The Hazards of Antiques Envy

Katherine Pole's antique passementerie

Katherine Pole brings antique French textiles and passementerie, circa 19th-century, to the fair. Shown are silk and cotton trimmings.

Sometimes it’s more difficult than at others to do the work I do, and one of the toughest stretches I will face in quite some time will be attending The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in London’s Battersea Park a week and a half from now. This has nothing to do with the number of hours I will be on my feet, even though they will add up quickly. Neither does it have to do with the sensory overload I will feel from seeing so many offerings tucked into one venue, though they will be considerable. It has to do with the fact I will want about 99% of the remarkable decorative antiques and twentieth-century design wares I will see while not being able to take them home! *Big sigh.*

Antiques at The Decorative Fair

French wire and metal birdcage from 1881

Large wire and metal birdcage, French, 1881.

When the Fair opens on April 21st at Battersea Park, it will provide visitors the opportunity to shop from 140 exhibitors who bring unique points of view to their collecting, which means the items for sale will span a broad spectrum of styles and periods ranging from 17th-century vernacular metalware and treen to 1960s space-inspired designs such as ‘sputnik’ chandeliers. Furniture styles cover all periods of English and European design from the 1700s to around 1980. These include painted furniture, fine cabinetry, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, and post-war design by the likes of Fornasetti and the Memphis Group among others.

An array of garden antiquary and decorative elements for the outdoors are also for sale. Consider that the images embellishing this post are the proverbial tip of the iceberg in terms of accessorizing opportunities and you will understand the pickle I’ll be in.

Victorian glass tie-backs at the Decorative Fair

One of two pairs of blue Victorian glass tiebacks, circa 1890, in Patricia and Victoria Harvey’s booth.

The Decorative Fair brand has remained family-owned since its launch in 1985, and the April event I will attend, the Spring Fair, is one of three each year held at Battersea Park—the Winter Fair takes place in January and the Autumn Fair in late September. The person attendees can thank for the fact they have the opportunity to shop for such an array of goods “under one roof” is Patricia Harvey, a decorative antiques dealer who wanted to offer her interior designer clients an easier way to source personable furnishings and accessories for their projects than trekking all over town.

Rare Swedish antique box at the Decorative Fair

A rare Swedish painted box depicting a pair of lovers, circa 18th-century, offered by Gaby van Schagen.

The current owners of the Fair, David and Jane Juran, purchased it in December 2008, the brand a shoe-in for the couple since David was an exhibitor at the fair for many years as Magus Antiques. Given they knew the formula that had made the events successful before they bought it, the duo set out to maintain the friendly atmosphere and relaxed vibe they had always had.

Lamps debuting at the Decorative Fair in Battersea Park

Foster & Gane bring a pair of American silver-plated pineapple-top urn lamps with paw feet and dark green silk shades to the fair.

One of the aspects of the Fair I’m looking forward to seeing is how exhibitors display their stock in room settings. I wonder how many booths I’m going to want to move into before all is said and done? Spoiler alert: I’m a sucker for old English pine! Given that many of the dealers exhibiting products are also designers, their talent for creating vignettes gives them an unfair advantage over my ability to resist opening my wallet. Boy, the level of resolve I will need is going to be extreme! Wish me luck, will you?

Passementerie will be on view at the Decorative Fair

19th-century Venetian lace over 18th-century red silk cushions in Katherine Pole’s booth.

If I’m fortunate, I will bump into some of my favorite designers at the Fair, such as Rose Tarlow, who has been spotted shopping there in the past. Her book The Private House has been a favorite of mine since it was published in 2001. And I am excited I will have the opportunity to meet a number of the Antiques Young Guns while I’m in London. Pippa Roberts and I will be taking a trip to Twickenham to visit Horace Walpole’s Gothic estate Strawberry Hill House, an exciting jaunt I’ll be writing about on SH, the blog when I return. I’ll also get to say hello to Gail McLeod of Antiques News & Fairs. I believe the antiques gods would call this an embarrassment of riches!

I must say I’ve enjoyed reading The Decorative Fair’s blog because its editors post some serious trend-spotting thematic topics that have included things like Hollywood glamour, garden ornaments, textiles as art, and post-war fashion illustration recently. Whether you are planning on attending the Fair or not it’s definitely worth a read. The event runs through April 26th, and I’ll be jamming on social media while I’m there (and posting once I’m back in Brooklyn) so stay tuned for the creative shenanigans to come!

A Few Comparable Finds for Sale

For those of you who can’t make it to London for the fair, I looked around for a few cool finds that give you the same feel as some of the expensive antiques you’d come across combing the stalls.

A pair of antique nesting bird cages on Amazon.

A pair of antique nesting bird cages on Amazon.

These antique bird cages on Amazon don’t have quite the distressed feel as the one featured above but they have amble charm.

Anthropology's Gilded Aviary Tiebacks.

Anthropology’s Gilded Aviary Tiebacks.

Anthropologie’s Gilded Aviary Tiebacks have a different feel than the Victorian glass ones above but they have a similar type of panache as the antiques above.

Text of The Hazards of Antiques Envy © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here and Stranded on the Road to Promise. Saxon is also the co-founder of Sharktooth Press. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur and is a columnist on Architizer. The Decorative Fair is paying for a portion of my travel to London but this in no way swayed the opinions contained within this post because I would not have chosen to write about these products had their aesthetic attributes not resonated with me.

2 thoughts on “The Hazards of Antiques Envy

    • You’re welcome, Gail; I can’t wait to be there!

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