Antiques are not just for oldies. For school children and university grads too, vintage is cooler than ever. In May Royal College of Art Fashion MA student, Laura Karup Frandsen, refused to show her collection as part of Extinction Rebellion’s launch of their #BoycottFashion drive. Since, thousands have pledged to say ‘no to new’ for a year.
But sustainability isn’t the only draw toward the worn and torn clothes and jewels that brim on the towering tables of antiques fairs across the country. Whether a piece has been loved and looked after or used and abused, its history only adds to its allure. Up and coming dealers – sub-30 and social media savvy – agree. Always learning keeps them hooked, according to Matt Dixon, a 23 year old antiques dealer from York. Dare to ask a question or two and you’ll soon find yourself on a slippery slope, falling hook, line and sinker for the story lurking beneath its statement façade.
Sentimentalists, beware. We’ve found the best British antique fairs for you in London and beyond.
Best British Antique Fairs of 2019
The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, London
Rookie fairgoers should start with this well-established and informative fair in Olympia. A free talks programme put on by the experts themselves will teach you what you need to know before you begin browsing the 50,000 beautiful objects that are on sale. From the perils of collecting ceramics to understanding how tech can reveal the undiscovered secrets of paintings, there’s a lot to take in.
Rest assured that every piece that is exhibited will have been checked for authenticity, so there are no fairy tales floating about the floor. Core collectors’ pieces and an unrivalled selection of antique jewellery including pieces from Cartier and Tiffany are intermingled with affordable prints and posters. Plus, the rigorous research undertaken by the dealers is worth investigating. Prepare to be mesmerised by items that have travelled around the world on unbelievable adventures before making their way into the exhibits in front you. The boots worn by the commander-in-chief of the British Forces fighting in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War are a taster of what awaits.
19 to 28 June. olympia-art-antiques.com
Masterpiece London Art Fair
A cross-collects’s paradise featuring art, design, furniture and jewellery, Masterpiece takes over the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It’s one of the best British antique fairs, where guests can view and buy the finest works at a range of price points. 150 leading international specialists vet every object on show giving buyers the confidence to part with their cash.
Bentley & Skinner have a particularly standout exhibit this year, including a number of key pieces by Carl Fabergé, Robert Phillips, Carlo Giuliano and Alessandro Castellani. If those names aren’t ringing any bells, let us give you the down-low. Robert Phillips is one of the most prominent English jewellers working in the fashionable Revivalist style. Alongside two ornate crosses of his own, a highly important 19th century Egyptian Revival Pharaoh Portrait Brooch by Phillips’ protégé, Carlo Giuliano will also be on show. Probably stretching your purse strings too far? Find them at stand B9. Their beauty is worth beholding – and that’s priceless.
Plus, no central London event on this scale would be complete without a glass of the good stuff. The Perrier-Jouet Champagne Terrace offers a range of cuvees to be sipped at the setting of the sun.
27 June to 3 July. masterpiecefair.com
Firle Vintage Fair, East Sussex
From London’s elite to vintage mayhem, head down south to Firle Park near Lewes. There will be an extensive array of retro and antique furniture, vintage fashion, art deco, historical items and clocks and watches for sale, as well as performances and workshops to transport you back to bygone times. The much-loved Brighton Swing will be performing Lindy-Hop dancing to the high notes of Harries Tricks on both days. This no expenses spared, immersive atmosphere will bring knick-knacks that catch your eye to life. You’ll be handing over pennies for that pre-loved lumber in no time.
9-11 August. firlevintagefair.co.uk
The LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Mayfair
If art and design is more your cup of tea, then put the LAPADA fair in your diary. LAPADA is the world’s largest association of art and antiques dealers with a 500-strong membership base made up of Britain’s leading experts. This year, LAPADA’s 45th anniversary, exhibitors will present pieces by a nominated ‘LAPADA Legend’.
Works by talents such as Chippendale, Wedgwood, Dame Lucie Rie, Georg Jenson, Suzanne Belperron and Paul de Lamerie will be available to view and to buy. At LAPADA you’ll find inspiration, knowledge and some of the finest art, jewellery, textiles, silver, furniture and objets d’art you’ve ever seen. This is an opportunity to fine-tune your taste in art and design.
13-18 September. lapadalondon.com
The Northern Antiques Fair, North Yorkshire
At The Northern Antiques Fair in Harrogate there’s no age discrimination – for neither entrants nor antiques. The old sit comfortably beside the new and prices range from pocket money amounts to six figure sums. Traditional oil paintings are as desirable as contemporary watercolours and 20thcentury design objects compliment 16thcentury oak furniture. Visit for something small – a watch, an enamel bowl or a new lamp – or something big – an Oriental carpet or an old map – but rummage for some back history while you’re at it.
3-6 October. northernfair.com
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