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Posted January 25th, 2018 by Atters Attree and filed under Dealer Corner

With tongue firmly in cheek (we think), Satirist and Antique Collector Michael ‘Atters’ Attree casts his wry eye over the world of Antiques Fairs - collecting and dealing, giving us an insight into his singularly unconventional, whimsical and occasionally naughty view of the subject.

Please note that all views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the organisation and its management.

From millennia, “Dominus” Atte Ree, relic diabolist and Lord of the Manor begot a perverse legacy; “All Attree's as yet unborn must crave antiquities, objet de arte and Wade Whimsies on a pitiful budget.”

Thus I, “Atters” Attree, prostrate my dark affliction, expertise and ongoing cash flow problems at your disposal.

WTF! aka; Whata Terrific Find!

Meet Allen (standing); I never fail to buy a good cluster of unusual goodies from this genial trader, not just because he stocks the type of eclectic items I like (to keep for myself), but his prices are often beautifully low too - which is great news for me (and you too should you spot him). Now semi-retired he no longer stalls up at the other UK trade fairs preferring to just busy himself here at Ardingly each year. Now when dealing with antiques it is easy to lose sight of the lighter side of our profession and just be focused on flogging some bargain quality item solely for money.  When I spotted this ridiculous looking plastic skeleton on his stall I threw caution to the wind and merrily forked out £15 purely for the comedic entertainment I’d hoped lay ahead. Frankly, by the time I’d driven the corpse home, the joke had worn as thin as its waistline and the only thing left to do was pop a silly hat on its head and just focus on flogging the bargain “quality” item solely for money.

Ardingly’s (South of England) next iacf fair: Tuesday 6th March (9am5pm £20 entry) to Wednesday 7th (8am4pm £5 entry or free with Tuesday ticket) 2018

The Unscrupulous Vendor’s Polari 

The Antiques Trade very much has its own patois, and it's always valuable to know a bit of it, in order to avoid embarrassing oneself.

For example:

Vernacular: “Yea… had a few good touches back then. Can’t get the stuff now! Used to. Old ‘Todd The Totter’, Crombie Harris and the boys. They’d sniff out a few stiffs or crip’s like, do the knock...bosh, bosh, bosh! Arf their gaff mashed. Not the best gear mind… They’d give a cockle and a slap for that! Ha! Ha! Yeah, colourful characters back then... And each one a gentleman!

Translation: It is unlikely that Todd the Totter, Crombie Harris (Gent) or the reminiscing “dealer” were ever members of the British Antiques Dealers’ Association (BADA).

The Atters Ruse: Any Old Iron? 

During one of my recent town centre rambles, I noted two ‘Hipster' youths point at a listed building (ruined as a Starbucks) and exclaim “Look at that rat hole!” I was inclined to agree at first, when I then realized they were pointing at a Hobbit-sized hollow by the cafes front door. All I could do was guffaw, for within this arched cranny was once housed not mutated vermin, but a noble wrought iron boot scraper.

Such was the etiquette of our hygienic forbears. Sadly, such consideration no longer prevails. Even during the 70s, we had ‘soap on a string’ - now it's just a fetid dog. It is a travesty then, that such architectural antiques (or “street furniture” as they are also known) should be shunned by the trainer clad masses of today whose only concept of Crystal Palace is that of the sweaty football team. The Victorians had an obsessive penchant for wrought iron in general. Iron was the "with-it" status symbol for power, wealth and modernity and the industrial revolution hatched many fine examples of creative ingenuity. The blitz may have heralded an urban cleansing of ironwork for the production of Spitfires, cigar cutters and Whitehall propaganda, but despite the dubious recycling (not unlike today’s), countless Victorian examples somehow survived with modern historians, collectors and designers hailing such works as de rigueur today, as ever. Reclaimed antique original pieces can still be bought from architectural salvage emporia and the larger antique fairs, but expect to pay a premium for the privilege - and for your van's buckled suspension!

Failing that; there's always that traditional backhander for your local council (they simply revel in ripping out original urban fixtures and fittings). As for taste, there is little comparison between a bold and exquisite Regency gazebo, forged by Hephaestus himself and the tragic anorexia of a 1980s spelter latch gate; the latter may be found adorning asbestos clad ‘Tudorette’ bungalows. One wonders if such grim trimmings are a shrewd security measure; I'd walk blindly past one too. 

Pictured above: A selection of ornate reclaimed Victorian cast iron radiators (just like the ones I remember from school). Examples can be bought for around £100 - £3000 depending on their size, design and condition.

Antiques Fair Joke (BADA Unapproved)

Customer: “Ah my good fellow, is that your à la Poupée?”

Trader: “Naa mate, me bin needs hosing...”


Michael “Atters” Attree is a veteran satirist writer, television producer/director and actor with a penchant for antiques, the supernatural and all things British. 

More of Atters via: 
and Antiques, vintage objet d’art & sartorial delights by AttersAntiques




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