11 October 2013

The Semi-Industrial Look is Still On Trend - Dammit!

One of the excellent glass chooks in a basket that
I've sourced.  I also have a couple of lovely
caramel coloured ceramic ones.  They will make
a nice display when put together.
We prevaricated over attending the Dealers' Day at the Lincoln Antiques Fair.  £20 each for entry on Dealers' Day versus £5 entry on Punters’ Day is a big difference.  In the end we decided to attend Dealers' Day at around midday, after the dealers had time to unpack, and this turned out to be the right decision.

It was another fabulous autumn day – t-shirt weather.  The Lincoln Fair is enormous, covering many acres, so walkie-talkies are essential if Doug and I want to find each other after he has taken things back to the van.  And he took things back to the van a lot, so the walkie-talkies saw some use.

We were on a mission to find more good enamelware and those elusive Jamie Oliver giant wooden boards.  This was one of the last chances to find them, so our eyes were peeled.  And at last, success!  I wanted Jamie Oliver boards, and boy did I get Jamie Oliver boards.  And, even better, this time I have three round boards as well as the more usual rectangular boards. 
I am suddenly going through a Pretty Plate Phase.
This one is staying home with me, but I've found
some other really lovely ones to offer.
Many people have asked if I could get the round boards, which were originally used for curing large rounds of cheese.  The answer has always been no, because they are few and far between and when I have seen them they have been horribly expensive.  The round boards I found were more expensive than the rectangular ones, but this time they were affordable so I scooped them up.  And this was one of the advantages of attending on Dealers' Day – it costs a whole lot more to get in, but the best bargains are available.

My next task was to find some good French rural metalware.  I already had the giant wire basket from the Porte de Vanves markets in Paris, but as you know I may well be keeping that one so I needed some stock.  Metal potato baskets always sold promptly in the shop so I was on the hunt for some.  They are utilitarian items, but their spare lines are very attractive.  But boy, has the price gone up on potato baskets!  Who would have thought that the market for potato baskets would take off? 
How good is this cockerel teapot?  He's one of a
number of good quality and interesting teapots
I'm bringing back.
Having said that, over the years the prices for good industrial and semi-industrial pieces has risen steadily, as interior decorators discovered the look and then homeware stores followed the trend.  But nothing beats the original pieces, in terms of looks or quality or actual useability.  The reproduction items in homeware stores are often so flimsy that you would never dream of trying to use them – they are just for looking at.

But this sought-after status has now impacted even on potato baskets, making my job as a buyer that much more difficult.  So I picked up only three baskets, but each one is completely different so I’m happy with the selection.  I would like a few more, if I can find some bargains, but bargains on the semi-industrial front are becoming more difficult to find, so we’ll see what I can do.

This looks totally uncomfortable and is
totally reproduction.  There are a great
many undeclared reproduction items
at the big Fairs, so you have to be on
guard and use your good judgement. 
This one is bleedin' obvious, though.
We packed our purchases promptly, so decided to revisit the Lincoln Fair on Punters’ Day, which our Dealers' Day tickets also allowed.  There was no pressure to buy, having done so well the day before, so we strolled around the grounds, enjoying the sunshine and picking up a few extra bits and bobs.  Often at the Lincoln Fair we are entertained by the Red Arrows, the RAF aerobatics team, training directly above us.  I have often thought, as the team has gone roaring not that far above us, that if they crashed and burned they would take out the entire Antiques Fair with them.  But so far so good.  This time there was only one Arrow, but he shot back and forth at tremendous speed as we shopped.

We came away from Punters’ Day with some more good vintage tins, a French copper sautéing pan, a little bit more glass and a very beautiful French pancheon with a deep mustard interior glaze.  I’ve only had a couple of pancheons before, because they are so hard to find at a remotely affordable price, but in the shop they always sold within a few days of being offered.  We have one of our own, and will now decide which one to keep and which one to offer for sale. 

One of the 5 enamel trays we found, totally unlike
the normal enamelware we find.  And now we've
also found similar deep bowls, which should prove
to be very popular when we offer them.
After that it was off for a late lunch on a charming barge on the Trent River in Nottinghamshire, not far from Sherwood Forest.  So it was a relaxed, fun and productive day – you can’t ask for more on a buying trip.

An aside on the topic of pork pies:  there is no middle ground with the pastry on pork pies – it is either 100% right or 100% wrong.  There is a special texture and flavour to the pastry, and nothing else will do.  The ones we’ve found in Australia are all wrong, and not worth buying.  You expect the British ones to be correct, but we have found only three that pass muster, one from our favourite supermarket (Waitrose), one from a tiny café in South Yorkshire and one from Melton Mowbray, the home of English pork pies.  All the rest we declare to be fake and need to shape up.  Fair warning – we shall test again next trip.

Almost all of this dealer's enamelware was incomplete or broken.  And yet she made it look great by using the pieces as planters for herbs and cyclamen and tiny seaside daisies.  It looked really pretty and was a nice way to use otherwise unuseable pieces.


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