Published: June 5, 2007
Up to 4,000 dealers exhibit on an 84-acre site in ten buildings, arcades and tents at dmg world media’s Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair six times each year. Crowds number in the tens of thousands, according to show manager Alan Yourston. Conducted on Friday and Saturday in even-numbered months, the most recent gathering was April 5‶ when the weather cooperated with unexpectedly beautiful days, fair temperatures and sunny skies.
Two years ago, the fair’s trading days were changed from Monday through Wednesday to Thursday for early trade buyers and Friday and Saturday as open days. At that time, dmg explained, one of the reasons for the change was to attract new buyers on Saturday. While this change was successful, the total number of buyers did not increase, and dealers were having conflicts with other activities. These issues considered, dmg decided that the fair will now run on Thursday and Friday only.
April brought one of the highest totals expected for the year, with 4,000 stalls holding quite possibly everything imaginable for the antiques shopper, from furniture, rugs, paintings and fine art to textiles, sporting memorabilia, grandfather clocks and barometers and even antique paper and ephemera. Of course, it would not be an English show without vast quantities of silver and fine dishes.
Newark was, in April, a place where decorating an entire home or filling a shop from scratch would have been easily accomplished. There are packing and shipping contractors on the grounds for moving the purchases home, be it in California or Calcutta or anywhere in between.
Tour buses filled with Americans arrived early Thursday to enter at the first moments. Their shopping was conducted all day †the buses did not leave until after 5 pm †and one of the tour operators, Flora Haller from Chappaqua, N.Y., said, “It was one of the best shopping experiences in several years.” The 15 to 25 people per tour were, for the most part, dealers who had shops or did shows back in the United States. For their tour and shopping expedition †an eight-day, seven-night stay in the north of England †their travel expenses were under $2,000 for all the local accommodations, including hotel, two meals a day, bus and entry fees to this show and several others. Air fares vary, and many Americans are able to use points or free miles, so air transportation is not included in the price.
American dealers were buying, even with the low exchange rate between the US dollar and British pound (about $1.98 to the pound), by shopping aggressively and knowing their own market. A Greenwich, Conn., dealer found a variety of good framed prints made before 1825 at prices that allowed for resale in New York area shows. Another New Englander was buying smalls, including Battersea boxes and small brass items for resale.
Furniture was selling well, but, according to one dealer, “Sales in the early 1990s were not to be topped, but we’re doing okay.”
Dining table paraphernalia was also available in great quantities. Peter Scott is a dealer of English porcelain, primarily Staffordshire transfer ware. From his home in Bath, Scott shops at sales and auctions for the inventory he offers at the Sheldon Building at the rear of the Newark fairgrounds. Scott has been trading with dealers in the United States so much that he even comes here to buy and sell, joining some American friends at their exhibits.
The fairgrounds offer a variety of different kinds of exhibitor spaces. The Ford Building is the only heated facility on the site, and the dealers in it pay among the highest rents per square foot, creating a fine upscale antiques show among themselves. It is located near the center of the site, with its second floor, a large open room, available only to overseas visitors. Here, dmg offers peace and quiet, a meeting place for travelers, tea and coffee, and rest rooms.
North of the Ford Building are several rows of stoutly assembled tents, called marquees. There are several, each a few hundred feet long and about 20 feet deep, divided at various widths from about ten feet to as much as 40 feet for the dealers’ display. At the western end of the fairgrounds, there are a collection of buildings and sheds, most with dealers taking small permanent spaces; that is, for each of the six shows a year. Antiques offered here will mainly be fine early dishes, such as Staffordshire and transfer ware, some Chinese Export and a wide variety of other small antiques.
As the property has only three sides, these compass headings are approximate. The southeast side, more or less, is bounded by the Stevenson Building and another marquee. The Stevenson Building again is filled with small antiques, but there are a great deal of small wood objects and silver. The marquee extending beyond Stevenson has some of the finest collections of furniture offered at the fair.
On the rest of the site there are what the British call “casual pitches,” dealers given a measured space on the grass where they may pitch their own tents and sell their goods. The pitches offer some of everything; there are the Irishmen who just open their big box trucks and pull off furniture. From Belgium and other parts of Europe, the tractor trailer trucks enter the field with canvas sides that roll up, revealing softwood furniture, pottery and a great deal of garden accoutrements.
The pitches are most like the American Brimfield antiques and flea market. Shopping can be very intense as customers dig into any dealer’s inventory and find a treasure.
For the exact dates of the Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair, www.dmgworldmedia.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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