The weather wasn’t great, but - because Bingley Hall Antiques & Collectors Fair is held entirely inside - it couldn’t have mattered less. The first fair, by new fair managers iacf, went without a hitch and left the stallholders (both regulars and newbies) very happy with the way the event was run.
“I’ve had a smile on my face all day.” said regular stallholder Irene Homer. “I have to admit, I was a bit unsure whether to book when I heard the fair was being run by a different company - following Bowmans cancelling the fair - but I’m glad I did now. It’s great the fair will continue. It had been left to run down by the previous organisers, but I’m sure it will pick up now. The staff [from iacf] have been so lovely and helpful, and everything has been run so smoothly - I can’t say how pleased I am.” she added with a grin. “I’ve also done pretty well for a first day; anything else will be the icing on the cake!”
The fair is obviously not as big as many of the other iacf fairs like Newark and Ardingly, but what it lacks in scale and range, it makes up for in quality, and also the attendance of very knowledgeable and approachable stallholders.
Fine porcelain, silverware, jewellery, furniture and art are all evident in abundance, and you can see the quality of the items immediately. There is also an attention to detail from the stallholders in the way they display their stock, with most stalls having an immaculate layout and not being over-stocked with items – just for the sake of it.
As anyone familiar with antiques fairs knows, the stallholders themselves can often be some of the best customers for the other stallholders. One such was John Lock, who purchased a pair of stunning Japanese Satsuma Vases dating from around c.1860 off a fellow dealer. They are exquisitely detailed with Japanese domestic scenes and friezes decorated with flowers and insects.
Staffordshire is famous for its potteries, and lovers of ceramics and porcelain will be particularly happy at Bingley. Royal Worcester, Moorcroft, Minton, Twyford, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Doulton Lambeth collectors will be overjoyed and amazed by the range of stock on offer.
These Doulton mice figures (pictured below) on the stall held by Julian Eade, were created by George Tinworth. Born in 1843, the son of a wheelwright, Tinworth was a highly regarded and talented modeller and potter, who studied at the Lambeth School of art and the Royal Academy School, before coming to work for Doulton in 1866. He went on to become Royal Doulton’s most important designer of vases and jugs - as well as his famous comical figures and animals, which he called his ‘humoresques’.
The mice figures - which were originally intended to be used as menu or flower holders - are particularly collectable and can fetch thousands, depending, of course, on their rarity and subject.
Also, on display were Doulton Lambeth vases designed and made by sisters Hannah and Florence Barlow, who were two of the first and foremost female potters and designers of their era, and subsequently highly collected today.
Doulton & Co. had originally made a successful business manufacturing industrial ceramic for water drainage and sanitary fittings, but in the 1860’s they moved into the making of decorative, domestic glazed stoneware, and began links with the nearby Lambeth School of Art – using its talented students as designers for its factory. Recognising the talents of Hannah Barlow (and slightly later her sister Florence), Doulton - quite enlightened for the era - was one of the first to employ female designers and potters for the factory, giving them free-reign to create the designs they have become famous for.
The sisters would sometimes work on the same items; with Florence specialising in flowers and birds, while Hannah would concentrate on horses and other animals. These ‘joint-projects’ are some of the most collectable Doulton Lambeth Series Ware and can fetch high prices.
Royal Worcester is another famous name in the world of decorative porcelain and it lays claim to being the oldest English porcelain maker still in existence, being founded in 1751. Though it has ceased production in Worcester itself, the firm continues to produce highly decorative and collectable porcelain today. One particularly interesting Worcester item was a vase painted by John Stinton, an artist famous for his depictions of highland cattle. John Stinton was part of a long-line of Stinton family members who painted for the Worcester firm for over 160 years and he remains one of its favourite artists to collectors of the firm’s porcelain.
Silver is another thing you will be replete with at the Staffordshire fair. Large, high quality, solid silver and silver-gilt items are available on more than one stall, and the quality and quantity of this (largely) English Silver is bound to dazzle you.
Beswick figures on the stall by Sandra Wadelik are another highly collectable area which you may be interested in. These beautifully modelled and painted pieces can fetch high prices, but collectors just starting out, can also find some very affordable items.
Along with the great quality antique ceramics and silverware, there is also some very fetching 20th Century furniture, lighting and art. In fact, there is something for every taste, style and budget.
So, Bingley Hall Antiques Fair at Staffordshire Country Showground is on the up. With such high-quality stock, a great indoor facility – with lots of space to grow – and helpful, professional staff (both the showground and the fair organisers) will mean that this fair is bound to return to its former glory – or very probably much better!
Make a date to attend one of the remaining 2018 fairs: Fri 10th – Sun 12th Aug; Fri 19th – Sun 21st Oct; Fri 7th – Sun 9th Dec