all been beautifully done. The first space is dedicated to the influence of Chinese designs on the West, especially in the field of ceramics. They have cleverly found European copies of numerous Chinese and Japanese pieces and placed them side by side – actually it is very confusing to sort them out when you are only looking through glass as the best way to tell hard paste from soft paste is by feel – or by looking at the backs – which of course are not visible in the display cases. There were examples from everywhere from St Cloud to Chantilly, Meissen to Delft, Chelsea to Worcester and even an Iznik armorial dish next to Italian and Hispano-Moresque ones. But where was the Safavid Persian blue and white? I went through the display twice and couldn’t find any so here is a Persian kendi copying the Japanese and Chinese ones on display. Also a shot of the huge blue and white chargers in soft paste which to my mind rival any of the European efforts to imitate Chinese hard paste.

Posted on 03 October 2012

Posted on 03 October 2012

50 years of James Bond

Posted on 03 October 2012

The plan was to go up to London to view sales and visit the V&A to see the new Islamic and Japanese galleries - if they are open.  In the event I got totally side- tracked in Christies South Ken.  They had a good general sale alongside an Islamic one and I was absolutely stunned at the Islamic prices.  They were so topsy turvy.  Beautiful 16thC Iznik dishes were estimated the same as rustic pottery bottle vases from a Turkish town called Chennakle. 12thC pottery or metal bowls, even with lustrework or silver inlays were a tenth of what they were 20 years ago. Tragic.

Meanwhile the entrance foyer was all set for the sale of James Bond memorabilia on behalf of UNICEF.  There were actor's chairs, clapperboards, clothes and some of the plastic 'ice' furniture from the Ice Dome.

GoKarting Party

Posted on 30 September 2012

We had 8 for this epic event in Eastleigh and then pizza and home for a sleepover and cake. It is much easier now that parties don't involve everyone, or at least  every boy, in the year. They were very well behaved and even got to sleep before 1am. Then rugby training at ten this morning and honey gathering for me.

I have lost one hive completely this year and my strong hive swarmed twice so I wasn't expecting to get much - just as well as there were only 5 frames worth taking.  With Nina's help we scrapped off 15 jars.  This is not the same as spinning honey in a centrifuge because you don't get clear honey, you get honey all mixed up with the comb and some of it has crystalized already. Those bright yellow fields of rape in the spring are a mixed blessing for beekeepers, while they provide an early source of food rape honey crystalizes within a couple of weeks so unless you take the honey at the end of May it is not liquid enough to spin off.  I didn't want to take any honey early this year because the bees had been struggling with the wet weather (well so I thought but they swarmed very early in May so they must have built up more supplies than I thought.)

Dash to Dorchester

Posted on 30 September 2012


C in London for the first part of the week and then Edward's 12 birthday on Wednesday - poor thing he had a very quiet birthday breakfast with only me and about 3 presents - the party is on Saturday.  Friday saw us dash to Duke's of Dorchester to view the sale of property from Marian, Lady Rootes, amongst other things. Having left by 7.30 am to view before the sale began we were surprised to find the door still locked at 8.45 - inside everyone was on hands and knees or wielding vacuum cleaners as they had had a window broken over night and there were shards of glass sprinkled all over the place - even on the opposite side of the room.  Annoying as it must have been they were lucky large chuncks didn't chip a table surface or smash some of cut glass and porcelain laid out below.  In the end we didn't buy as much as we hoped. I really liked a wooden box, rather like a cellaret or knife box, which had a large parquetry panel of burr woods on the top - although just in segments it actually looked like a Union Jack.  Inside, rather than dividers for bottles it was leather lined with four layers of cotton reels. Sadly the hammer fell above my price.  Likewise the furniture C liked. We did however buy some good glassware.

Back in Lymington in time to sign (with 19 others) 1400 Christmas cards for a charity. Our reward for risking writer's cramp was a delicious curry lunch and lots of chatting (despite constant nagging of don't talk -write). I was just telling the lady on my right that Nina has signed up for a chalet job in some village called Tignes les Besieres when she told me she has had a chalet in that very village for the last 10 years. What are the odds on that happening?  I tried to find out all I could from her about the resort - it is superb for skiing but not really for night clubbing and, typical parent, now feel much happier that I know someone near where she will be just in case ......... 

The smaller stand

Posted on 22 September 2012

The Larger Stand

Posted on 22 September 2012

Charlie and Tim are now alone running the two stands between them.  This is our main one - I sold a relic cane from the Royal George from this one on Wednesday. We have a collection of relic canes (made from the actual wood and scaps of metal, often copper, from famous ships.)  The oldest is a sword stick from the Mary Rose, then Foudroyant, Royal George, Victory and HMS Lion from the Battle of Jutland.

The Queens Diamonds

Posted on 22 September 2012

Day two of Olympia and Nina and I fill in the hours between breakfast and the show opening at 11 to trot round Buckingham Palace State Apartments with the bonus of an exhibition for the Jubilee of the Queen's diamonds. It was a model of efficiency with large crowds marshalled through airport style security and given free audio tour headphones. If you go at the pace of the audio I think you can take 90 minutes but Nina was not really into who painted all the pictures and I was more than capable of drooling over the incredible furniture shown in abundance in every room so we took about an hour and with a brisk walk up through Green Park arrived on the dot of 11am

The diamonds were brilliant - literally - and the highlights were 7 of the 9 major stones from the Cullinan Diamond (the other two are in the Crown Jewels which remain safely in the Tower).  There were also numerous brooches, necklaces, crown, tiaras etc and a diamond encrusted Indian sword.


Posted on 20 September 2012

Charlie and crew left at 4am Monday to set up our stands at LAPADA  (on Thursday we were given another space to fill so TWO stands once again).  Luckily both are quite small and we are only taking maritime works of art but the wall spaces have to be filled so there is alot of drilling and hanging to do. Tuesday morning Charle vetted and then 3pm we were off with a champagne Press Reception followed by more champagne for the VIP guests til 9.30. Nina and I had come up by train to help Tim and C.  

The marquees (3 of them) were amazing with an upper floor restaurant this time!
Then there are the trees merrily growing THROUGH some of the stands - don't you just love it! and de Gourlay had added white wallpaper with floating pink cherry blossoms as a back drop – very clever. I was also bowled over by the flowers, 10-15 feet in diameter they had been suspended from the trees and were like vegetal space ships hovering above the vast champagne buckets .  I have tried to get some photos on my phone but have yet to work out how to get them into my computer.

Nina laid claim to the smaller stand just opposite one of the bars and (wo)manned it right through (3pm – 9.30) in 6 “ heels and short cream dress. I don’t
think she stopped talking once. Not only that but she sold 3 pieces, (binoculars, a barometer and the wonderful yacht model pictured) which covered the expenses on both stands so a GOOD START.  Wouldn't you know it but one of the purchasers came from the New Forest - not 4 miles from the shop.


Well done Tim.

Posted on 10 September 2012

In court today - I swopped out of a sitting in August so it has been nearly two months since I last sat.  Trials court (unusually this is my third trials in a row but I find them very interesting so no complaints). We sentenced one who changed his plea to 'guilty' at the last minute to a lesser charge and two full trials - using threatening, abusive behaviour and assault by beating (common assault). I only ground my teeth once and that was on hearing that the Legal Advisors have been told that the various characters who find themselves in the dock are to be known as 'customers'.  Where do those on high get these initiatives from?  (Actually this may be more apt than 'they' realize as my dictionary gives a second definition to the word as 'a person of a specified kind that one has to deal with: he's a tough cutomer'. Quite.)

Meanwhile Tim has been working on the treen snuff box and found its first cousin in the Manchester Museum & Art Gallery!! These boxes are carved from Brazilian coquilla nuts which are extremely difficult to carve as they are so brittle. They are also very oily, ideal for snuff boxes, as this stops the tobacco drying out. Apparently the carving is French, early 19th century.  The body carved as a man-of-war is the same as ours but this one has Neptune and a sea-serpent/dolphin on the hinged top.

Worn to be Wild

Posted on 09 September 2012

After the exceitment of  yesterday we all went to Romsey for the morning. Ed was in the Hampshire hockey TDC (training squad) and Charlie wanted to watch him so Alex and I went on to Mottisfont to see the Kate Plumtree exhibition of clothes featured on the BBC and also recommended by various friends. 

The gardens were bathed in sunshine but evidently not at their best -  they are famous for roses.  We also toured the house as it was when owned by Maud Russell but I felt it was rather sad and faded.  The very theatrical Rex Whistler room is still stunning, tragic that he never completed the furniture desgns because he was killed in 1944, but I find it very irritating to have to look at everything in semi-darkness. I know the National Trust have a duty to preserve their treasures from the damage done by both sunlight and strong artificial light.  I have also followed the saga of them changing ALL their bulbs over to energy saving ones, at huge cost. Nontheless, as student of works of art and furniture, I find it very frustrating when the light is so bad that I cannot actually study any of their pieces.

Upstairs, however, there were no such problems as the art gallery is bathed in light and full of the most exotic outfits with brilliant fabric boards by each piece so visitors can touch the multiple layers and textures in the creations. Alex loved the heron in PVC and satin and my favourite was the kingfisher, above.  To add an extra dimension Kate has drawn each costume from a different historical era.  (See -  yet again a link into the 'antiquey' side to this blog.)  Kate Plumtree - Dress Designer and Textile Artist


Posted on 08 September 2012

Around 2pm the wind died completely so the committee boat came down the fleet and finished the race early.  Humph, we thought, and just as we had sailed our way from 4th to second!  It then took another 2 hours to go nowhere against the tide so we started on the beer, the wine and the picnic. By 5.30 we finally reached the Lymington river just in time to meet Alan Hatchwell and family (Hatchwell Antiques) who were also making the most of the weather for a weekend on the water. Time for another beer in the yacht club where we discovered we had won!! As this is probably our last regatta of 2012 it was a fabulous end to the season.

Mainsail trimming - the relaxed way

Posted on 08 September 2012

Posted on 08 September 2012

A glorious sail

Posted on 08 September 2012

We began with a delayed start as the water was like a mirror - very pretty but not at all helpful when trying to move 13 tons of yacht.  Around 11am though some breeze filled in and we had the best sail of the season with really warm sun and beautiful yachts in all directions. What a privilege.

A glide, a guffaw or a gaggle?

Posted on 08 September 2012

What is the collective noun for a gathering of gaffers?  30 Old Gaffers from all round the Solent converged on Lymington last night for drinks and dinner and this morning there was a race up to Cowes.  The visitors' pontoon was absolutely covered in varnished spars glinting in the sun, red, brown or off -white sails and millions of 'bits of string' hanging from masts, curling round decks and generally getting in the way.


Posted on 05 September 2012

Izzy now delivered safely to her new school  plus horse.  Nina working at The Mill, Gordleton (Les Routiers Boutique Hotel of the Year 2012) and preparing for Bestival on the Isle of Wight and Alex working as a life guard prior to returning to Plymouth Uni...... so Charlie and I took Ed to Portsmouth to buy trainers.  He starts school again tomorrow so life will shortly return to work mode.

Portsmouth seems rather a long way to buy trainers doesn't it but the shop -Alexandra Sports - is recommended for excellent service and very knowledgeable staff.  As Ed has 'severs' (pains in his legs, which are very common in teenage boys when they are growing as fast as he is) we needed serious help with the hundreds of different trainers on the market, all of which seem to carry a hefty price tag.  What a fantastic shop!  The staff apparently have degrees in different sporting disciplines and then 6 months training in all the different shoes and materials used.  We ended up with astro, general and road trainers.  Only hockey, rugby and football boots to go!

Then on to see Tim our partner in the Maritime antiques business (you may remember he had a squashed finger at Olympia) to show him a lovely treen snuff box in the shape of a small warship with a Dutch mariner on the cover.  Then lunch in the baking sunshine at the Bridge Pub on Camber Quay.  After that we bought fresh brill for supper straight from the dockside and visited Tim's other business KB boat park  All in all a good way to mix business with pleasure.

Posted on 04 September 2012

We really aren't doing very well with the technology today as the Newsletter is now too small to read so here is the Standard on its own.

A late 19th/early 20th Century 2:1 ratio Royal Standard with Lion Passant
Guardant in proportion within the field, the tape inscribed 'J Nicholas
Royal Standard'

By repute flown from the Royal yacht and gifted to Admiral John Nicholas,
Captain of Devonport Docks and Superintendant Kings Harbourmaster, Devonport by King George V.

Newsletter 2

Posted on 04 September 2012

Sorry - I realize that I never put the Newsletter onto this blog as I couldn't detach it from an email.  Anyway I have now had it disentangled by my computer wizard (not Liam) at Carrera and the Royal Standard mentioned yesterday is at the end of the page.

Art Antiques Design website.

Posted on 03 September 2012

I hope you have all seen the newsletter about our move (posted on 24th August) because Elliot Lee of certainly has! He has put our wonderful Royal Standard up on his site AND asked me to supply a regular blog for him every month!  First off he is asking for an item on how we do at LAPADA to follow on from the standard - let's just hope we sell it.  I have to submit a few words by the third week of the month so keep an eye on the link above.


Posted on 29 August 2012


The new premises have masses of different rooms so keep getting muddled with the various doors.  Q has his own workshop, the one next to him is split with Con and his upholstery in the front and then a machine room and behind that the kitchen.

New premises

Posted on 28 August 2012

Well we have all moved, some of the bank holiday was spent filling skips and clearing out things like broken kettles, old windscreen wipers, old chair fabric etc.  One really wonders how we kept so much stuff for so long.  Needless to say the shop looks HUGE without anything in it.  It will now all be gutted and rebuilt - just as well as the furniture was also hiding masses of damp stains which would have needed addressing - and turned into a wine warehouse for Majestic.

