Newark weather dismal but spirits were high


Newark Antiques Fair June 2 2016. Many a true word in jest!  Photo Paul Harris

June 2/3 saw the great antiques fest that is the Newark International Antiques & Collectors’ Fair, the largest held anywhere in Europe. Thousands of antiques industry professionals shouldered their way through the crowds of buyers in search of ‘finds’ on the densely packed stalls of exhibitors in aircraft-hangar sized halls, cowsheds and marquees.

The weather may have been dismal on the trade day Thursday (entry £20, or £55 before 9 am) with skies overcast and a chill north easterly which made it seem more like an autumn day.Nevertheless, spirits were high amongst exhibitors. Put that down to optimism if you like, but sales appeared to us to be brisk. What’s more, most exhibitors were prepared to deal and those who were found themselves rewarded with sales.


A foxy exhibitors stand at Newark.  Photo Paul Harris


They say sex will sell anything but this ‘lady’ remained unloved at Newark! Photo Paul Harris


I remember watching the Coronation on one of these! A Bush 12inch TV now selling at £90 . . .  Photo Paul Harris

The photographs above may suggest that there was an awful lot of junk on sale, sometimes posing as antiques or collectables. True. However, if you really cast your eyes about and penetrated the ephemera and the paraphernalia, there were gems to be found. Below we post some images of examples of Chinese art we bought at the Fair. There were some very collectable things there if you looked hard . . .

P1120001 Detail of a Chinese stone seal bought from a Dutch dealer Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

P1110985 Chinese Soapstone fun carving of monkey group Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

P1110962 A Yixing teapot signed and with Tongzhi reign mark Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

P1110946 19th century large Chinese bronze guanyin Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

P1110931 Well decorated 19th century Chinese vase Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

P1120019 An 18th or 19th century bronze Buddha on fitted stand Picture courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

All the above objects, discovered at the Newark Fair can be seen on the Chinese Art in Scotland website



Size doesn’t matter – at least at Bonhams Edinburgh

Bonhams Edinburgh room

Bonhams Edinburgh rooms before the sale

The old adage ‘size doesn’t matter’ was borne out at Bonhams Edinburgh November 18 Asian Art sale. Consistently high prices were achieved in a small section of the sale devoted to cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles. There were 11 lots comprising single bottles and one lot of six extensively repaired bottles.

The six bottles lot made £21,000 on the hammer (against an estimate of just £6-800) and two single bottle lots over £6,000 (estimates £5-600) with several lots of single bottles around £4,000 each. Two similar lots made just £300 each: what might be regarded, perhaps, as the normal sort of price.

So, what was going on, those in the room puzzled? Probably, the auctioneer also, although Ian Glennie perched on the podium appeared unfazed by the dramatic results achieved. All the bottles were interesting in that they were deeply carved, some with continuous wraparound scenes. All bore a satisfactory patina of age suggesting they could be early 19th century, if not older.

Gossip in the trade suggests that the small red bottles were recognised by several London dealers as coming from a little known collection which, in turn, had acquired them several decades ago from a well known collection. Clearly, Bonhams were unaware of this otherwise they might have been exposed for sale in London. As it was, telephone and internet bidding was fast and furious producing a very happy result for auctioneers and vendor.

Yixing teapot

Lot 354  Yixing enamelled teapot £38,000 hammer

The other star in the sale was Lot 354, a large enamelled Yixing teapot and cover circa 1820 and signed by Xiao Yuanhua. There were clearly some hopes for it as it was estimated at £5,000-8,000. In the event, it was knocked down at £38,000, plus 25% buyer’s commission.



Dining on the best porcelain in Shanghai


A dehua figure graces the prawns Picture by Paul Harris

We had the unique experience this evening of a private dinner party in Shanghai where we were privileged to dine off some of the most exquisite porcelain, much of it a full five or six hundred years old.


A Xuande duck amidst the meat platter Picture by Paul Harris

Our gourmet host, Taiwan-born film director and man of many talents, Qiu Ying Hong, produced by his own hand the most exceptional meal and served it in the most exquisite aesthetic manner: each charger (themselves several hundred years old) had strategically based ceramic objects of great beauty.


A celadon dragon guards the pork Picture by Paul Harris


A 500 year-old piece of blue and white made for the Middle East Picture by Paul Harris


Dinner party guest Chen Dapeng, who has just announced he is to exhibit at London’s Olympia for the Winter Art & Antiques Show 2015, samples a curried dumpling from a plate graced by a Yixing teapot! Picture by Paul Harris

It was truly an outstanding and memorable evening. We shall post some more photographs over the coming days and weeks. Needless to say, there were no museum curators present! We were not allowed to wash the dishes. We guess the maid was required to wash them by hand . . .