This month sees the magazine focus its unrepentant gaze once again upon antique furniture. The ACC Index figures for last year are available, detailed in this issue’s special article, with regrets that the news is not better – the Index is down four percent. It is not much of a drop but as John Fiske of the New England Antiques Journal put it succinctly, tongue in cheek, not so long ago: ‘Every year John Andrews publishes these figures and I wish he wouldn’t.’ What he means is that he wishes I wouldn’t as long as the news is of a further decline in prices, even if it is a small one. If the news recorded an increase, publication would be welcome. It is rather like the economy generally: up is always better than down. An Italian colleague once said to… View the full post
A Happy New Year, once again, to all our readers. We wish you every success if you have made New Year Resolutions and are keeping to them, however moderately. If kindness and charity are involved as well as personal improvement, always remember Gore Vidal’s dictum that no good deed ever goes unpunished; an epigram worthy of Somerset Maugham.
A foreign acquaintance who has come to live in London and is an antiques enthusiast, starts the year by expressing bewilderment at the words currently used in catalogue descriptions, both by auctioneers and by retail trade on the Internet. He says that his English dictionary does not provide suitable translations since some words have become professional jargon. So, in response to him and in a desire to update previous translations, I offer the following brief dictionary of current antiques trade terminology, mostly… View the full post
Following last year’s precedent, we are combining the November and December months in this issue. We will produce a separate January issue early in the New Year. The combined months help to deal more satisfactorily with the looming prospect of Christmas as a final shopping event stimulating antiques as gifts. A January magazine provides a fresh, clean start to the next year. It has been a very active period for collectors and heartening to observe that the underlying impulse to accumulate better and rarer examples of each individual’s particular interest shows no sign of abating. Some of the year’s TV programmes on the subject have shown amazing collections of artefacts housed in unlikely locations, with the proud owner or owners not in the least dismayed by the extent to which their home or premises are jammed with ranks of the… View the full post
The late Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, collected first editions and manuscripts of social and technical importance – ‘books that made things happen’ – with the help of the dealer Percy Muir of Elkin Mathews. It was an appealing idea in which he invested time and money, but recently it came indirectly under fire from Germaine Greer. In an interview with Howard Jacobson in one of his TV programmes on four Australian intellectuals in England, Jacobson was admiring Greer’s book, The Female Eunuch. He said it was an impressive and original stimulus to feminist thinking, a landmark initiating new attitudes and thus, though he did not mention it, qualifying as a book that would have met Fleming’s criterion of making things happen.
No, replied Germaine Greer positively, books do not make things happen. Things happen and they lead to… View the full post
My local junk dealer takes a gloomy view of the younger generation. He says that rather than buy his excellent second hand furnishings when setting up home, they buy new things on hire purchase. They get into long-term debt for the sake of new domestic possessions. Unlike the older generation to which we both belong, they will not set up their homes by buying what they can afford, making do with old stuff before income and bank balance can cope with expenditure on new interior decor.
I tend to agree with him in cowardly fashion as I wince at the sight of some of his stock, but I have to agree that it is perfectly usable. When I was first married we started with two armchairs for a pound each and then, one afternoon in the Chalk Farm Road, came… View the full post
The advent of summer has brought the usual controversy over the nature of art, with the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and a show of Folk Art at Tate Britain – ‘more suitable for an antiques fair’ – to the forefront of the fuss.
The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy always engenders a debate where those who regard the function of art to be an expression of protest of a social and political character, can rail against the Establishment represented by the Academy. The usual accusations as to its innate character and its Academicians – white, male, not enough women, like everything else about the country – are countered by those who point out that it is innately liberal and that the Summer Exhibition allows the work of amateurs to be hung alongside that of distinguished RAs in a unique… View the full post
The advent of summer fairs, with London events listed in this issue, is always welcome. For collectors there will be wonderful things to look at and, if pockets permit, acquire. For many exhibitors the fairs are a high point in the year and inevitably a source of anxiety as well as anticipation. The success or failure of this short season of festivities and exhibitions tends to affect the morale of the trade and collecting community to an excessive degree.
This year there is much more anticipation than anxiety. Optimism is seeping gently into the world of antiques. Although reservations persist, there is definitely a brighter mood in the air. It used to be the case that the housing market influenced the turnover of antiques, with housing sales activity acting as a stimulus. We all know that the housing market is… View the full post
Wonders will never cease. No sooner had Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that things are getting better and he had good news for pensioners, than The Sunday Times supplement entitled ‘Homes’ announced, when surveying the V&A exhibition the following weekend, that Georgian is still the favourite style of this country. What is more, it said that we’re mad about it. Georgian? Was I seeing right? Were my eyes deceiving me? I thought that the Georgian era was the progenitor of Dull Brown furniture and houses that are just long past it, man, long past it.
Not according to Hugh Graham’s article on March 23rd. When it comes to architecture, he wrote, the Georgian era is still dear to the nation’s hearts or to at least 80 percent of them. Georgian property demands a premium that Tudor, Victorian, Arts… View the full post