Riverside Office

Posted on 24 August 2012

Making an office out of a warehouse - the stub walling going in under the watchful eye of an alabaster figure.

Pedestal cupboards

Posted on 24 August 2012

Remember the pedestals C bought while I was at the New Forest Show - here is their official photo.  I am about to put them in my next brochure/catalogue.  

The Commode

Posted on 24 August 2012

This is the commode before the mounts were removed for cleaning and then mislaid!  I will try to remember to post a picture of it fully restored and re-united with the mounts.

New Address

Posted on 23 August 2012

On Friday 24th August we will leave our premises of 14 years at 110-112 Marsh Lane, Lymington. The office, with the ever-cheerful Eva, and the new Lymington Restoration workshops with Mike, Martin, Andy and Peter (restorers) and Con (upholsterer) will all go to join Quentin at

Unit 2, Riverside Business Park
Gosport Street
Lymington SO41 9BB

Email and phone number will remain the same.
01590 677558

The stock, meanwhile, is all being ferried to a secure modern warehouse at Ampress Park Industrial Estate where you can view by appointment - just ring Charlie on 07768 877069.



Posted on 18 August 2012

Our next Fair will be THE LAPADA ART & ANTIQUES FAIR
in a marquee in Berkeley Square, 19-23 September, Stand A22. Please email in if you would like a ticket.


On the Move!

Posted on 18 August 2012

Finally I am back online again.  No we haven't been away - just busy.  The Olympics proved to be compulsive viewing and then the news that we had signed contracts to lease the shop out to a well known brand of retailers came through and they want us out by........NEXT FRIDAY.  Just to add to the mix I have been asked to write and produce a 100 page full colour brochure also by .......THIS AFTERNOON (well that is when my brilliant computer layout magician - Liam goes away again - he only got back from Inter-railing on Monday so you can see we have been busy bees.  I lost two days driving Izzy and Treacle (chestnut mare 15.3) to and from Pony Club Camp at Stonar near Melksham.  She had a great time and did not break anything - last year she came home on crutches but with a cup and a win for dressage.  This year no cup but no crutches either which is really a relief given that she and horse are off to school in 10 days time.    

Olympics Overload

Posted on 08 August 2012

The blog has been very quiet this week as we have been glued to the Olympics - Charlie, Alex, Izzy and Ed were all lucky enough to go to the Hockey yesterday.  They saw Korea vs Netherlands and then a fantastic 7-0 to Australia over Pakistan.  Wide-eyed stories of a hockey ball thwacking into the fence just above their heads when they went out to buy some drinks. All very exciting but rather chilly and so full of people that they did not really explore the Olympic Park area or watch much on the big screens in the afternoon.  Meanwhile I had a super day of luxury cruising on the Solent with 8 other mum sans kids - a great chance for a repreive and a gossip.  Nina goes to the hockey finals tonight - very lucky girl, unless this rain continues.

Another sofa attributed to Gillows

Posted on 01 August 2012

This sofa is more restrained - both in shape and in decoration.

Gillows & Co. were a leading firm of English cabinet-makers, with premises in both Lancaster and London and who, during the 18th and 19th centuries, produced well-designed furniture of the highest quality. Founded in about 1727, the firm thrived by adapting to the needs of a changing society and recognized the potential offered by the expanding middle class market. Gillows became a large company, both designing and manufacturing furniture to the very highest standards, so much so that they supplied the aristocracy and gentry of England at the height of the Empire and on into the 20th century.  Gillows furniture is still prized today for its excellent craftsmanship and high quality timber.

Gillows dolphin sofa

Posted on 01 August 2012

We have attributed this sofa to Gillow of London and Lancaster because of the design and the crispness of the carving.  It is the most expensive of the 3 sofas at £18,000 because of the craftsmanship.  If you prefer your furniture less ornate the second sofa is also Regency mahogany attributed to Gillows but less flamboyant and the price is correspondingly lower at £16,500. 

Sofa so good

Posted on 31 July 2012

Finally got the internet back so managing to put some stock up onto our site.  The upholsterer has been working hard so we have 3 sofas ready.  It is quite interesting to compare the two Gillows pieces.  First though one by Howard and Sons, with a number on the back leg. Howard seating furniture has become incredibly popular, especially done in leather, so buying the original sofas is becoming very expensive.  This early one, circa 1880, in distressed black is priced at £12,000.

Howard and Sons of Berners Street in London were the foremost upholstery maker of the nineteenth century, regarded in the same way as Gillow were for cabinet furniture. Howard and Sons were such an important company that they collaborated with Gillow on several important projects and may have even manufactured pieces of upholstered furniture for Gillow as well as other important makers such as Maple and Co.

Howard and Sons exhibited at all the large exhibitions of the nineteenth century including the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the subsequent shows in America and France. They had the Royal Warrant and supplied several Royal residences with many items of antique furniture, most frequently of course with upholstery.

Although Howard and Sons supplied almost any item for the nineteenth century house and were renowned for their excellent build quality and superb finishing in all areas of chattels and interior decorating, it is their upholstered furniture for which the company is now so famous.

Serena and Venus Williams vs Romanians Cirstea and Halep

Posted on 31 July 2012

They, and Federer, were amazing to watch. Brilliant to see reigning Wimbledon champions close to and although all their matches were pretty one-sided their opponents were really feisty and there were masses of really well contested points and dramatic rallies.  The most impressive thing being actually close to the court is to see how fast everyone hits that ball.  It takes some guts just to stand there! In Court 2 the serve to the backhand court crashed against the back board and ricocheted into the crowd if it was not returned and people in the first 3 rows had to have quick reflexes to avoid a nasty thwack!

NB The two show courts were not even 3/4 full but one reason, I think, is because ticket holders can wander round and watch all the other courts too - like us with 8 seats and yet spent nearly 2 hours on No2 Court in the middle of the afternoon.

Olympic Experience - Tennis

Posted on 31 July 2012

Off to Wimbledon for Olympic tennis.  Everything was perfect, weather, travelling, security checks and the matches.  After all the grizzling from the media I can honestly say everything went without a hitch.  The food stands were excellent, yes there was Coca Cola everywhere but we could fill up our water bottles as promised and, contrary to rumour, we were able to buy a Pimm's type drink. The food was not a rip off at all - excellent salads for £6.50 and drinks at reasonable prices too, then pizza stalls, sausages, ice creams, etc.  The Wimbledon shop had the full range of Olympic merchandise which was quite expensive, £25 for a T-shirt and £65 for hoodies so I bought socks at £7.00 for 3 pairs for Edward to wear at cricket. I would have bought towel but they were really poor quality and quite small for £20. The women's range was designed by Stella McCartney and seemed to be heavily reliant on gold decoration - a bit OTT for everyday at the gym I thought. 

We saw women's singles, Azarenka vs Begu - 3 sets but that was largely because Azarenka served continuous double faults in the 2nd - men's singles (Federer vs Benneteau) and in the doubles ......

Parachute - 5 mins

Posted on 31 July 2012

Free fall 35 secs

Posted on 31 July 2012


Posted on 31 July 2012

An this is what we (well Izzy) did on Sunday.  Her 16th birthday present.


Posted on 31 July 2012

Cricket prize giving while Beeleigh and crew have a wonderful race in perfect conditions and are very happy to get a 5th out of 13. Olympic TV has started.

Stern view

Posted on 31 July 2012

Beeliegh with two similar neighbours.  The only problem with boats rafted together like this is when the inside one wants to get out.  Luckily though we are all in the same class and so will have the same start time tomorrow.

Catching up

Posted on 31 July 2012

Very busy at the moment but the internet went off again - so here we are catching up.  Thursday was Alex and Izzy's turn at the New Forest Show. The weather was scorching.  Friday saw us delivering Beeleigh to Yarmouth for the Taittinger Regatta which was a beautiful sail over with our new topsail but even so we had to put the engine on at the end as we couldn't make up over the tide.  Ed went up the mast for some reason - probably only to scare the wits out of his mother.  There are about a dozen old gaffers racing tomorrow. Then a champagne party on the lawn of the Royal Solent Yacht Club which has a fabulous position next to Yarmouth pier.  There were so many of us in Beeleigh shirts you would think she was a maxi yacht!!

Charlie's purchases

Posted on 26 July 2012

A pair of mid 19th century mahogany pedestal cupboards attributed to Holland and Sons. The doors are left and right-handed and the wood is the most wonderful colour. It was worth the 4.30 start!

The Queen and Prince Philip

Posted on 26 July 2012

Nina and her friends went to the New Forest Show today and saw the Queen.  She is convinced Prince Philip waved especially at her.  Alex meanwhile returned from London after her final stint of internship and reports that the whole place is full of gamesmakers in their uniforms (see below) getting under everyone's feet as they show visiting athletes how to negotiate Bank underground station.  She has also seen lots of national teams sightseeing as they settle in and has chatted to several including two of the Chinese synchronised swimming team.

Just in case you missed the shoes

Posted on 26 July 2012

First video link

Posted on 26 July 2012

My first video-link court where the defendant is in custody and appears on a TV screen linked to a similar one in the prison – the camera is moved by remote so the defendant can watch whoever is speaking in court and we can see him/her all the time on the screen. He pleaded guilty and did not want a lawyer so all was straightforward and we could sentence by ourselves (even though there were only two of us sitting) which we did in about 20 minutes. Brilliant! In the afternoon the gremlins arrived, first we linked up to Winchester prison only to find we were talking to Weymouth! Then the right prison but wrong prisoner. Finally found the defendant but he wasn’t due in the video link room until between 3 and 4pm, by which time his lawyer, who was in court with us, was pulling his hair out. 

Also our first experience of the Olympics.  Well not quite, Christina, one of my bridge four is a 'gamesmaker' for the Weymouth sailing event and has shown us her uniform.  I have to say it looks pretty grim, not just the weird combination of colours, maroon, beige, grey and some orange flashes (apparently the waterproofs for the boating officials are sky blue, just to add another clash).  Call me old fashioned but why can't we use our national colours?  But also the fabric which is all that synthetic, clingy stuff - not a tailored blazer in sight.  Hmmmm.

Anyway how does all this impact on Court? - Simple.  Our second case was using a mobile phone while driving but it could not be heard because the vital prosecution witness was a policeman......who had been called up for Olympic duty. Unfortunately nobody had thought to let the Court or the defendant know.

New Forest Show

Posted on 24 July 2012

Opening day with glorious weather.  We always go very early (leave home by 7.45 so the car is at the top of the car park and there are no crowds.)  We saw about a third - lots of tractor stands for Ed, food halls and the flower tent for me.  I was really impressed with the flower arrangements with an Olympic theme, especially the one in 3rd place with three silver 'sails' on a bed of blue and white flowers for the sailing. We had proper lunch in the member's tent and watched the very smart horses with trade carts, mainly dairy or butcher's carts but totally restored and every bit of brass gleaming.  There were showing classes all around and I felt very sorry for stewards and judges who were in suits and bowler hats. We managed not to buy more than we could carry - just hats and cheese (Lyburn, Old Winchester).

C doesn't really enjoy the Show so he got up at 4.30 and drove to Wales where he sold some things and bought something exciting ... but won't tell me what until tomorrow.

J-class racing

Posted on 20 July 2012

Another grey day with rather grey yachts too but they were very beautiful, even in the rain.  We followed them down the Solent as they went at a amazing speed with a flotilla of marshals, photographers and spectators.  Hopefully the weather will be better on Saturday when we hope to see them come round the Island 'the wrong way' ie clockwise, to imitate the original America's cup, (the annual Round the Island Race is anti-clockwise) so they will be coming towards us from the Needles.

Charlie used to play on Valsheda, the middle yacht of the three, K7, as a child when she lay abandoned on a mud berth.   Also one of his first purchases as a young dealer was the full set of J-class pond yacht models which he sold for a song.  He has always regretted that, but at the time no-one dreamt that there would be the money to revive the class - let alone build a new one (the one in the lead).  Apparently 6 entered this series but we saw only these 3.


Another container, another continent

Posted on 20 July 2012


Australia this time.

Jess, Charlie's niece from 'Wallrock's', Brisbane, wondering how to fit everything in.  Barrie, James and Dean had the solution - take the legs off!


That's neat, that's neat, I really love your tiger feet!

Posted on 18 July 2012

The boys (C, Ed and Tim - maritime) go shopping in the West Country and come back with some weird clothing as well. In this case leather boots with bronze, copper and lead embellishments from a diving suit. What they bought them for I am not sure but C suggested 'cool doorstops'. Any other suggestions in the comments box below please. Joking aside it must have been very frightening indeed to be lowered to the sea bed in those boots with the suit and helmet as well as you would have been absolutely helpless if something went wrong - it took me two hands to lift one. I cannot image how they walked at all once down there either.


Tiger, tiger (again)

Posted on 18 July 2012

Izzy and Becky go shopping - in West Quay and come back with 'onesies'.  Becky cleverly chooses a tiger which matches her hair and is cuddling our large cat who is also called  - you guessed it - Tiger.

Sailing update -we came 3rd so get a coffee mug. 


Sunday sailing

Posted on 15 July 2012

Had a glimpse of sun this morning so went for a quick race in the Lymington regatta series.  Stephen P had his first day at the helm so I took this shot of two classic yachts line astern of us!! It did not last past the first leg but still it looks good in the photo and should be balm to his hands which lost rather alot of skin on a too-rapid spinnaker drop (say no more).  Actually rumour has it that we won on corrected time (our boat is so slow and so old and so heavy that there is a handicapping system, which might be in our favour today.) We await the results online .........

