LONDON – Sales of art and antiques at the Winter Olympia Fair, which ran from November 11 to 17, provided a welcome balance for dealers at a time when the trade as a whole had been experiencing a difficult market. Sectors which found good interest and sales included paintings, silver, ceramics, smaller fine furniture, clocks, jewelry and decorative pieces.
The fair closed on Sunday, November 17 with a gate of 20,058, down 7 percent from the previous year’s 21,657. Dealers commented on the quality of visitors who showed strong interest, despite a resistance to higher-priced rdf_Descriptions. Many dealers said that private customers were being very careful with their spending, which meant fewer spontaneous sales at the top end of the market. However, there were reports of larger deals taking place at over £80,000 in the pictures sector. One leading provincial art dealer was encouraged by sales, saying, “The attendance for Olympia was far higher than at regional shows we have recently exhibited at, and interest more positive.”
Commenting at the close of the Winter Olympia, Dan Gorton, director of the fair, said: “Our exhibitors have responded magnificently to the challenge faced by the trade at this time, and presented a level of quality throughout that must match the best we have seen at Olympia. We have had many compliments on the standards of excellence of both the stands and their contents from visitors and from the media. The fair has again proved its worth as the premier event in the country during the latter part of the year.”
The loan exhibition, “Threads of America,” was warmly received by visitors. Many had made a special trip to view it and attend the fair. William McNought, director of the American Museum in Britain, Bath, who lent the feature, said they had benefited greatly from the exposure and enjoyed overwhelming response from the public and dealers.
Successful lectures and TV coverage manifestly boosted sales for some dealers, from glass to clocks. Oriental dealers noted good numbers of customers from the Far East, and the best-attended lecture was a specialist talk about the effect of the China trade on English garden design.
Several exhibitors reported good trading.
In paintings, Haynes Fine Art of Broadway experienced a good show with steady business in affordable British works priced from £2,000 to £15,000. The Willow Gallery’s sales included a market scene by Schendel marked at £65,000. Among Babbington’s sales was a watercolor of a Welsh landscape by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm that fetched £5,000. Berko Fine Paintings reported good sales, including a number pictures priced around £30,000 and a watercolor portrait of a lady by Fernand Toussaint at around £8,000.
In clocks, the Clock Clinic had some good sales, including a French Empire clock. Richard Price sold a total of 18 Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century clocks. Derek and Tina Rayment sold a wide range of barometers, mostly English, for between £200 and £7,500.
In silver, Percy’s (Silver) Ltd had steady sales of rdf_Descriptions offering good long-term investment combined with daily use such as claret jugs and candelabra; museum interest in an important wine cooler. Fay Lucas Artmetal finished well by the end of the week, with sales including several pairs of modernist candlesticks under £2,000, a pair of signed Charles Boyton candlesticks over £3,000, and pieces by Liberty and Omar Ramsden.
In decorative furniture and accessories, good sales were reported by John Bird and Gordon Watson. Odyssey’s first-night sales included an unusual set of 12 Chinese watercolors of sampans, junks and other boats, together with prints and engravings.
In ceramics, Glade Antiques’ sales included a pair of Tang Dynasty camels and a rare Sixteenth Century blue and white Ming stem bowl. Brian and Angela Downes, with English porcelain, attracted considerable buying, comparable with a year ago and sales included a botanical desert service. Richard Peters said it was a best-ever first night at the fair, and Gillian Neale on the final day cleared nearly half her stand, with one sale of £14,000. Jonathan Horne’s sales included much Eighteenth Century Staffordshire salt-glaze and agateware pieces, and three important coffee cups for around £2,000 each. Among Sylvia Powell’s sales was an important Wedgwood Fairyland lustre unique covered vase, circa 1920, with a “Temple on a Rock” pattern.
In jewelry, Peter Edwards sold some 15 important pieces from the 1920s to 1960s.
In works of art and collectors rdf_Descriptions, Robert Barley reported one of his best November fairs ever. Rogers de Rin had very good sales, including a Berlin wool study of a King Charles spaniel and of “Humphrey the Cat,” both for around £2,000.
In the furniture category, Beedham Antiques displayed a rare Elizabethan 20-foot run of oak paneling in architectural style, which attracted much interest before selling to a private customer. Wakelin & Linfield met many new clients on the weekend. Sales included a Nineteenth Century rustic chair fashioned from a huge tree root system priced around £4,000, a miniature George I chest of drawers to a private collector and a mid-Eighteenth Century mahogany tallboy with blind fretwork and veneers for around £14,000. J. Roger enjoyed excellent sales of smaller-sized quality mahogany furniture priced to around £10,000. Among Tim Wharton’s furniture sales was a pot-board oak dresser, circa 1780, priced over £10,000. Mac Humble achieved sales across a whole range of smaller furniture, having his best first night at an Olympia fair. Nadin and Macintosh’s sales included numerous occasional tables at prices up to £8,000 and a set of 50 photographs of the geology of Britain for some £12,000. De Montfort had an exceptional fair, selling much furniture, including a Sixteenth Century Tuscan table and decorative rdf_Descriptions. And Richard Miles sold a rare Anglo-Indian padouk chest of drawers, circa 1800, from the Calcutta region priced around £2,000 and a burr elm side cabinet, circa 1820, priced at £5,000.