They know what they want

The Northern An­tiques Deal­ers Fair re­turns un­der new man­age­ment, but of­fer­ing the same high qual­ity

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market - Huon Mal­lalieu

WHEN I re­ported the Northern An­tiques Deal­ers Fair in Har­ro­gate, North York­shire, in Septem­ber 1992, I be­gan by quot­ing the 10th Vis­count Downe’s re­marks in open­ing the very first fair, in 1951. His words seem even more rel­e­vant to­day than they did 25 years ago and, as the fair, un­der new own­er­ship, has re­verted to its orig­i­nal name, I ven­ture to re­peat them here.

He said: ‘In these days when the terms “aus­ter­ity”, “util­ity” and “short sup­ply” have such real mean­ing for all of us in Bri­tain, it is surely a wel­come treat to be able to visit such an ex­hi­bi­tion… for here we can ex­am­ine and ap­pre­ci­ate works of art made by crafts­men whose guid­ing prin­ci­ples were the striv­ing for per­fec­tion and loy­alty to their craft.’

Back in 1992, I sug­gested substituting ‘re­ces­sion’ for the Vis­count’s terms; now, the word might stand in only for util­ity, leav­ing aus­ter­ity and short sup­ply in place. Al­though I don’t know of any ex­am­ples, it would not be sur­pris­ing to find pieces of Util­ity Fur­ni­ture at such a fair nowa­days.

The ad­ver­tise­ments in the 1951 cat­a­logue show that some of the more re­as­sur­ing early char­ac­ter­is­tics have en­dured through the years. Then, there were re­stor­ers, ship­pers and val­uers, plus an ale and stout bot­tler. To­day’s 30 or so ex­hibitors are ac­com­pa­nied by T. L. Phelps Fine Fur­ni­ture Restora­tion, the York and Thirsk branches of NFU Mu­tual, Stephen Morris Pack­ing and Ship­ping Ser­vices and Pre­mium Har­ro­gate Tip­ple, mak­ers of Har­ro­gate gin and rum. The last has been in busi­ness for a year and is based on the Ri­p­ley Cas­tle es­tate, where COUN­TRY LIFE threw a mem­o­rable party in 1992.

An­other 1951 ad­ver­tiser was the long-gone men’s clothes shop Al­lens, where on one Bate­manesque oc­ca­sion a would-be cus­tomer asked for a dis­count. The owner was sum­moned and the man cour­te­ously es­corted out of the back door. This at­ti­tude to busi­ness was re­flected in Al­lens’s ad­ver­tise­ment, which failed to no­tice that the fair was not quite the same as a race meet­ing: ‘It is the pru­dent punter who has an ex­tra shirt or two “up his sleeve”. Make a point of an early meet­ing with Al­lens.’

For 34 years, the fair was or­gan­ised by Louise and David Walker, who have strong lo­cal con­nec­tions, David hav­ing been a part­ner with his brother, Ian, in Walker Gal­leries of Har­ro­gate. Last year, they sold the fair to In­grid Nil­son, who runs five other events un­der the ban­ner of the An­tique Deal­ers’ Fairs Ltd. It was a most am­i­ca­ble han­dover, Louise say­ing that ‘In­grid was al­ways my choice, if I wasn’t do­ing it’.

Many veteran ex­hibitors are still to the fore and the aim is to en­hance, rather than rein­vent. The tra­di­tional strengths—english fur­ni­ture, sil­ver, jew­ellery, 19th- and 20th-cen­tury paint­ings—are as well rep­re­sented as ever, be­cause, as northern deal­ers al­ways em­pha­sise, they have a loyal, well-in­formed clien­tele that is sure of what it wants.

The ex­pected qual­ity is il­lus­trated this year by Milling­ton Adams’s Ge­orge III Chip­pen­dale-pe­riod, ma­hogany, dou­ble chair­back set­tee (Fig 3), priced at £29,000. In 1992, Charles Lumb of­fered a slightly more elab­o­rate, but near con­tem­po­rary, dou­ble chair­back set­tee, which, I noted, was ‘very close to the Master’, al­though I did not have a price.

An­other out­stand­ing piece of fur­ni­ture at the fair is a late-18th-cen­tury Chi­nese ex­port

lac­quer chest on its orig­i­nal stand (Fig 1), priced at £35,000 by Wil­liam Cook.

Melody An­tiques has a well-jus­ti­fied rep­u­ta­tion for tra­di­tional oak fur­ni­ture, such as a good Scot­tish Master’s chair here, but also has a taste for more quirky items. It has found the pa­pier mâché fig­ure of a splen­didly bu­colic agri­cul­tural auc­tion­eer, dat­ing from about 1870. He is priced at £1,950.

English ce­ramic and porce­lain deal­ers in­clude Va­lerie Main, Carolyn Stod­dart-scott and Gra­ham Rud­dock. The last has a fine Worces­ter plate from the late 1760s painted with the arms of the Scot­tish Gavin fam­ily im­pal­ing Hearsey (price on ap­pli­ca­tion) (Fig 2). It’s a pity it wasn’t Hersey, as we might have got a hedge­hog crest as well as the Gavin ship.

Among the sil­ver deal­ers, Art Deco spe­cial­ist Solo An­tiques has an un­usual sil­ver ta­ble cigar cut­ter and lighter marked for Lon­don, 1899, at £1,350 (Fig 4).

Charles Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ strip first ap­peared 11 months be­fore the first Northern Fair. Licht & Mor­ri­son (which, with Howards and Howell 1870, have been the most reg­u­lar ex­hibitors) has a most ap­peal­ing Snoopy and Wood­stock gold, onyx, di­a­mond, sap­phire, emer­ald and pearl brooch (Fig 8)—such op­u­lence would sur­prise the char­ac­ters.

A bonus piece of trivia: al­though ‘the bird’ first made an ap­pear­ance in 1967, he was only named after the 1969 fes­ti­val three years later.

Paint­ing and print deal­ers in­clude Har­ro­gate’s Sut­cliffe Gal­leries with a lovely 24in by 36in late-af­ter­noon scene of log­gers be­side the River Wye (Fig 5) by Ge­orge Cole (1810–83), fa­ther of Ge­orge Vi­cat and grand­fa­ther of Rex Vi­cat.

A dif­fer­ent slice of river­side life comes with Ate­lier from the Chan­nel Is­lands, which has

Whistler etch­ings, such as a strong im­pres­sion of his 5½in by 81∕3in Ea­gle Wharf, Wap­ping (Fig 7) at £3,750. The Northern An­tique Deal­ers Fair, Har­ro­gate, runs from Oc­to­ber 19 to 22 (www. har­ro­gatean­tiq­ue­

Next week Vis­its to Olympia and Cha­tou

Fig 1 above: Chi­nese ex­port lac­quer chest. With Wil­liam Cook. Fig 2 left: Worces­ter plate. With Gra­ham Rud­dock

Fig 3: Ge­orge III Chip­pen­dale-pe­riod dou­ble chair­back set­tee. With Milling­ton Adams

Fig 4: Sil­ver ta­ble cigar cut­ter and lighter of 1899. With Solo An­tiques

above right: Les Anemones was once owned by Vivien Leigh. With Haynes Fine Art Fig 7: Ea­gle Wharf, Wap­ping etch­ing by Whistler. With Ate­lier

Fig 5 above left: Log­gers by the River Wye by Ge­orge Cole. With Sut­cliffe Gal­leries. Fig 6

Fig 8: Gold, onyx and jewel en­crusted Snoopy brooch. With Licht & Mor­ri­son

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