The Olympic torch comes to Lymington

Posted on 15 July 2012

To be fair the heavens stopped monsoon quality rain the moment the torch was lit and as it ran past us but then the rain came again so by and large we all got very wet.  The most exciting part was the 25 police motorcycles with blue flashing lights (you can just make out a pair of them coming down the hill.)

Interiors of Samuel Wallrock's Blenheim Auction Galleries

Posted on 14 July 2012


And even what you find out about your family

Posted on 14 July 2012

Charlie was standing on Ian Butchoff's stand when an older gentleman came up and Ian introduced them. The visitor was a Mr Hawkins who had worked in salerooms all his life.  Charlie remembered him from his days as a 'runner' 30 years ago when Mr Hawkins ran the 'Monday  rooms' for Phillips in their auction rooms between Bond St and South Molton St.  Mr H asked to hear Charlie's surname again "Wallrock? Are you related to Samuel Wallrock by any chance?" "Yes he was my grandfather....." and so the chat went on with it transpiring that Mr H had worked for Samuel Wallrock.  HIs parting words were "I have something which might interest you, which I will post to you tomorrow."

True to his word this amazing 12 page advertising leaflet duly appeared in the post.  Sadly there is no date on it but what an exciting addition to the family archive. The building wasn't that dissimilar when I started at Sotheby's 25 years ago but of course the name changed to Phillips and then Bonhams.  Charlie knew his grandfather had been an auctioneer as we have a photograph of him at a SOFAA (Society of Fine Art Auctioneers) white-tie dinner but hadn't realized he had his own premises and name in imposing gold lettering on the front!!

It is also what you can buy

Posted on 13 July 2012

Apart from buying Sid (as the turtle is now called) at Olympia ,we were also offered this amazing Bugatti cabinet.  Who would imagine Wick Antiques with Bugatti, Oscar Bach, Quarti and Majorelle all on our stand together?  In the past we were firmly rooted in the 19th century.  This walnut cabinet is absolutely typical of Bugatti's work with green glass, parchment, metal discs, plaited hemp, etc - and is instantly recognisable as such.  A cabinet of exactly the same design was exhibited in Turin in 1902.

Its not just what you sell at Fairs

Posted on 13 July 2012

This is the table we sold.  The top had extraordinary spiral mahogany segmented veneers, which are seen at their best when the table is tilted up like this. (Tilt-top tables, even as large as 5 foot in diameter, were frequently produced in both Georgian and Victorian times, to save space or just add versatility to the furnishings of a room.)   

The second table is in stock and is probably a breakfast table rather than a centre table.  Once again the decoration relies on the figuring of the wood, although in this case there is the restrained use of contrasting inlays for the bracketed border.

Camel tables

Posted on 12 July 2012


I am not quite sure how these got here! I uploaded a quite different photo for the website.  Anyway - part of the menagerie - Indian Circa 1890.  78cm high.

Just a tent - exterior

Posted on 11 July 2012

Just a tent

Posted on 11 July 2012

It never ceases to amaze me what you can do with a tent.  The whole structure of Masterpiece is so sturdy and so vast, and with its huge facade of windows and brick it is hard to believe it is all in one tent and will only be there for a few weeks.

Tiger, tiger burning...

Posted on 11 July 2012

.... bright purple

Masterpiece round-up

Posted on 11 July 2012

Sorry to be off the air for so long, but first we had Wimbledon and lots of wet teenagers drooping or dripping about the house and then my internet gave up for 3 days.  Anyway, back on track now with my last few comments on the Summer Fairs.

These three guys were on the stand opposite us - Whitman, HarlemArlecchio and Cristoforo Colombo!  (Dated 1943 and 1996)

Wind down

Posted on 06 July 2012

At last a day for us all to unwind.  After a birthday breakfast Izzy and her friends managed to go donutting in the rain - but then once you are in a wetsuit it doesn't matter.  Charlie got rather cold though.  Alex's friends are now straggling in on different trains and the rest of us just intend to watch Murray.  

Work wise we are still pinging off emails of stock for clients who saw things on the stand or new contacts we have made this week who have shopping lists.  Two sales today - the second small tiller and another maritime piece.

A day of departures

Posted on 05 July 2012

Nina leaves for Greece, Alex and Charlie leave Masterpiece and Izzy leaves St Swithun's for the last time.

Nina departed at at 1am for a Gatwick flight. Then I had to be at St Swithun's to collect all the bags by 9am so that they don't get locked into the houses while speeches and Cathedral services happen.  Then back to shop and cook for Izzy's birthday weekend and end of school party.  Charlie and Alex need collecting from the station as the lorry will do several stops on the way home. At 5 off to Walhampton to pick up Ed who needs to get ready for his end of term DISCO! He goes back at 7pm, Izzy and 6 friends need picking up at Alresford at 7.30.  (Was 4 children such a good idea after all I wonder). 8.30 Ed needs picking up again and I can't send Alex as she is doing the Lifeguard refresher training so she can work at the Rec through the summer. I need one of those 'Mum's taxi' signs in my car.

The final tally for our month's efforts are (with aftersales) Olympia 44 (all objects), Masterpiece 5 (mainly large pieces), Sotheby's major sale this week 5 and Christie's decorative sale also this week 5.  Now we have the summer off and wait for the October auction sales and the LAPADA show in Berkeley Square. Please let the sun come out for the sailing and the Olympics.


Posted on 04 July 2012

Spent the day in court.  I was in a trials court all day, as it turned out each case was domestic violence which is always rather testing, especially when, as happened, one of the witnesses breaks down.  We adjourned for screens to be put up but still it is very harrowing for all involved. Also if you don't get the verdict right you are either sending someone to prison or you are subjecting some poor family to more fear and abuse.  (Statistics show that most women suffer many episodes of violence before they report any trouble and THEN that no-one listens to them until they have filed complaints numerous times.) I say women because they are the vast majority of 'survivors' (as they are now called, more positive than 'victims') but I have sat on DV cases of violence by women on men or even women on women. 

When we went in at 10am  there were THREE trials all listed for the morning.  In the event two of the defendants didn't turn up so we were able to clear one whole case before lunch.  Nevertheless the witnesses for the other two trials waited all morning, were then adjourned for lunch and were only finally dealt with around 3pm.  Considering they were just members of the public 'doing their bit' I commend their fortitude and stong sense of citizenship. (Don't believe all you read in the papers.)

Talking of fortitude, our last case was another odd one.  A teenager had been arrested for drink related issues in Southampton in early June but as he and his mates came from Northumberland he had not been able to afford the train fare back for his court appearance.  Although he wrote to the Southampton court to explain, he was still in breach of bail and therefore a warrant was out for his arrest.  On Tuesday night he walked into his local 'nick' (very enterprising really) and so THEY were obliged to bring him down to trial!  Still if the plan was a comfy free ride back to the South it backfired - the trip took all day.  Having spent the night in the cells, been loaded onto one of those awful vans where you sit in a metal box unable to see out or communicate with other prisoners (I gather) at 6am it then broke down in the Midlands somewhere!  He finally arrived in our Court just as we were going home.  And he was pleading guilty so no trial needed! We stayed on for 20 minutes, sentenced him (a fine which we deemed served in lieu as he had spent so long in custody), supplied a travel warrant for him and sent him to find his own way home again.  As he was very young and evidently rather an innocent abroad (not like many of the teenagers we see) I was rather worried about him and can only hope he navigated across London safely.


Art Deco Dressing Cabinet

Posted on 03 July 2012

One of the things Alex does best on the stand is leap up and open this cabinet every time someone looks at it (Charlie says that is at least 50 times a day now that he is having to do it). It is a brilliant piece of theatre - people expect it to be a wardrobe, or even a cocktail cabinet but in fact is opens to reveal only.........MIRRORS on all three surfaces and inside the doors.  Then Alex presses a  lever et voila! a  hidden section of the cornice pops out and a light comes on. The sides open to reveal the storage in the form of glass shelves and small drawers.  (Sorry I haven't got a photo of it open but it is a devil to photograph mirrors at the best of times and with mirrors on 3 planes.....)


Posted on 03 July 2012



I realize from starting to put stock from Masterpiece onto the website that we have a veritable zoo on the stand.  Two vases with carp, a tiger, a lion, an elephant (sold), three monkeys holding up a table, a pair of camels, an embroidery of black-necked cranes (also sold), a silvered falcon, a bronze eagle and don't forget the turtle (Sid) on his wine cooler.

It is also wonderful that the family are rallying round Charlie on the stand.  Although it is really exciting when people come to chat and show an interest in the stock it can also undoubtedly be very boring at times (not least because the hours are so long and C is not used to being kept indoors for days on end). So he was delighted when Nina rocked up on Sunday morning (straight from clubbing in London to celebrate/drown sorrows at the end of her last ever day at school).  Then Alex did Sunday from 5 onwards as she went up to London early for her work experience in the city.  Yesterday my father (GP) went up and Alex appeared again after a full day in the office - she is also a brilliant saleswoman it would seem.  Perhaps she will earn herself a healthy commission before Wednesday evening.


Cows and cricket

Posted on 01 July 2012

Sunday cricket on a typically English cricket pitch in the New Forest where the cows, sheep and sometime pigs have been grazing all week.  The trouble was the cows thought they should still be grazing.  Then we also played through the rain apart from sheltering under a large tree of course.  We ended up with a very soggy score book and a loss.

Meanwhile at Masterpiece - lots of chatting but no sales.  We did hear though that the Quarti table has been sold again to a museum in the USA this time.  Maybe we will go and see it in its exalted surroundings one day.

Thursday night and Friday morning

Posted on 29 June 2012


We were spoilt rotten with a delicious dinner on a superyacht - not on the Solent as you would imagine but smack in the heart of London, which made it even more of a treat.  It is actually rather strange being on a ship but totally surrounded by flats and flower beds in St Catherine's Dock. 

Then today we sold a bronze elephant first thing but otherwise quiet.


Stand A31 @ Masterpiece

Posted on 28 June 2012



 40 shades of grey!


Posted on 28 June 2012


 Here we are.  All ready to go and the free champagne starts flowing at 10 am and keeps on without pause until 12hours later. We are dead on our feet by then. What about the poor staff.  They walk with loaded trays for 13 hours if you count setting up. Imagine opening bottles for that long - what would your hands feel like?


All smiles as we sold two pieces and another which was reserved overnight has now been sold too. The first piece was the little Quarti table I posted last week.      Remember YOU SAW IT HERE FIRST!


Posted on 25 June 2012

End of Exams Party Weekend

Posted on 25 June 2012

Friday morning food shop - three trolleys as we have a whole group of 'finished exams, finished shool forever' teenagers descending shortly.

Well we ate all the food - and at least that several times over again.  There were between 25 and 15 people for every meal until this morning when we are down to five!  Also down to only toast and jam!! Masses of messing around in the Solent with wake boards and double donuts (inflated tubes) but the weather was cold so nobody stayed out long.  Sadly no bbq on the beach with sunbathing and rounders but fun all the same.  

Charlie (ever the world's worker) left at 6 am on Sunday to set up the stand for Masterpiece.  Today he is waiting for the vettors to go over everything with a fine toothcomb (very strict at Masterpiece and an earlier dateline for furniture than at Olympia).  So far only one minor correction to a label.

Quick turnaround

Posted on 20 June 2012

Blog rather quiet this week as we are trying to unpack Olympia and repack for Masterpiece in 4 days. We have a photo shoot as well all day Thursday and the lorries to load on Friday, stand build Saturday and Sunday as vetting is Monday!  The brochure is out already and looks extremely chic and lot of clients are already telling us they are coming over.  Fingers crossed.

One of the tickets I did today was for this amazing table by Quarti, an Italian who served his apprentiship in Paris from the age of 12 and then worked for Bugatti (you can see that influence in this piece.) It is inlaid with silver, copper and mother of pearl. Very unusual.

Posted on 17 June 2012

Stop Press

Posted on 17 June 2012

Olympia has finished and there was a last minute customer for Japanese items so I am very happy.  Charlie sold Satsuma and cloisonne - some of my Showa collection, which is great news as I have more pieces to come, and also these two little Meiji pieces which have gin-bari (clear coloured glazes over silver foil) vases which are most attractive and sought after - so much so that I was amazed they hadn't sold earlier.

Olympia finishes

Posted on 17 June 2012

It is 45 minutes until the doors close up in London and the frantic packing up begins. Hopefully the Olympia team will get home before midnight.  Meanwhile the home team have had quiet(ish) weekend with the normal riding, cricket coaching and final revision (last GCSE tomorrow.) Today we picked strawberries and then made it into jam and settled down to watch the finals of the Queen's tennis - what an extraordinary outcome - for those who didn't see it Nalbandian (who was winning) kicked the boards round a line judge's chair in frustration.  They flew up and one sliced open the judge's shin.  He, poor man, was in such shock/pain that he actually rolled around on the ground and blood appeared pretty quickly.  This resulted in a code violation and the match being forfeited to Cilic.  The crowd was in uproar - I think mainly because they did not know what was going on.


Posted on 15 June 2012

Tim and Charlie couldn't resist this one.  Nor could a visiting journalist so hopefully this cellaret will appear in 'The Field' August edition.

