26 March 2014

Shopping with Skin Heads

I know a few people this sign would suit.
The day after the East of England Fair we headed up to Yorkshire, to visit a large antiques centre that often yields good results.  This time there wasn’t a great selection, although I did find several large blue glass poison bottles which will be staying at my house.  Plus a textured grey ceramic Chinese ginger jar from the early 1800s, again a My-House thing.

An instructional book some bloke will get for Xmas
For you guys I found a number of very good 1960s end-of-day glass fish.  These are the largest and the best I’ve ever found, beautifully coloured.  The nature of end-of-day glass, which was literally left-over glass at the end of working days in glass works, means that every single fish is unique.  I always look out for these glass fish, but these are the best I’ve ever found.

I’ve also found very good china, including Shelley and Spode at extraordinarily good prices, some alabaster eggs, which sound odd but they are beautiful and feel so nice in your hand it’s hard to put them down, a great brass preserves pan and some very nice large wooden French textile spools which I fully expect to be snapped up the moment I offer them.  All of these pieces are going to look so good together on our stand - I’m going to have great fun styling it with so many nice pieces to select from.

Wandering around the centre we encountered a group of skin heads, all looking suitably menacing with tattoos of leering skulls on their own bare skulls and down their necks (which has got to hurt).   This in itself was an odd demographic to find in an antiques centre, but even more strange was watching these big, beefy, bovver-boys cooing over various mother-of-pearl handled pen knives and vintage watches.  How nice that antiques can appeal to everyone.

The ideal Skin Head Xmas gift.
Aww, but wouldn't they be cuter alive?

We noticed there was quite a lot of taxidermy on offer, even in an out-of-the-way centre in Yorkshire.  I’ve been disappointed to note that dead stuffed critters are becoming fashionable again, because it can only hurt conservation efforts for endangered species. 

At the moment vintage taxidermy is particularly sought-after, but I don’t care how old the dead animal is.  A demand for vintage tiger skins, for example, will inevitably lead to a shortage of vintage pieces and that can only mean more poaching of living tigers to satisfy consumer demand.  So stop demanding it, consumers! 

This chap wasn't pretty even when he was alive

Why not enjoy animals alive and happy in their environments?  It’s macabre to surround yourself with dead stuff, not to mention cruel, entirely lacking in concern for the environment and utterly wanting in style.  It’s a bad choice on every level.  This I decree, and who among you disagrees? Contact me immediately so I can berate you.  Even the skin heads agreed that the dead critters were unattractive and a waste of little lives.  Ah, what nice boys they were.

Things you'll never see on my stand.
On the drive back to our hotel I noticed an ominous weather system developing ahead of us.  It’s been a while since we were in the Alps, but I commented that it looked distinctly like a snow storm.  But it was a balmy 8 degrees, too warm for snow, so Doug assured me that I was misinterpreting what I was seeing.  And obviously the rest of the traffic agreed with him, because cars were whizzing by at extremely high speeds – way over the speed limit. 

But guess what?  I was right, and we soon came across utter mayhem.  A short stretch of the motorway had been hit hard by this fast moving snow storm, and many cars that had been whizzing by only minutes before had spun off into ditches.  No-one was hurt, but there was plenty of work for recovery vehicles.  Living at the mountain stronghold means we have a fair bit of experience interpreting approaching weather systems, although it’s been a while since we’ve seen a snow storm heading our way.

Then it was down to London to position ourselves for the Sunbury Antiques Fair at the Kempton Park Racecourse.  There are a number of famous antiques fairs in London, but Kempton Park is a favourite of visiting celebrities and Royal families from around Europe.  Even the Sultan of Brunei has been known to bring his sizeable entourage along on a shopping trip.  

Bill the Mutt cried and cried to be let out of his car and into the rain at Kempton Park, but then didn't want to get his feet wet. 

All these celebs and royals have a lot more money than me, but I am not hampered by slow moving entourages.  Eat my dust, royal entourages!  I can shop real fast, and you need to keep moving at Kempton Park because it’s big and there’s a lot to discover (before some Royal turns up and flashes their wallet - or has their Holder of the Wallet flash their wallet).

It's an old trick to present glass on mirrors to make it look more glittery.  When I looked more closely at these pieces, though, they weren't so good.

Kempton Park laid on miserable weather, with rain nonstop all morning.  Even with my raincoat I was saturated, but that didn’t stop some serious shopping – although I must say browsing and buying in the cold, cold rain isn’t my favourite way to get things done. 

I like compacts, but none of these.
Nonetheless, I found all sorts of interesting things, including a couple of hand-forged metal anchors from Devon, a bronze ship's wheel and brass ship’s wheel from Germany, and various coloured glass fishing floats – we went all maritime for a while.  And we also finally sourced a couple of commercial meat presses, which are terrific if you want to make nice  terrines.  It’s been quite a few years since I was able to find presses of this quality, and last time I had one (in the shop) it was snapped up the day I put it out.  So we’ll see how they go at the markets.

No shortage of ceramics at Kempton Park Fair
I’ve also found a number of attractive glass and ceramic carpet bowls balls.  In the early 1900s the balls were always glass or ceramic.  But then it dawned on people that when playing a game that involves smashing balls into each other, it’s probably not a good idea if those balls are glass or ceramic.  Do ya reckon?  So then the balls were made of wood, and the more smashable balls were retired.  But they are really lovely, and I’ve found five so far so they will make a nice grouping.

After Kempton Park we popped down to West Sussex, to be near the ferry port at Newhaven for our crossing on Wednesday.  Next stop, France.

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