Published: January 16, 2007
December weather with rain and cold had only minor effect on the exhibitors and visitors to dmg world media’s Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair on December 7–9. According to Alan Yourston, dmg’s senior manager of antiques fairs, “The cold and rain were a disappointment, but there were still more than 4,000 paid customers in addition to the 4,000 to 5,000 who are on the fairgrounds as dealers and helpers.” He added, “December is usually the quietest of all the year, so we were not really off from our historical numbers [for dealers and visitors].”
The Newark Fair, or simply Newark, is advertised as the “World’s Largest Antiques and Collector Fair,” and is conducted six times a year, usually on the first weekend of the even numbered months. There are few who could dispute the claim. Spring and summer meetings will draw as many as 4,000 exhibiting dealers and more than 10,000 paid visitors. Yourston said, “This has been a trade show for all its 20-plus-year history, but last year, in dmg’s continuing efforts to experiment with changes, we changed the day of the week pattern from Monday setup with Tuesday and Wednesday sales days to Thursday setup and entry as trade day and with Friday and Saturday open to visitors. After a year of working at this, we have decided Saturday was not working out, for the dealers were having too many conflicts with other activities and there was not enough customer support.”
For that reason, dmg commencing with February, will run the show on Thursday and Friday only.
Yourston said, “The dealers are overwhelmingly in favor of this change.”
Many dealers consider this fair to be the mainstay of their sales efforts. A Decoration is the name of a Belgian antiques dealer who set up shop with early furniture and accessories found on the continent. The dealer’s full-time activity is pursuing the good pieces for his collection at Newark, his primary selling venue. Here is where “the buyers come from all over and lately a lot are here from Japan and even China buying for themselves and their businesses,” he said.
Dealers turn out for this show in the tents and buildings as regular exhibitors, not missing any of the bimonthly fairs. Telescopes are the primary inventory for Bill Kilby of Devon. Some are new, but most range in age from the early Nineteenth Century through World War II and were used in the Royal Navy.
Guy Chenevix-Trench is a dealer, collector and decorator from Essex with furniture and a large collection of wall hangings. For this outing, his wall hangings had the look of commercial clock faces. He was also offering a variety of Oriental rugs with varying ages.
The Talbots, Carol and David, from Cheshire are collectors of all kinds of interesting objects. Their search has brought them to the United States to visit their son in Charlottesville, Va., and shop looking for anything that strikes them as special, such as a pith helmet, household hardware, small wooden tabletop pieces and even some toys.
Staddle stones were among the garden decorations offered by Linda North of A Touch of Class Antiques from Hartfordshire. Staddle stones, resembling large mushrooms, were originally used to support boards above ground where grains could be laid out to dry and be protected against rodents. North had several on display that were from circa 1100 CE.
Nearby were two dealers with late Nineteenth Century furniture. Len Manning of Norfolk was selling his collection of Edwardian furniture, and The Finishing Touch was offering Victorian pieces. Located in Hexham, owner Malcolm Eglin also was advertising for his extensive refinishing business.
Small antiques were everywhere, and there was just about every kind of post-1700 dish available for the customers who looked hard enough. Sandra Canham of nearby Lincolnshire specializes in a large variety of blue and white dishes, including transfer ware and Flow Blue. Sharing the tent with her was Nick Scrimshaw, also from Lincolnshire, with small household accessories. There were tea caddies and letter boxes, coasters and Steiff bears, even some trays and silver.
Debbie Thompson is from Newark, the same town as the show, but her merchandise comes from throughout the United Kingdom and the United States. She has family living near Houston, so she visits them when it is convenient to shop for her specialty — samplers. Her collection at the fair numbered in the hundreds with many different styles and methods of construction, some yarn, some cotton, some were made with silk, very old and not so old. Thompson said she tries “to make it over when the shows are good for buying,” including Scott Antiques Market in Atlanta and others.
According to Yourston, most of the exhibiting dealers are accommodated in the various buildings on the fairgrounds property. This helps greatly in keeping the show strong, even in inclement weather, as is often the case in the North.
Dealer Peter Scott from Bath uses wall space in one such building to erect a tall, vertical display for his extensive Staffordshire inventory. Fine early silhouettes and miniature paintings are the principal ingredient of Helen Miles’ presentation.
From Worthing, the Wilsons brought a collection of early furniture to their regular spot in the lobby of Ford Building. Barbara Peacock and her husband were offering their small boxes in the same arena.
Another local Newark resident, Andrew Hall, has been exhibiting early time pieces in the Ford Building for many years. Until Hurricane Katrina, he also had been in a New Orleans shop for some time, where he suffered some losses to his collection. Now, in addition to the Newark Fair, he has a large shop in the town and sells on his website.
Not to be forgotten even in less than perfect weather are The Pitches; temporary exhibits set in the open area of the fairgrounds, with dealers supplying their own tents or cover of some sort. One dealer was setting his exhibit in a trailer with sides that flip open to show his clock collection. Another was selling toys, including a train powered by an alcohol-burning stream boiler for $13,750. Forest House Antiques was offering a large collection of garden decorations. Along one pathway were several Irish vendors with early Georgian era furniture.
The next Newark Fair will be February 1–2. The fair’s onsite accommodations to shoppers include special setup area for a number of shippers who will pick up large purchases from the selling dealer, pack it and ship it to anywhere in the world; a special lounge offering tea and coffee and Internet access on dmg’s computer all the show days and currency exchange. Parking is free and there is a shuttle bus from the Newark train station, so access is good whether coming for the day or overnight. There are tour groups organized in the United States run by experienced antiques shoppers, and the dmg website — www.dmgworldmedia.com — can be helpful for the traveling shopper.
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