' A rare, possibly unique, cellaret in English brown oak with a hinged lid made from a whole turtle shell with a carved wooden head. The turtle is resting on a frieze of carved waves, with a corresponding border of waves around the base. The interior is fitted for six bottles. The hinges, escutcheon shaped lock and hidden castors are all original. Unfortunately there is no history with this cellaret so we do not know why or for whom it was made but it could well have been commissioned by a 19thC ship's captain or world traveller who wanted to find a use for his souvenir rather than just mount it on the wall. The workmanship and style of the cellaret date it to around 1830 and the measurements are 28 inches high and 24 inches from head to tail of the shell. Price £36,000.'


Posted on 15 June 2012

Slowly but surely we are making some sales at Olympia.  Two pairs of chairs (one pair shown here) have gone, some ivories and a pair of Japanese vases with carp in a swirl of water.

Queen Victoria had to have one

Posted on 13 June 2012

For her, Mr Magnus created a cream extravaganza.  It is at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and apparently was made especially high so she (although very short) did not have to lean over to hit the ball and thus reveal her ankles.  She and her ladies-in-waiting played every afternoon while Prince Albert played every evening.  The table is in an L-shaped room so the ladies could play cards and chat in the other 'arm' of the room - out of sight but not earshot of the gentlemen.  Prince Albert also designed a specially ventilated ceiling above the table so the cigar smoke could escape and not annoy the delicate femimine nostrils round the corner.

Could have fooled me

Posted on 13 June 2012

Detail of the slate table top.

Magnus tables

Posted on 13 June 2012

Doing a bit better today as I have managed to put up 6 items and it is only 1.30.  My internet connection only slipped out for half an hour as well.  It is a very odd way of working - my internet is so slow (partly living in the sticks I suppose) and the photos from Chris so large (although they are only jpeg size) that I do one entry and then load up to five photos.  In the time it takes to load the whole entry I can iron 3 shirts!  Multi tasking I suppose.

One of the tables I have found today is a very unusual one by Magnus.  I first came across this name when I did a catalogue of billiard tables for Paul at 'Billiard Room Ltd'. Magnus patented a way of decorating slate to look like marble - not just the actual patterned and veined stone (which must have been hard enough) but also pietra dura and scagliola.  He then applied this to billiard tables which he made entirely of slate - what they must have weighed! I didn't even know he made other furniture but this table is signed and has the diamond registration mark for 1856.

Internet Trials and tribulations

Posted on 12 June 2012

I set aside the whole day to enter the pieces photographed before Olympia onto the web site.  Totally hopeless as my internet kept cutting out. I phoned Talktalk no less than three times and still didn't really sort it out.  In the end my day's output was three pieces.  I will post one just to feel I have achieved something!  An English Chinoiserie bookcase, circa 1910, with gilt and black lacquer decoration.

Incidently we came third in the Country Life Object of the Year competition with the billiard table.  Otherwise things are quite slow at Olympia - a few sales every day but nothing major yet.


Posted on 11 June 2012

Hey girls you can now buy your very own knight in shining armour!

RAC Baths

Posted on 09 June 2012

Designed by Mewes and Davis and completed in 1911, The Royal Automobile Club is one of the premiere gentleman’s clubs of London, attracting grade 2* listing for architectural quality and interior grandeur.  Behind the pool there is a luxurious Turkish Bath with five rooms of ever-increasing temperatures, a plunge  pool and relaxation areas.   Revamping these facilites in recent years in the face of competition from more sophisticated spas and health clubs required many practical and logistical issues to be resolved, not least moving all the original plant and the problem of the Jubilee tube line being located 6m below the listed pool.


Green with envy!

Posted on 09 June 2012

While the cats are away (Izzy and I came home yesterday to revision and a marathon laundry session and de-fleaing the cats -sooooooo exciting) the mice go out to a delicious dinner in the sumptuous surroundings of the RAC Club in Pall Mall! C, Alex and GP (my father) are standing in front of the columns of the indoor 'Roman Baths'.


Posted on 08 June 2012

One of the hazards of a show in a large glass building built in Victorian times it that during rain storms they leak!  Alex says they had several to deal with throughout the day. 

At about midday a very pleasant lady looked around the stand, as she was leaving she drew me to one side.  'Do you realise it is raining on your sofas?' she asked. Sure enough a fine spray was covering our beautifully polished leather and wood surfaces.  The Clarion team leapt into action and put a very sophisticated piece of equipment in place - a wooden frame covered with a plastic sheet balanced on the muslin ceiling to catch the drips!! (What happens when the water hits the electrics? Will there be a bang and a fizzling sound from the chandeliers?)


The Nancy Blackett Tiller

Posted on 08 June 2012

Arthur Ransome's own yacht was named after his pirate heroine and we are selling the tiller.  We had the Arthur Ransome Trust on the stand and they asked Tim to come and give a talk about the yacht but I think he has declined far. I googled the N.B. Trust and here is an excerpt from their history of the yacht:

'Nancy Blackett was built in 1931, by Hillyards of Littlehampton. She is 28ft long, plus bowsprit, with an unusual Bermudian cutter rig.  Ransome found and bought her in 1934, for £525. He was at the time in the process of moving from the Lake District to East Anglia, with the aim of doing some sea sailing. His delivery voyage with his new boat, from Poole Harbour to the East Coast, was hair-raising, as his Biography and Letters reveal: gales, damage, and an occasion where the navigation lights blew out, and he used a torch shone through a red plastic plate to ‘frighten off the Flushing-Harwich steamer’ – an incident which eventually appeared in 'We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea' (arguably his best book).  Ransome got plenty of good sailing out of Nancy.'


Swallows and Amazons Forever!

Posted on 08 June 2012

Tim of the broken finger!

Posted on 08 June 2012

The marine stand with Tim pointing to a globe which was sold  - which is why he is looking so happy. Can you spot either of the half hulls we featured on this blog in March?

and then turn.....

Posted on 08 June 2012


The ladies is......

Posted on 08 June 2012

Straight up to the fountain (just past Wick Antiques)

Alex too

Posted on 08 June 2012

Alex meanwhile is doing work experience for the organisers, Clarion, so is really feeling the strain of 12 hours days - despite wearing flat shoes and sitting on perilously high chairs!  She is utterly sick of directing people to the loos - and it is only day 1 of 10!!!

Three generations on the stand

Posted on 08 June 2012

Izzy and my father ready for the off. Izzy didn't work all day as she had a friend's birthday party for most of the afternoon but she did do a very good job trying to sell some Japanese bronzes in the evening. My father writes books on marine artists so he was hovering between our main stand, where we are selling a lovely Clarkson Stanfield, and the marine stand. 


Posted on 08 June 2012

Well YES we were ready in time and NO we did not get it all on the stands.  Still they look great and the whole show looks good with lots of stands and a fabulous light colour scheme.  (But what will those white carpets look like by the end if this rain keeps up?)

Broken finger 2

Posted on 06 June 2012

Poor Tim (Anderson Antiques who shares the stands with us and was doing the Maritme one) broke a finger! He was helping someone else unload a marble table top when the base gave way and marble fell - crushing his finger - the poor porter ended up in hospital with a broken foot - I didn't see it but it is possible that, as the marble began to fall, he instinctively stuck his foot outo to break the fall - but broke himself instead.

This is the Maritime stand with Pete (our restorer from Twyford) up the ladder and James steadying it. Tim is in the first aid room upstairs.

Will it all fit on?

Posted on 06 June 2012

Here we are at Olympia. All unloaded into the aisles.  This is the moment when you wonder how on earth you can transform chaos into order by Wednesday morning (vetting day).

Charlie and the team from the shop left at 5 am so they had emptied the lorries by the time Alex and I arrived at 11 - having left Nina, Izzy and Ed in Richmond with godmother Puff  (she has a girl of 17 and son of 13 so they dovetail with mine very nicely).  A and I helped Charlie and James set up all day and then I left them to finish up because A is working for Clarion Events for the rest of the fortnight as work experience. Meanwhile the girls had been shopping in Richmond and finished up having a drink on 'The Boat' and the boys went go-karting and wind surfing.  Good run home as motorway empty - 10.20pm.  But of course had missed the whole Jubilee Concert.

The Jubilee Pageant

Posted on 03 June 2012

Oooops.  I wrote this and then lost it when searching for the photos so it is now in the wrong place.  This is today's (Sunday's) actual blog. Please google 'WWII Air Sea Rescue Launch 441' to see her wonderful story and how she was ready for the Jubilee Celebrations.  One of our brilliant restorers, Q, works on historical vessels in his spare time and was heavily involved in the work on Launch 441, so much so that he was on board today as she took her place in the pageant. We did not see any clips on TVbut 'South Today' did a feature on the work and the launch last week.

I hope they did not get too wet and maybe we might even be able to post some of Q's photos from the day.  I cannot imagine how the Queen stood for all that time and did not show any signs of being cold when it must have been bitter on the water in that wind.

Olympia highlights

Posted on 03 June 2012

Off at first light tomorrow but have finished the newsletter so here is tomorrow's post.

High excitement on the high seas

Posted on 03 June 2012

Well the cricket stayed dry and the boys won by 2 runs (by dint of the fathers being out if they hit a 6 and only getting 2 runs every time they hit a 4). Everyone was very happy and it was a good social event too. 

The weekend however has been even more of an event.  While all eyes were on the 1,000 ships on the Thames we had our own dramas on the Solent.  Beeleigh was doing very well in the Royal Lymington Diamond Regatta when one of our crew was taken ill - so ill that we had to call the lifeboat and be escorted into Yarmouth where they transfered him into an ambulance and off to hospital.  Fortunately after tests he was allowed home and had to travel back in more comfort  - if less style   - on the ferry. (Beeleigh, although retired from the racing came home at 7 knots.

Today, once again racing in the regatta, the classic yacht in front of us lost her entire rig over the side!  Then our bowsprit began to strain perilously to one side - too much wind  (gusting 30 knots) -  so we decided discretion was the better part of valour and abandoned before we broke something major as well.  Just as we put the engine on to return home - another disaster - a rope round the prop.  We limped back to our berth where Izzy dived in to remedy the situation.  Brave girl! and she didn't even mind having to come home in a full set of men's clothing.

Rain disrupts plans

Posted on 01 June 2012

AM: I can't believe it - the start of the Jubilee celebrations AND the day we are loading the lorries and it is raining, after all this sunshine!  Ed got into red-white-blue for a school mufti day (pay £1 for Help for Heroes) and I did a quick dash to Salisbury to collect a barograph. 

PM: Very efficient packers filled one lorry and two vans quite quickly and the rain was over by lunch time so hopefully we won't have too many water stains to deal with once on the stand. All done by 4 and then Fathers vs Colts cricket at 4.30.  High excitement and dire warnings of a severe drubbing to come (but for which side?)  Nina has prepared a 5* picnic and the school does Pimms so as long as the rain holds off it should be a fun start to the weekend's partying.

The Chatsworth coolers + broken finger 1

Posted on 31 May 2012

I found the photos of the beautifully set table at Chatsworth with their Collis & Co coolers.  The newsletter/flyer is going well and we have discovered a glitch with our new site that some messages have been going into a second spam bin which we do not have access to!! Many apologies if we have failed to reply to any queries - please email again or ring on 07768 877069 as we have now sorted ourselves out.

Suddenly discovered last night that Ed was at the Senior Wessex today throwing the discus. A whole day out of school for 3 throws!  How jammy is that? Followed by more cricket for Pylewell, at home, while Charlie and the crew, including my father and Izzy, go Thursday evening racing.  Plenty of wind and they are talking about spinnakers - what a worry.

We had an evening match of Pylewell basically U11s playing New Milton U13s.  We were thrashed. One of only 5 true U13s (who is actually 11 as well - thanks to being a July birthday) made a diving catch and broke his finger.  I took him to casualty as his father was our umpire but poor chap is off cricket for the next 6-8 weeks - in short for all the remaining season - and as he plays for the New Forest as well and it missing all the festivals he was devastated.



Posted on 30 May 2012

After the great response to the mailshot of e-tickets for Olympia to our customer data base Charlie has asked me to do a newsletter hightlighting some of our best pieces from the stand.  He will then mailshot this to everyone.  Email  if you want to be added to the list or indeed need tickets.

Olympia countdown

Posted on 29 May 2012

While everyone else is counting down the Olympics, we are counting down Olympia. After a 5am start yesterday James and Charlie eventually arrived back at 6pm with Alex sandwiched in the cab of the van and a couple of dining tables, a chaise long and the entire contents of Alex's student flat, from clothes airers to ball dresses, in the back. A hot and tiring journey not helped at all by the several hour closure of the A35.

Still, not deterred, C set off again at 5 this morning - James might decide that being a student would be preferable to this lark after all. Although C mainly wanted to view a sale he also checked out our two stands.  Apparently the Olympia build is FANTASTIC and very full this year.  James was suitably impressed and then C realized that we do not have enough lighting for two stands and a trip to Mr Resistor was necessary. Expensive!

Keep that champagne chilled!

Posted on 28 May 2012

Nina came home at the weekend for a quick break, Izzy on study leave, with today thrown in - lots of leaving to go out, to go shopping, to go sailing, but not so much studying.  Just to add to the chaos - our fridge packed up on Saturday - as temperatures hit 27 degrees.

Charlie has gone to Plymouth in the VAN as Alex has 16 bags or something, plus furniture, mirrors, lamps, etc.  Luckily he had other calls and pick ups to do in Exeter so it should work - as long a everything fits in.  

