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!
Whata terrifying find I’d say… I spotted this curio while at November’s Alexandra Palace Antique & Collectors Fair. It was lounging behind a gramophone and dusty 78 (year old). Whatever it is, it’s a true marvel of Victorian engineering. According to the stalls proprietor, it was NOT a clippie’s sausage dispensing hairdryer but a bygone medical device employed to treat female headaches and paroxysm (“hysteria”). Allegedly a (male) Dr would selflessly manoeuvre this bonnie boneshaker over a non-feminist’s private maladies to increase blood circulation and arouse “involuntary” spasms. My own (extensive) research revealed it can indeed be used for therapeutic purposes (despite its rasping sound – akin to scrambling eggs), especially if frantically hand cranked coupled with a gleeful imagination…
(Above) Dr. Macaura looking jolly pleased with himself.
(Above) A contemporary advertisement displaying the virtues of a similar “therapy” product.
Dr. Macaura’s Pulsoconn Vibrating Blood Circulator & Massager (circa 1880–1920); working condition (unboxed). Stall price; £34 (market value £55-£100 approx). Ally Pally’s next iacf fair is set for Sunday 18th February, 2018 (8.30 trade/9.30 public).
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: “Ah now ere’s a gent who can spot quality… Straight for me best stuff ha-ha-ha!” On my life boss, it’s aaall silver… ‘cept that bit… Well yeah and all of that there… Eh? Drop the Jackanory! You’re a ‘Judge’ like me. You know that bit’ah tom’s worth a monkey alone!”
Translation: I bet you were bullied at school you toffee-nosed twit.
The Atters Ruse: “Welching”
There is etiquette amongst dealers as there is honour amongst thieves (both being somewhat twinned). One should never retract on a verbal deal. Doing so is known in the trade as “welching”. Example: one deftly spots a tabletop bargain desirable that proves to still be priced above ones means. Blatantly knowing its true worth, one sneakily claims it’s a fake/reproduction and offers a few shillings to take it off the vendors hands. This duly backfires with expletives, leaving one no choice but to put the item down.
Just before doing so, some loitering didicoy (who also knows its true worth) fumbles for the asked “readies” with glee. Highly irritated, the disgruntled first party may well feel the need to bark, “I say you oily nomad, I was about to purchase that for treble the asking price!”
Naturally, one is now committed to pay their last bid. Once security has moved the gangrel along, one is now free to gaily to inform the jubilant vendor that one has (yet again) changed one’s mind! This would be in effect a ‘Welchers Hat Trick’ (my personal favourite).
Antiques Fair Joke (BADA Unapproved)
Customer: “This Cruickshank needs mounting.”
Trader: “So do I…”
We Are NEVER Closed…
Michael “Atters” Attree is a veteran satirist writer, television producer/director and actor with a penchant for antiques, the supernatural and all things British.