Beeleigh did quite well in her first Old Gaffers race yesterday (in the end a mix of fathers and kids managed to take her out), by coming 10th out of 27 starters (she was the last boat to finish inside the time limit.) Cold drinks all round. But not served in quite such smart wine coolers as these.  Made by Collis & Co around 1850, after a similar blue set made for Prince Callimachi of Turkey was exhibited in Birmingham, these coolers are in frosted glass with silver-plated mounts.  The frosting of course creates the illusion of coolness even when the containers are empty.  To our great excitement we spotted six similar ones, but in sterling silver, no doubt, ranged along the dining table at Chatsworth when we viewed their 'Attic Sale' in 2010.

Weekend already?

Posted on 26 May 2012

Can't believe we are back to sailing and MORE cricket.  Yesterday we had another photo shoot and masses of packing as the lorries are being loaded next Friday.  This weekend is Old Gaffers weekend in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight,  which is a great event with bands and marquees as well as a plethora of old boats dressed overall and having parties on board - with the odd race thrown in.  Sadly it is impossible for us to get the boat ready with 2 shows so we are just going over to watch this time and no doubt sink a Pimms or two.

Keys found!

Posted on 25 May 2012

Beeleigh went out on the first Thursday night race yesterday and did very well until the wind died - a major problem when you weigh 13 tons.  AND C found the Clio car keys.  They had fallen on the stern deck and were still there after HALF the race - what a miracle.  As it happened Alex posted her keys back to us and we got them on Tuesday afternoon.  The parking wardens had heeded our notice about keys lost at sea and so no tickets - very kind of them.  Less pleasant was the state of the chicken, sausages, baguette, 4pt of milk and fresh orange juice after two days in the boot in the broiling sun so I threw away two parking tickets worth of food.  Hey hum, you win some, you lose some.

Hot weather at last

Posted on 25 May 2012

Super weather and Ed playing lots of cricket.  He got one wicket and 2 catches yesterday, for the school, which was great but unfortunately dropped 2 for Pylewell Park and didn't bat or bowl today which was not so good but as he says 'that's cricket.'  Nina has played her last tennis match for Millfield and has her UVI ball this weekend.  Alex has finished her first year and is just partying until her May Ball on Saturday and then home until September - she works as a life guard and trampoline/ mega mayhem supervisor at our local Recreation Centre.  Only poor Izzy is working hard in this weather - I think there are 5 GCSEs listed today (bad planning but then who would expect one girl to do Greek, Latin and Physics) although she is only doing 2 of the subjects her whole class has to be quarantined for lunch! 

The most summery image I can see in the shop at the moment is this charming picture of girls, blossom and butterflies by the Scottish artist,  Hornel.

Is this a disco ball?

Posted on 23 May 2012

No -  it is a very bling cloisonne vase with a gold foil ground under clear glaze and  two pink and white orchids in musen (raised enamel). Late 20th century but still quite an eye-full.

Razzle Dazzle

Posted on 23 May 2012

I tend to chose cloisonne, either because a piece is totally unlike anything I have seen before or the opposite - I know of another one in a museum collection.  This one falls into the first category and must have been made in the 1950s or 60s.

Namikawa Yasuyuki

Posted on 22 May 2012

This name is the most famous and sought after in Meiji cloisonne.  His pieces go for £70,000 plus.  I bought this vase because it is very reminiscent of his work with the textile motif borders and very detailsed butterflies. It is a most unusual cinnabar red colour.

My favourites

Posted on 22 May 2012

I have lots of favourite cloisonne vases.  My new collection is 20th Century so very different from the traditional sparrows against foliage or flowering shrubs which are picked out in minute detail and were the staple of the Meiji period - this is a typical example except for the purple ground which I have never seen before.

Christmas trees

Posted on 22 May 2012

Ed quite often helps me unpack exciting parcels which arrive from time to time.  Many of these contain cloisonne so he has seen quite a lot of my collection.  This is his favourite - because he thinks these are Christmas trees.  The vase is a good size 10" but much larger in reality than it appears in the photos as it is fairly wide. It is has the Ando mark and the silver mounts are assay stamped.

Quick whizz to London

Posted on 22 May 2012

We ended up buying a silver presentation cannon yesterday but otherwise the sales were full of Chinese pieces in the Asian sales and very little Japanese so I probably won't leave any bids.  However, at the last minute an American client we met in Palm Beach asked Charlie's opinion on a maritime painting he wanted to buy at aution in London - TOMORROW!  Quick dash to London and as we were going we took some pieces for a London client - including the silver cannon.  In the end we decided the oil painting was probably not the right one for our American and having battled with Chelsea Flower Show traffic and a Buckingham Palace garden party (if the smart hats and fascinators were anything to go by.) which closed all the roads round the Mall and Hyde Park Corner we treated ourselves to lunch.  A sit-down one rather than sandwiches on the move.  With Charlie is our summer helper James who has left school and is working with us until mid-July. 

Cloisonne selection

Posted on 21 May 2012

Monday morning again.  Daughters two and three are doing exams as I write.  I have checked the stranded car - no ticket yet - and am now sorting cloisonne. Some of it will go to Olympia, some on approval to a client and some is already on reserve.  This afternoon will be a quick run to view sales in Dorchester and Bournemouth.

The motley crew

Posted on 20 May 2012

First sail of the summer

Posted on 20 May 2012

Beeleigh was launched during the week so we spent Saturday doing cricket and clearing the shop and going to a party dressed as hippies.  Today our shake down cuise in 20 knots of wind which was perfect and our new prop worked, there were no rigging snags so a lovely day.  Marred by losing my keys and a parking ticket on our return.  I fear I will have many more tickets soon as the spare keys to the car are in Plymouth with Alex!!

....and a busy week

Posted on 18 May 2012

Ooop - no post for 3 days.  Well it is always difficult to catch up when you lose a day in court.  Then C was very excited and busy taking van loads to London to furnish some new offices in the city.  Excellent news that someone is once again choosing Victorian desks and lovely leather library chairs for business use and a long mahogany dining table for the board room.  We had a long afternoon at Twyford school on Wednesday watching cricket and I was scorer last night  for the Pylewell Park U13s (Ed is U11 but the older team is short a few players).  We lost the first match but it was respectably close and won the second on the last ball which is always exciting. Two things to note - both were so cold the spectators were in full winter gear and one Mum had snow boots on - and I was scorer for the second match wearing gloves (tricky to write and by 8.45 even trickier to see the players!).

On the work front we are busy labelling, sorting and packing for the two shows so sorry to say I have not added any new stock this week.  You can still apply for tickets from  The photo shows our stand at the 2009 Olympia where you can see it was lovely and sunny.  For those of you desperate to see the end of this rain I will just tell you that there is normally a heatwave for the first 2 weeks of June because C is stuck INDOORS.

...followed by a Manic Monday

Posted on 15 May 2012

I didn't sleep at all well as the news is filled with this horrific boating accident on the river Avon where a father and 3 year old son have drowned and 2 more children are seriously ill.  He was a fellow antiques dealer and we often visited his shop in Warwick - Apollo Antiques.  Everyone is devastated for his wife and surviving children.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to them all.

After that I was late leaving for the school run, hadn't prepared my lunch and then Lyndhurst (our local bottle neck) was reduced to one lane by scaffolders. Next problem was an accident on the way to Ashurst with 2 fire engines, 4 police cars and an ambulance. Two more ambulances passed me on the way in.  This all conspired to make me late for our JPs briefing and I missed my pre-court cup of tea.  Then into a Trials Court with 4 trials listed.  ALL 4 did not proceed for one reason or another! Very frustrating.  Finally we took a case from another courtroom which had 3 live trials listed!  We got down to work at 12.20. We adjourned for lunch at 1.10 by which time the heavens had opened and I was not really equipped to run down into Southampton to buy lunch so survived on 2 cups of tea and two ginger biscuits.  In the afternoon we finished our trial by 4pm  and then had a dangerous dog to deal with but fortunately the owner had admitted it was unsafe and had already handed it over to the police.

Sunny Sunday....

Posted on 14 May 2012

At last a lovely summer's day.  We had lunch and supper outside, I took Izzy and Ed to the Beaulieu (again) to the 'Simply Italian' day so we were awash with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maserati.  Ed also wanted to show me Bond in Motion (fabulous) and Top Gear (I'm not quite such a fan).  While they looked at the swish cars again I went to Palace House and the SOE (Special Operations Executive) exhibition.  Charlie's childhood home was Vineyards, within the grounds of Palace House, which was an SOE training house and the bothy by the tennis court was reputedly used to teach agents how to live 'rough' without being detected.  

On our return the whole air was thrumming with small buzzing insects zooming around in their thousands  - my bees were swarming.  As usual they caught me unawares as I assumed this terrible weather had stopped them getting enough food to feel the need to decamp to more spacious accommodation!  They always seem to go in May or June - as if they know that is the one time when I really do not have enough time to go through the hive all the time or track them down a fill a second hive. Still with the dreadful decline in bees there is  now at least one new colony on the loose.  The main reason beekeepers stop their hives swarming is becuase it reduces the honey harvest so much.  As I still have some comb from 2010 and jars from last year I am sure there will be enough for us.

Finally, after all that kerfuffle, Loius Lawrence (author of the Satsuma book) and his wife came to tea - without any bee stings or further mishaps.

Kato Zenji

Posted on 13 May 2012

Here is the lovely snow scene painted on porcelain.

Fame again!

Posted on 11 May 2012

Just taken delivery of Louis Lawrence's latest Satsuma book - we are going to sell them at Olympia and Masterpiece. It is the most incredible volume - after his previous Satsuma book I cannot believe he has managed to find so many other beautiful pieces.  On my first flick through I found a piece I sold - so in print again.  Actually I bought the plaque in Basingstoke 25 years ago where it was catalogued as Chinese.  It had a seal signature on the back and we worked out it was by Kato Zenji of Yokohama.  Louis has added it to a book dedicated to Satsuma (page 117) as a comparison piece for a rare satsuma plaque by Niimura.

Fame at Last!

Posted on 09 May 2012

Country Life has our fabulous black and gold billiard table in its antiques section.  We have shared a stand at Masterpiece for 2 years with Billiard Room as we co-own various tables with them - including this one.  It certainly has the wow factor.

Crane vase

Posted on 08 May 2012

As most of the good bronzes are going to Masterpiece I think we are going to fill the very big bookcase/display cabinet at Olympia with cloisonne.  I bought this little vase because the first piece I ever sold was a similar vase with white egrets on a pink ground.  I think it sold so well (£1100 20 years ago!) because it was on pink whereas they are normally on blue.  This one however is even more unusual because these are certainly cranes with their red caps (symbol of longevity) and there are these rather spiky bushes in the foreground.

Beaulieu Motor Museum

Posted on 07 May 2012

Bank holiday Mondays can be a bit of  a non-event unless you have planned something special to do - especially if they are wet.  Luckily for Ed he was taken to the Motor Museum where he was actually in one of the cars selected to represent the 60th anniversary of the Museum and therefore took part in the cavalcade.  Also another chance to see the Bond-in-Motion vehicles, the SOE  exhibition, etc. The rest of us worked - Izzy on her French for her first GCSE this week, Nina is at school and Charlie and I did tickets for Olympia (it opens one month today and there are bank holidays all through the set up!)




Posted on 06 May 2012

It is my birthday weekend.  I am very lucky because my birthday often falls on a bank holiday - or election day. The fun started on Friday evening when I was taken to Oliver! in Southampton - it was really outstanding. Brian Conley as Fagin really had us all entranced - especially from the second row of the stalls - fab seats.  Needless to say we were all singing all the way home and arguing about which scene was the best - Food Glorious Food was Ed's favourite, everyone always loves One of Us but I think the best for me was Who will Buy?  There was also alot of comedy in the Fagin scenes which you don't get in the film. 

Last night out to supper with friends so lots of champagne and birthday cake - very tactfully only 6 candles.  Today will be spent watching rugby - I know it is late but as it is absolutely freezing it is quite apt.  High excitement Richmond U11s are coming to play a friendly and as Laurence Delaglio and Jason Leonard  have sons playing they are going to give out our end of season presentations.

Photo clue answer is Porcupine

Posted on 02 May 2012

The table centres at the Inkwenkwezi Lodge were ferns and porcupine quills.  So often with the discovery of exotic woods or materials craftsmen and cabinetmakers found ways to use them in antiques - here we are looking at porcupine quills.  These were usually used as veneers for boxes, especially alongside Indian vizigapatam work. We have also had a Regency letter rack where the spindles were quills.  This basket is very unusual and dates from mid-19th century Ceylon (Sri Lanka today.)

Prize.  If you guessed the link or would like tickets for Masterpiece please send an email as we have 2 complimentary tickets  available - but only those two so email soon.

Lawson Wood

Posted on 30 April 2012

A horrible wet and windy day so adding a few more items to the site. This time Lawson Wood watercolours from his Gran'pop comic series. Check out the 'stock' section. Apparently he drew whole series of these characters for comic books in America and Gran'pops the Orang-utan became a cult hero!  We have seven original watercolours for sale ranging from £1800-2400.  (Actually we did see some monkeys in South Africa but they were Vervet monkeys so perhaps this doesn't count as a link.)

Easy answer 2 + Prize!

Posted on 29 April 2012

The answer to the second question on the quad-bike safari is 'Zebras'.  Those who have followed this blog for a while will know that we send lots of things to the US to dealer friends who do huntin' shootin' fishin' lodge/gentleman's study type  pieces.  While we do not buy zebra skins and couldn't ship them round the world even if we did - thanks to CITES restrictions - this shows their 'booth' at a recent show.  Looks great doesn't it?  Many of the pieces are very familiar - the Chinese red lacquer cabinets, the Bohlin saddle, the screen with the highland stag, etc.  However I can't see the reclining bronze stag we packed up and sent off (see the very first week of this blog).

The prize for guessing either of the links - in fact for reading this blog at all  - is a complimentary ticket for Olympia Fine Arts and Antiques Fair, 7-17th June 2012.  Admits 2.  Unbelieveable but there are less than 6 weeks to go and there seem to be lots of bank holidays in between.  This year we are especially frantic as we have TWO stands and then a week's break before a whole new set up for Masterpiece. The larger stand will be our normal stock while the second is purely pieces of maritime interest.  Alex is working there and I have all three other children home for half-term.  Could be interesting.  How much will it cost to persuade Nina to baby-sit her siblings?

For tickets please email the blog or the address on the main website. (First come first served as we have a limited number allocated to us each year.) 



Posted on 28 April 2012

'The subject matter of Zobel's sand-pictures range from battles and biblical scenes to landscapes and flower pieces, although animals, particularly horses, sheep and pigs held a particular fascination for him. His compositions were often taken from the paintings of his dear friend, George Morland. Zobel constructed his images with painstaking precision and was careful to describe every detail and texture, from the soft fur of a tiger to the rough, dusty ground of the farmyard. '  Peter Nahum

The  pony club daughters reckon these draught horses are blond Percherons.  Do correct us in the comment box if we are wrong.



Pink patisseries

Posted on 28 April 2012

I do love this job.

I was just catching up with the website - after missing two days and because all 3 of our cricket and rugby fixtures (bizarre to play cricket and rugby at the same time I know but that is how it is) have been rained off  - when I catalogued this lovely sand picture by Zobel and began researching him. 

Suddenly I was immersed in a completely different world and, courtesy of Peter Nahum's website,  found out about a fascinating life.  Zobel was a confectioner by birth and progressed from there, via training in painting, 'to working for the Prince Regent as a `Table Decker' at Windsor Castle. The custom of `Table Decking' had been introduced into England by George III, where the table cloth at dinner was elaborately decorated with designs of coloured sands, marble dust, powdered glass or bread crumbs. Zobel became a skilled confectioner and was entrusted with the pictures made in coloured sugars that decorated the huge tarts served at banquets.

The method he employed for making sugar patterns was identical to that which he used to make his sand pictures; that is the sugar, or sand, is shaken through a cut and pleated playing-card. Having converted the ephemeral process of sugar pattern to a permanent form of picture making, and believing that there was a future in it, he continued to make his sand pictures in his spare time. Zobel has the reputation of being the inventor of the sand painting technique, and he was certainly the first to introduce the art to England.'

London Bridge

Posted on 28 April 2012

Great two days away in London.  We stayed in a flat overlooking the London Eye and managed to play bridge on the train, all afternoon and some of the evening before supper in Skylon - what a view from the windows. Super venue but we will gloss over the score as at one point we were 1350 down (luckily we don't play for money.) Next  morning we had a very slow start - 9.30 - which for 7 mums with 22 children bewteen us is a record I suspect. After a little more bridge and lunch we had coffee in this amazing patisserie...... then 4.04 train to Winchester where Izzy leapt on board and we all got home to Lymington by 5.40.  Very civilized.

Incidentally, on the subject of patisseries Benjamin Zobel began life in a bakery as a confectioner...........


Posted on 25 April 2012

So let's wrap up those gods.  They are a very popular subject in Japanese art - both in fine art and in objects.  When they are shown together they are known as the Shichifukujin. Equally often they are found afloat in a ship called the Takarabune or Treasure ship. On this Satsuma vase (sold)  the seven of them are painted right around the vase  - on this side we have Fukurokuju (high head), Jurojin (folded hat), Bishamonten looking very benign with his helmet in his lap and an enchanting portrait of Hotei leaning back on his enormous sack keeping two boys enthralled with his dancing puppet.

No post tomorrow

Posted on 25 April 2012

Sorry but up to London tomorrow for 2 days of bridge with 8 other mums. Back on Friday so will give you Easy Answer 2 then.  In the meantime let us finish the Seven Gods of Good Fortune with Benten, the only goddess and therefore all the feminine elements like love, music, poetry. She is often shown in the clouds with swirls of celestial scarves around her or playing her samisen (lute-like instrument).


P.S. This image is not of one of our pieces - so far everything else I have posted has been our stock. 

More shibayama

Posted on 25 April 2012

At Masterpiece last year (Fusion and Fantasy catalogue)  and New York, the stars of our stand were a pair of pagodas with shibayama panels.  This is just one of the panels with a beautiful lady and attendant alighting from a rickshaw.  The details of this panel (one of 12 between the two pagodas) is incredible.  I especially love the ho-o birds in lacquer on the sleeves of the lady's robe, the karakusa on black on the wheels, the patterns on the bone/ivory robe of the child and the realistic and totally individual faces. In the background the landscape is drawn in gold lacquer and the pine trees have little caps of gold foil overlaid onto each tuft of needles (thoughout the piece incidentally).  In another panel there are little boys flying kites and the kite strings are silver wire. Other panels have fierce warriors but even then their armour and robes are patterned - no two the same.

Shibayama Ostich Egg

Posted on 25 April 2012

One of my Japanese treasures is this fabulous egg.  Shibayama is the technique of decorating figures, table screens, sword  hilts, boxes, etc with inlaid bone, ivory, agate, jade, mother-of-pearl, horn, etc and applied lacquer in various colours and with a multitude of finishes.  I have seen lots of shibayama applied to ivory and wood but never an egg.  We actually have had some quite extraordinary shibayama.  The end papers of the back cover of our Masterpiece catalogue (you can access the whole book in the 'catalogue' section of the site) shows the two halves of a table screen in shibayama on gold lacquer which was a tour de force (sold now).  

For guessing Ostsiches were our antiques. 10 points.

Easy answer 1

Posted on 25 April 2012

Question. How can a quad-bike safari be linked into an antiques blog?.........we saw ostriches.

Photo clue

Posted on 22 April 2012

The dinner table at the Inkwenkwezi lodge at the end of the safari (proper one this time in jeeps with drivers when we saw the rare white lions posted earlier).


Posted on 22 April 2012

Alex and Izzy find it very funny.

The star apple bush

Posted on 22 April 2012

My quad bike being extricated from the above.


Posted on 22 April 2012

One of the many things we did on our holiday was a quad-bike safari.  We didn't see many animals - probably because they were rather noisy machines and bright red at that.  I had opted to go on that excursion on the grounds that it would be easier than zip-wiring, 10km kayaking and surfing.  How wrong I was.  The steering was like all-in wrestling and controlling all forward momentum with only my thumb proved to be very difficult so I kept hiccuping along - much to the amusement of the young.  Their hilarity overflowed when I ran into a bush and the bike had to be pulled out by our ranger - at least it was a star apple bush.!

Question.  How can a quad-bike safari be linked into an antiques blog.

Clues:  we saw blesbuck, impala, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, emu and warthog.

Answers:  tomorrow and later in the week.

P.S. There are 3 links. Award yourself 10 points for the 2 easy ones and 50 points for the answer from the photo clue.

All play and no work ... is bad for business.

Posted on 22 April 2012

Charlie tried to keep up with emails too but desperate not to miss out on any rays he struggled to see the ipad screen in the bright sun!

All work and no bad for the health

Posted on 22 April 2012

As you can see lots of rest, 11 hours forced inactivity on the plane, no driving and hours of walking on soft sand meant C's leg got much better very quickly.  Still on pain killers but no crutches and able to run, sand surf (hence this board, we did some wave surfing too but really these little boards were much more fun as toboggans on the sand dunes), quad bike, zip-wire, kayak and dance at the wedding. 

Antiques around the globe

Posted on 22 April 2012

Here we have Nick and Margaret Wallrock of 'Wallrocks', Brisbane and Charlie and me from Wick Antiques, Lymington. Their grandfather started the trend by being the chairman of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers in the 1920s and collected Coalbrookedale porcelain (not metalwork) and military collectibles.  Between the brothers and me we have clocked up over 90 years in the antiques business!

Hello hello again

Posted on 22 April 2012

We are all back, in fact we spent Easter in South Africa at a family wedding.  Australian Wallrock nephew marries Lymington girl - near East London, S.A.  It was fabulous although fleeces and hoodies were needed on a couple of days.  Eva has kindly been posting blogs for me on the 7 Lucky Gods to cover for me being away but now I can do them myself again.  Actually it is rather apt that we still have Benten to go as she is the Goddess of Love, marriage and children as well as music poetry etc.!!!

As it happens the groom, Sam, is the son of Charlie's brother Nick who is an antiques dealer in Brisbane, Aus.  He runs 'Wallrocks' with his daughter Jessica and wife Margaret.  In fact it is Jess's blog which inspired me to write this one.  Check it out.  One of her recent posts has fab pics of her trip to Versailles. See I can relate everything to antiques sooner or later!


Posted on 20 April 2012

Ebisu is the god of fish and fishermen. Fish being, with rice, the staple diet of Japan, makes him an extremely popular god. He is often shown astride a giant fish and his symbols are a fishing rod or a sea bream.  This   version shows him staggering under the weight of his catch, rather than riding it, and is very unusual in the patination and colouring of the material -which is BRONZE! (It looks more like painted wood, but trust me you wouldn't want to drop it on your toe - but then at 46cm high I can hardly lift if so no danger of that.)




Hotei – God of Happiness

Posted on 19 April 2012

Not surprisingly Hotei is immensely popular and probably the nearest to our Father Christmas as he carries a large sack full of hopes or wishes. He is enormously fat with huge earlobes and a large stomach with is usually left exposed by his robe. Sometimes he is seated on a buffalo or surrounded by children.

Jurojin and Fukurokuju – Gods of Longevity and Wisdom

Posted on 16 April 2012

However Fukurokuju – the god of wisdom - is also an old man with a beard but he has a very high or elongated forehead. With his great age and erudition he is a skilled teacher and is often shown surrounded by children. His symbols are those of wisdom and long life: a scroll, a staff, a crane, a tortoise and a stag. The Japanese tortoise or minogame has a long tail which can have a fringe on it to show that the creature has reached such a venerable age that weeds are beginning to grow on it.

Here we have two ivory versions of the same god. Both these representations show the god with the staff of longevity, the one on the left also alludes to his scholarly wisdom with the folded parchments at his feet. In the other, with shibayama inlay, the head is extreme! Also note the tama or wish-granting jewel set in his robe above his belt.


Fukurokuju and Jurojin

Posted on 13 April 2012

These gods are very similar and often confused, they can both represent longevity and wisdom. Jurojin is an old man with a white beard and a tortoise or a crane. He is the embodiment of longevity. He may also be shown with a crook or a fan and can be identified by his high, folded hat. The scene on this Satsuma earthenware floor vase shows Fukurokuju on the left with his high forehead playing ‘go’ with Jurojin in the folded high hat and fan on the right.


Posted on 12 April 2012

Diakoku – God of the Harvest

Posted on 12 April 2012

In Miami I bought this bronze of Daikoku who is the god of good harvest and farmers. He is usually depicted as a plump figure sitting on bales of rice (as here) carrying a miner’s hammer or a mallet to signify hard, honest toil. There are often rats around as well, trying to steal the crops which he is protecting. Daikoku’s mallet is a popular theme for netsuke or okimono in its own right, as shown by this silver and bronze koro (incense burner).


Bishamonten – God of war

Posted on 11 April 2012

These values hold true for any maritime country today. The gods personify good harvest, good fishing, love and fertility, long life, wisdom, happiness and military might (or the ability to protect oneself against attack.) Any nation which could harness all these benefits would indeed be a happy place to live. Bishamon(ten) is not only the god of war and patron of princes but also, as shown by the pagoda which is often his symbol, the protector of the nation’s wealth.


The Seven Gods of Good Fortune

Posted on 05 April 2012

 Do you remember the bronze warrior god I posted a couple of weeks ago? Well I thought that I would do the whole group of Lucky Gods during the Easter holidays as I am spending time with the children, hopefully on the beach if this weather continues, doing dentists, summer uniform, inevitably new shoes for someone and gearing up for three sets of major exams, Part Ones at Uni, A2s and GCSEs respectively. I might need to go on the road again just to get away from the stress! This means that I am not in the shop very much and not on travelling to sales or warehouses at all.

Anyway - Audsley-Bowes, collector and author of a huge tome on Japanese art Victorian, describes these seven deities as being ‘linked with the universal ideas of earthly welfare and happiness, they are impersonations of powers, unknown and undefined, which are capable of granting those blessings and gifts upon which the Japanese base all their happiness in this life.’ (The Keramic Art of Japan, Liverpool & London 1875.)


Posted on 04 April 2012

As predicted the knee is now very sore so C confined to a desk chair and I am driving. Tomorrow we are going back towards Pulborough to pick up purchases from last week, view some more auctions and take a delivery of shagreen for sale. Shagreen was a very exotic popular medium for small boxes, tea caddies and photo frames in Georgian times and then enjoyed a revival in the Edwardian era. We have a small sideline making pieces because our restorers, obviously being fantastic craftsmen, occasionally make new things from scratch. Their expertise is paramount because shagreen is incredibly hard to work. In the past it was used for scraping the barnacles off ships and in the present the surface is so hard that it blunts most files. As you have to have a smooth piece to use as a veneer it is very labour intensive and therefore very expensive. We have an array of obelisks, pyramids, photo-frames, humidors and desk tidies but the showstoppers are tables (very large items of furniture for this medium) – two side tables and a stunning console table with the points of the compass inlaid within the design. Shagreen comes in a variety of colours but aquamarine, grey or cream seemed to be the most popular and that still holds true today - although we have a beautiful ruby humidor and I have also seen very chic pieces in black.

Tried out a new restaurant/hotel tonight for a friend’s birthday party. ‘The Pig’ near Brockenhurst.


Out of Action

Posted on 03 April 2012

Business curtailed today as Charlie into hospital for a knee operation. Not too serious but he can only POTTER about for 3 weeks. I can’t see that happening. I filled the time by shopping for his summer clothes in West Quay as he will not spend time shopping and will insist on antifouling the boat or crawling around dusty attics in the same clothes as he wears for work. A total refit was required. Anyway he is quite cheerful, on crutches, but says no pain – yet. Lucky I had done the clothes shopping as he found there was no way he could wear his trousers over the huge bandage – we hadn’t thought of that! - but I had bought shorts for this amazing spell of sunny weather. Saved the embarrassment of going out in a lovely hospital robe anyway. Thank heavens for the internet as he can still operate the business from the sofa at home.

Meanwhile we picked up a few things from a house call we did just after Christmas - smallish so they could a) be loaded into the car without his help and b) fit them into my car. The best thing was, as so often, digging through the garage - treasures included a copper fish steamer? Smoker? It will look great cleaned up and I always like pieces which remind me of life as it was for  previous ages and generations.  In the front of the photo is another gadget which is some sort of view finder or scope.  More research needed there too.


Posted on 01 April 2012

Another sunny Sunday so all hands under the deck to anti-foul Beeleigh in the hope that it all dries before the rain comes.  Everyone else has the same idea so the chandlers are running low on the paint, the brushes, rollers and overalls. 

Desks - A large Gillows one

Posted on 31 March 2012

At the other end of the scale is this fabulous Gillows partner's desk, made nearly two hundred years later.  It is also in walnut but has a leather inset top rather than quarter veneers.  In contrast it is large and impressive with drawers on both sides so that each partner could have his own set.  This one is open through the kneehole although sometimes there is a panel in the middle, to stop them playing footsie no doubt!  The decoration is also more elaborate with carving as well as the use of burr veneers and the handles are further embellished with incised motifs. 

Desks - A small Georgian one

Posted on 31 March 2012

Yesterday (Friday) I was too busy driving to Glastonbury and worrying about being able to fuel up, should I need to, without queuing for 4 hours, to do this blog, so I shall fill in today.

During the photo shoot I noticed we have some desks ready for sale and as I uploaded them onto the site I realised what a variety of things we have, even within one category.  Both desks are veneered in walnut (a wood I love because of the way the light plays on it - especially burr walnut) and have kneeholes flanked by pedestals with drawers.  There the similarities finish. This lovely little Georgian desk dates from around 1720 and is compact and upright, three tall drawers on either side and another above with a seventh almost hidden in the apron. The top is entirely decorated with a fabulous piece of wood sliced into quarters and then realigned, rather like butterfly wings or those ink-blot mirror image pictures we used to do at school.



Posted on 28 March 2012

We have just heard that our container of pieces has arrived safely in New York and  nothing has been broken.  So in celebration of things American - here is a marvelous shaggy bison.  Made in Japan   - so for the export market of the late 19th century.  It was after all the Americans who were the first 'foreigners' to open trade links with the Meiji dynasty and no doubt the Japanese craftsmen thought there would be a market for American animals.  Japanese bronze giraffe and rhino are also much sought after today.  Tigers and elephants being attacked by tigers are the more usual animal groups - the tigers show to perfection the artist's skill in pickling the bronze to produce variegated stripes.

Online Exams

Posted on 27 March 2012

Got Alex back from Uni.  A good system - I drive down to Plymouth and she drives me back (at 3 hours each way this is the only way to do it).  Luckily she had half her normal quota of bags so didn't need a truck and could fit it all into a Clio.  Today however she is doing an exam on her laptop - in the kitchen - with heavy music blaring on the radio.  This mark counts towards her Part Ones!!! How things have changed. 

The big news today is that we have got a fantastic pair of floor standing library globes back from the restorers. They are 18" globes by Malby dated 1857.  18 inch globes are a very popular size (21s are also sought after but much more expensive).  The colours on these two are really good, especially on the celestial globe which shows all the signs of the zodiac and plenty of other constellations we have rather lost track of today.



Photo shoot day

Posted on 26 March 2012

I love shoot days.  We used to do them for the catalogues - so planning a layout page by page.  I always wanted a full page bleed on the right so needed one portrait shot and then another landscape half page on the left to go above the text.  Having had it drilled into me that the right hand page is the best selling page. Now, however, we are taking images for the internet so in theory we should have a shot of  every concievable angle, either to email to clients or to upload onto the web.  Either way it does mean you will not have to struggle with my snapshots with haphazard lighting and rather hit-and-miss focus for a while. 

This batch seems to feature leather furniture, the cloisonne I brought back from Miami and  marine items.  Last time Chris was here we were at home so sat out in the garden for a picnic lunch but today had to make do with the pavement outside the shop!  Not exactly professional, still it reminds me of the French brocantes markets where everyone spreads out the baguettes and salamis with the essential red wine and just sits down for  long lunch in the middle of their stands.



From Ugly Duckling

Posted on 25 March 2012

Well here she is - lots of varnish needed, a full make-over in fact.

To Swan

Posted on 25 March 2012

Well not an actual Swan class yacht but a classic 1913 old gaffer.

Recipe for Disaster

Posted on 24 March 2012

The title is not mine - one of the sisters sent this picture of our stable gate looking very vulnerable at the hands of an 11 year old demolition expert!

Its the weekend with glorious weather - 20 degrees by lunchtime apparently - and two children have begun their Easter break.  We are going to anti foul the boat, go for a walk and despatch children to a birthday sleepover (11 years old) and a full blown 18th in Reigate.  Then of course, there is still revision and dance show rehearsals for tomorrow night.  Meanwhile we are renovating an old garage block/outhouse to make a two bedroom cottage for holiday lets - hence the 'awesome' machine above.  Who knows we might even do b&b for bargain hunters - but then again with the defunct stables next door we might offer breaks for people with horses who want to explore the limitless riding of the New Forest.  Note to self:  Get the girls to map out all the good pub rides. 

'Boat' I hear you say - those antique dealers must be richer than we thought - but it is not quite what you might think.  We are in a syndicate and the boat is ...................just what you would expect people firmly rooted in the past to own.  Show you tomorrow.

Palanquins and Indian Princesses

Posted on 23 March 2012

Friday. - C travelled to Exeter and beyond visiting more warehouses and in search of globes but came home with an ivory palanquin to add to a veritable procession of Indian ivories.  A palanquin was the Eastern version of a litter (a covered bed or seat carried on poles by six or four bearers) rather than a sedan chair in which the passenger sat upright and was carried by two men.  This one has interesting details in the staves the bearers carry with the brackets on the top.  Would this be for holding the palanquin up above the hoi-poloi when stopped for a while or for pushing people out of the way?  Fending off tigers perhaps?? Also the little doors can be closed to hide the figure inside - no doubt for privacy and to escape the dust and heat.  When I was in Rajastan in the 80s, revelling in the artistic and cultural similarities between the decorative arts of Isfahan and Jaipur, I was introduced to Maharani Gayatri Devi, Rajmata Jaipur, in her day a celebrity as famous as Jackie Kennedy and one of Vogue's 10 Most Beautiful women.  I was so fascinated that I read her autobiography 'A Princess Remembers' (1976) and one particular snippet stays with me.  As a young bride from Baroda she was desperate to see the Taj Mahal but in those days women were still in purdah.  The reality of this hit me when she described her journey, first by train and then carriage, where all the windows were blacked out - not only could no one see in but she could not see out!  Before two way glass and air conditioning she was also stiflingly hot.  On hearing that they had stopped at the Taj she rashly peeped out to catch a glimpse of the most famous temple to love.  She was immediately soundly reprimanded and on arrival at the palace presented with a magnificent photograph!!  Perhaps that is why our palanquin has solid doors rather than pierced jali screens which would have been so much prettier  - and cooler.  

First Sale

Posted on 22 March 2012

Yessssssssssssssssssssss! Our first internet sale.  Not too bad as we only set up the website in January.  We have sold the beautiful hanging lights which I uploaded yesterday.  Result!  (As the kids would say.). This pair of hexagonal lights were made by WAS Benson. 

 Educated at Oxford, Benson was a friend of Edward Burne-Jones, and through him met William Morris.  Thereafter  he was an ardent supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement and became chairman of and furniture designer for Morris & Co. in 1886. He is best known for furniture design, works in copper and lighting. He was an active member of the Art Workers' Guild and in 1914 founder of the Design and Industries Association.

Hidden treasures in unlikely places

Posted on 21 March 2012

Canford is of great interest to the antiques dealer/history buff because a) the buildings are wonderful. b) in the early 1990s the school was lucky enough to find an Assyrian bas relief (thought to be a plaster copy) next to a dart board (!) in the tuck shop. I was working at Sotheby’s and can still remember the excitement when Christies sold it for an auction room record price of £7.7million. The relief, one of three taken from the throne room of the Assyrian King Assurnasirpal II (883–859 BC), had been brought back from the site of Nimrud in northern Mesopotamia (Iraq) by Sir Austen Henry Layard along with other antiquities which were displayed at Canford before it was a school. Originally Canford (Manor), designed by Sir Charles Barry (of Houses of Parliament fame) was the residence of Layard's cousin and mother-in-law, Lady Charlotte Guest and her husband, Sir John Josiah Guest. At that time the building now known as the Grubber (tuck shop) was used to display antiquities and was known as "the Nineveh Porch". The original relief is now in the Miho Museum in Japan. (Whose website provided the finer details of this post.)

On the hockey touchline

Posted on 21 March 2012

All day at Canford School for a hockey tournament, literally 10 til 3. Beautiful school and the most superb grounds. They also give visiting parents a delicious running buffet all day. Sadly we did not win a game and after 9 matches the boys were on their knees. Still - better than battling that computer again, for me, and a welcome relief from school lessons for the boys.


Catch up day.

Posted on 20 March 2012

Tuesday is time for a catch up after the very busy weekend and full day on the road yesterday.  Not to mention sweeping the ashes out of the Aga.  I think the only think I bought was this Victorian cast iron hound door stop, late 19th century.  Heard from the US that the rifle chair was too expensive for them. (Don't forget we have to add the cost of shipping etc.)  but I think C left some bids for tomorrow at Bellmans and more at Dreweatts - we will have to wait and see if he was successful.

Monday pm

Posted on 20 March 2012

As it was well before 2 we decided to view tomorrow’s sale in Newbury on our return trip (not exactly on our way home but then, as you know by now, driving miles is the norm). The journey to Winchester was fine but then the A34 was totally shut by a police car due to a burning lorry and we did a detour via Andover and Highclere (Downton Abbey) but still got to Dreweatts in good time. The sale was displayed in three showrooms but we were really only drawn to a few pieces, we will probably do phone bids on six or seven. Funnily enough one is another set of fire irons hidden within a military figure, another is a hound door stop and C found a table he really liked for the spiral veneers on the top. I saw a sweet little child’s rocking chair with a high back and an Irish child’s desk circa 1720 for an estimate of £100 for the two – how can something which is nearly 300 years old be so little money? This market is so depressing sometimes. This tea caddy was our only purchase as it turns out – and as fuelling up cost us £108 and lunch was £6 (not quite the Ritz as you can tell by the price) we may not even make the expenses today. C liked it because it had sprung loaded covers inside labelled ‘green’ and ‘black’, so they flip open when you press a button and he has never seen one like it.

Home by 5pm. Then collect from school and have supper – back on the computer writing up today’s events when there is a strange smell ….. sure enough the Yorkshire puddings are still in the Aga and are now charcoal…….. Goodnight.


Monday morning

Posted on 20 March 2012

On the road again. This time we start by going East and then loop back to Dreweatts in Newbury. First call a huge sprawl of lock ups full of antiques; literally 20 of them. We do not find anything to buy but there are Australian and South African buyer’s stickers on lots of pieces being wrapped in corrugated paper ready for shipping so the dealers are happy. On into Arundel where we see the most extraordinary chair made from rifles.  I immediately sent an image to our US clients with the huntin', shootin' fishing interests - isn't it amazing that I can send this image now for them to look at over breakfast and give me an answer.

Then we debated going to Brighton but went up the A24 instead as we had to view Bellman’s near Pulborough. I have never been there before and it was another auction room in a large agricultural style building but full of pieces, people and lovely hot air pumped from fan heaters (quite often you put your coat ON to go INTO antiques warehouses.) We had lunch of tea and sandwiches sitting round a table with a lot number on it and an odd assortment of chairs similarly numbered, but the best thing was the centrepiece – a huge bowl of overlapping turquoise glass tablets which looked stunning and was too heavy for me to lift estimate £50 – I was tempted to leave a bid but then thought what a nuisance it would be to handle and ship as it was so heavy and yet fragile at the same time.


Sunday off

Posted on 20 March 2012

A fabulous day all round. Beautifully warm and everyone is immediately more cheerful. We drop one child at school for GCSE drama rehearsals and then spend the day on the rugby touchline at the County Champs in Petersfield. Great results – the first match was a draw, then two wins and another draw. We were top of our section ONLY if Alton won their game AND scored at least two tries. Fingers crossed as we watched a tense 20 minutes – they did win but only with ONE try so we played in the semi finals. Sadly knocked out then but even so it meant we were equal 3rd in the county and we were proud of the boys as through sickness, sailing, swimming and injury we had lost our front row and were playing with backs in front – so to speak. Also great was that our injured player came back from hospital in one piece (albeit on crutches).

On the way home texts to say that our eldest had won a trophy in her inter-varsity trampoline competition while the other had gone to support her school in a West Country rugby tournament and they had WON. On their lap of honour they hoisted her onto their shoulders and carried her round the pitch as team mascot – a red letter day for everyone, which is quite unusual.


Viva la Riva

Posted on 17 March 2012

OMG what has C found this time?  He spent a day tavelling around all points west from Exeter to Wells and back to Salisbury yesterday  - without me this time as I was wearing my other hat (thankfully not a black cap); in court as a J.P. on a trials court.  Anyway he says he only bought one thing - but what a find.  Charlie loves boats but has a specially soft spot for a good coat of varnish and of course the sleek lines of this lovely river craft.  Will she make it to our Olympia maritime stand? (We have 2 stands booked at Olympia in June this year - see forthcoming Fairs on the website.) Or will she be sold first?  If you want more info on her ring Charlie (not me this time) on 07768 877069.

Tiger skin greaves

Posted on 16 March 2012

Here are the very upmarket leggings and 'ritzy' toenails!  I just cannot image why a Japanese craftsman over a century ago would give an oni gold toe nails but I love them. Other photos are on the web site under 'stock'.  If you want more information on these pieces or Japanese bronzes in general please send me a comment below or ring me  - Caroline on 01590 677558.

The shakudo cloak

Posted on 16 March 2012

Back view of the cloak.  Also the detail in the umbrella is picked out in gold.  The underside has all the bamboo lattice and spokes in gold - just like a very heavy  paper cocktail umbrella!  It is detachable and is a work of art in its own right as a bronze study of an umbrella, you almost feel you could shut it!

Meiji bronze Oni group

Posted on 16 March 2012

Just to show you the best example of shakudo (raven's wing black) I am adding a picture from our stock.  This was exhibited at Masterpiece and New York last year.  An oni is a demon (imp really) but as you can see this one is totally benign.  We bought this piece because of the shakudo cloak, the unbelievable workmanship, (have a long look at the tiger skin greaves) and the curious subject matter.  Who is this oni?  He appears to be a wandering beggar with a begging bowl and a very tatty umbrella so why is he so richly dressed?  Why is he smiling so happily?  Also the little boy turns out to be a boy oni too as he has tiny little horns in his curly hair - I've never seen one of them before.  Can anyone read the tablet?  (Apparently it is not a signature.)

Meiji period bronzes - Take 2

Posted on 16 March 2012

The next things to look for are the colours.  The Japanese master craftsmen perfected techniques for colouring bronze and then inlaying precious metals to add depth and even more opulence.  (In figural or animal bronzes the eyes were often inlaid with gold/shakudo).  The main colours are standard bronze, glossy  raven's wing black (shakuko) and russet.  These vases are prime examples of all of that (sorry about the dreadful photos - not least because I dare not give you higher definition as you will spend all day waiting for them to upload - you can however go back to our 'stock' section where Chris Challis has done porfessional images of our bronze inventory.)  There is silver in the flowers and some of the weeping willow leaves (under the dirt), the left hand carp is shakudo and the waterl-ilies have a wide variation of pickled bronze hues.

Final tip - only buy things that you like - that way you can enjoy them as a collector.  If they go up in value while you own them that is only a bonus. Why did I buy these then?  Firstly because I love the red splodge on the black carp - carp really do look like that.  Secondly I like the russet ground - it is more usual to find a brown bronze ground with russet inlays (in figures this russet colour is normally reserved for faces). They are also a good height (14in) and an elegant skittle shape.

Oh yes, I  must just add - cleaning.  Although these need a bit of rub so you can see the silver in the willow leaves Japanese mixed metal pieces should NOT be cleaned other than by an expert.  Over-cleaned pieces lose their value as well as their authenticity as it is quite possible to polish OFF a finish which the craftsman intended to be left ON. 


Buying Meiji period bronzes

Posted on 16 March 2012

One of the first boxes contains these two beautiful  Japanese bronze vases with carp. For those of you who have never really looked at Japanese bronzes before I will give you a quick run through what to look for.  At a rapid gallop - basically (as the young say in every sentence) BASICALLY - the Japanese spent many centuries isolated from the world until 'opened up' to the West in 1868 by the Americans.  Before this the country was controlled by various warrior overlords with private armies.  For our purposes this meant that huge numbers of very skilled craftsmen were employed making arms and armour.  Once  trade with the West began these craftsmen turned to works of art.  The best quality work therefore is generally considered to be Meiji period 1868-1912.  Signatures help too - although there are so many and few of us can read them - but they show that the maker was proud of his work and considered it worthy of his name.

These vases tick two boxes - Meiji and signed.



Christmas all over again.

Posted on 16 March 2012

Anyway, back to the present. I left at 6.20am to take a friend to Southampton bus terminal, Charlie had to meet the huge lorry at Ampress industrial park where we are having to rent space at 7.15 so had to ask Margaret to take do the school run. Normal chaos but the whole lot was unloaded into the store and three vans by 9.30 and all pretty much unpacked by midday. Now down to me to unwrap the small.s Very exciting – like Christmas all over again, especially as I had forgotten to photograph some of them and so had forgotten all about them. All those orange crates are full of stock.


The Golden Goose

Posted on 15 March 2012

Also in there, I trust, are my purchases from the Miami Convention Centre show and a gallery in Palm Beach. How exciting – although our buying was well down this year. Last year we bought 60 pieces between us and this year only 15. And only 14 will be returning as I sold one piece there – a really stunning Japanese cloisonné vase with a goose picked out in gold wire on a pale green background. It had a padded silk lined box to go with it, so it was evidently a treasured item, but frustratingly had no signature on either the piece or the box. My feeling is that it was by Hayashi Kodenji.

D-Day 2 -Delivery Day in this case

Posted on 15 March 2012

It seems to be revolving door stock control here at the moment. Just as we clear lots of space with the load OUT to New York another comes IN from Miami. This time it is a 40 footer and all furniture in crates so it will take up much more room that the load of ‘smalls’ which left yesterday. We are bursting at the seams. A lot of these pieces were exhibited at the Palm Beach Show (see the picture in our Fairs section) and can be found in the catalogues ‘Masterpiece’ and ‘Fantasy and Fusion’ (see recent catalogues).

The Stag's story

Posted on 15 March 2012

Just thought you might like to see that the stag was well looked after for the journey.

New York Next Stop

Posted on 15 March 2012

Container arrives at 8.45 and the lads are done by 11.30 – the quickest load yet. However we have only put in a floor load and even then had to put in some empty crates to stop things sliding as we didn’t completely fill it. Usually we are deciding what to leave out as we try to squeeze the doors shut.

2.30 we watch an U11 hockey match away and the sun comes out!! Typical. Still nice for them and they WON, their first win this half of term.


You have to be thin to live here.

Posted on 15 March 2012

...and the house is so full you can barely get into the hall.

No room!

Posted on 15 March 2012

Actually I am pleased we are loading because the cars are full - you can see the fire screen there.

D-Day I - Despatch Day

Posted on 15 March 2012

Frantic day. We load a 20 foot container with some of these lovely purchases and also lots from our warehouse. And of course it RAINS. This is a major nuisance because polished wood discolours if it gets wet (as we know all too well from rings left from glasses or flower vases) and the upholstery gets damp and paintings etc get mildew. Once the container is sealed it will not be opened until it gets to the USA and with no air circulating nothing dries out.



More about the clam shell

Posted on 15 March 2012

Do you remember that very large clam shell? Well it is so heavy that I can’t lift it out of my car (it took 2 men and a set of trolley wheels to load it). Therefore it has been to Tesco, the school run, the library, etc,….. Hereby hangs a tale. In a clear-out I found a dozen or so scallop shells which Ed has been hoarding for heaven knows what but instead of throwing them out I wondered if the pre-prep could use them for painting. Year 1 were thrilled as they had just had a class outing to the beach (in March I hear you ask!) Serendipity struck – I remembered I had the ‘biggest shell in the world’ in the boot of my car!! Once they had all gathered round to look the smallest in the class climbed in. We also measured it – 93cm across. If all the rings are a year of life then it must also be VERY old. One little boy guessed 121 years, which sounded most precise but what probably the biggest number he could think of on the spur of the moment. All I know is that it has mercifully never been stuck outside as a garden ornament as it is in wonderful condition with the internal skin as smooth and shiny as white marble.


Posted on 14 March 2012

Not such an exciting day work-wise. I spent most of it uploading 25 sets of fire irons onto the website. Being a total novice it took me a very long time and I think I missed out several vital stock numbers to boot. Now they are up in the ‘ether’ they are impossible to cross reference so ….if you come across any fire-irons on our website without numbers please let me know and I will try to edit them.

Actually, when I got down to it and studied them there is amazing variety. You tend to think that a shovel is a shovel is a shovel but some of them are very decorative: pierced or embossed, others are square or scalloped. One set are really feminine with curlicues everywhere, suitable for a pretty drawing room while others are very much ‘gentleman’s study’ with plain lines or bold flanges. Two sets have handles which remind me of those twisted chimneys on Tudor buildings. My favourite is the polished steel and brass guardsman with the tongs etc hidden in behind him.

More fire irons and grates to come next week.

A quiver of arrows

Posted on 13 March 2012

Now on to an auction house to view a sale and have a very welcome bowl of soup and delicious goat’s cheese and broccoli quiche. We ran into a great friend the London dealer Ian Butchoff and he joined us for a cup of tea. BUT the great news of the day is that we had missed a smash and grab raid by only minutes and the police were still ‘in attendance’. Someone had walked into reception and put a car jack through the toughened glass display case, smashing various valuable bits of Chinese porcelain and legged it with a rhinoceros horn libation cup!! Apparently many Continental auction houses are not handling rhino horn as this sort of theft is a common occurrence. Rhino horn fetches something like £40-60,000 per kilo on the black market. Sad that it will probably be ground down into medicine because this particular horn had been made into a work of art – and a religious one at that.

Finally back to Bournemouth to visit a maritime antiques shop where we – naturally -- don’t buy anything for our Marine section but a military tabard mounted as a fire-screen. It is very unusual as the uprights are carved as quivers of arrows with a bow as the cresting rail. Then House and Sons Auctioneers for a pre-sale view – thankfully no raids there. Home again home again mid afternoon. I am quite tired but it is a normal day’s driving for C.


Clam shell

Posted on 13 March 2012

Next it’s the Blanchard Collective near Marlborough, which is another huge warehouse but this time in a large metal building with a mezzanine round three sides and a large central well. It is laid out in rooms settings. Lots of different styles. Downstairs first right is all distressed pale grey French furniture with beautiful crewel work upholstery, then there is a study with red leather furniture, a carpet area, etc. It is very much set out for modern designers with lots of new pieces added in, especially the lighting. Upstairs there is a whole room of painted panelling – very pretty. Once again it was me buying. I found a Black forest bear card holder, a mountain goat bronze (do you see the theme developing here?!) and a silvered gong. Charlie bought the biggest clam shell I have ever seen 93cm wide!

From camel saddles to half hulls.

Posted on 13 March 2012

Stop 2. Nick Hingston in Wilton. He has revamped the shop and it is all open down the middle which looks fantastic. Very good for retail trade but again mostly furniture and we are trying to be disciplined and buy only smalls so we buy …………….a camel saddle missing its seat!! Hardly auspicious but C assures me it will be ‘just the thing’ with a fat leather cushion on it. He is usually right. On the way see a big banner for an antiques fair in Wilton House next week – I may well pop back up as I love Wilton House anyway and I might just find something too.

Stop 3
Private call to a dealer to look at some marine items for our June Olympia, stand which will feature additions to our Maritime brochure. We had set this appointment up so this was the spur to today’s trip. In the event we bought two beautiful half hulls. One I especially love as it is plain varnished wood. Very chic. The other is named Oimara and was built in Scotland – guess who will have to get down to the research when we get back.

First stop of the day.

Posted on 11 March 2012

Stop one. Salisbury Antiques Warehouse: A large warehouse on 3 floors. The top floor has recently been opened and is done up in very good room settings, complete with flowers in vases, everything ticketed and a fair sprinkling of SOLD tickets too which is good to see. Upholstered leather still seems to be popular. We spot a very unusual Japanese cloisonné vase with repoussé fish (not moriage) which are then enamelled over the top. The ground is very attractive turquoise and white gin-bari (translucent enamel over silver foil) to simulate the water…………I didn’t buy it as the price was quite high and there was a little bit of damage round the neck. (Not enough to deter a private buyer, but for my customers in Japanese cloisonne, items have to be MINT.)

Upstairs, lots of good furniture but we are looking for ‘smalls’ today. And there is a wonderful iron stag. This is unusual because a) it is recumbent and b) it is iron, typically we see French pieces in bronze. We are looking for gentlemen’s study/country interest type pieces so - very nice so = purchase 1.


Monday morning

Posted on 11 March 2012

Welcome to my take on the life of an antique dealer’s wife, who is also a mother of four and a magistrate.


Charlie and I set off at 8.30 ‘on the road’ to visit other dealers, warehouses and auction rooms. Sadly there are now far fewer ‘calls’ than 10 or so years ago so this involves many miles and we may, of course, not buy anything. We will cover bits of Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Berkshire in a very haphazard fashion – ie we don’t go to Salisbury via Bournemouth which would be the sensible thing to do – instead we go there last, after Hungerford and Newbury. Charlie always maintains antiques are ‘green’ as they are the ultimate re-cycled luxury goods but our carbon footprint today will have to be ‘offset’ against the age or number of previous owners of our day’s purchases!


Tweets by @WickAntiques