The overseas buyers lounge at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair is an oasis of calm away from the busy trading of the largest antiques fair in Europe. It gives the many overseas visitors to the fair an opportunity to rest their feet, quench their thirst, and discuss their finds with each other. Many have been coming to Newark for over 25 years and it continues to be ‘The big one!’ as far as most overseas antiques buyers are concerned.
Charlotte Whitenight is just one of the buyers who has been visiting Newark for over 2 decades. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Charlotte had previously had a career as a Social Security Manager, before deciding her love of antiques would provide her with a far more fulfilling occupation. Charlotte and her friend and fellow buyer Diane Afes-Smith (from Washington DC) are without a doubt ‘regulars’ at Newark, both of them coming to an average of 3 Newark fairs a year. “We’ve been friends since we met at Newark many years ago.” Charlotte said, “For us this is definitely the ‘Big One’, as far as antiques fairs are concerned – always has been.” Hardly surprising then that Newark was featured in the New York Times best seller: 1000 Places To See Before You Die.
Like many of the overseas buyers, Charlotte and Diane usually make an extended trip when they visit Europe in search of stock to sell. This time they have plans to visit Edinburgh and France in their hunt, and will be on this side of the Atlantic for about a month.
“The kind of things I’m on the lookout for include: silver; small boxes; and things for the garden. Anything English really. English antiques always go down well back home.” said Charlotte. “We come to both days, though many of the best purchases are done on the first day. Today I picked up a beautiful Tea Caddy, tomorrow – who knows – it’s always worth looking, right until the end.”
“There is always lots of help at Newark, both from the Fair staff and the stallholders. We can always find good quality antiques, and we can usually get things for a good price.” added Diane.
One of the regular American antiques tour operators is called Antique Trails, organised by Flora Haller (email@example.com). Flora was born and grew up in England, so this, coupled with her background as a Travel Agent, has made her ideally qualified to arrange her tours from the New York area.
“My group of 25 were so happy – especially the dealers. I also have some collectors who regularly travel with us too, and several have already re-booked for October. I run an all inclusive package, which is the least expensive on the market, and it seems to be going really well.” Flora enthused. “The week long tour includes some smaller shows, which exist because of the IACF event, but Newark really is the highlight of the trip!”
Historically, the most common overseas buyers at IACF fairs were Americans like Charlotte and Diane, however, these days a larger number of buyers come from the Far East; with buyers from countries like Korea, Japan and Taiwan making up to 30% of today’s overseas buyers.
Daniel has a small shop in Taiwan, but sells a lot of the stock he sources at Newark to regular clients in Hong Kong. He flies for 12 and a half hours for every Newark Fair, and has been doing so for over 25 years.
“I usually only come over specifically for Newark, and only stay for 3 nights. I have regular clients in Hong Kong and regular friends I buy from in Newark. They often contact me with things they think I might like, and I see them first thing and make a quick decision on whether to buy or not, this way I know I’m not wasting my time.” said Daniel. “Auction houses are getting more expensive, so Newark is the best chance in Britain of getting the things I’m looking for at a good price. This fair is still the best.” he continued. “I’m always looking for unusual items, rarity is the key and high-end, quality items always sell.”
Like Charlotte and Diane, Daniel is also always on the lookout for silver items. “Silver is relatively easy to transport, and has secure pricing – it’s difficult to lose money on silver.”
Newark can also be a great place to source Ceramics and Porcelain. Buyers from the Far East often look for Qing (pronounced Ching) Dynasty (1644 – 1911) artefacts to sell back into the ‘Mandarin’ market. Daniel hadn’t found any so far this trip, but was pleased to have picked up some Meissen (German) Porcelain, which he knows will be easy to sell over in Hong Kong.
Europeans are the largest group of international visitors at Newark, making up close to 55% of the overseas buyers, most notably from Belgium, Netherlands, Rep. of Ireland, Italy and Spain. With regular group trips from various countries coming to Newark, like the one from Belgium organised by Guido Hoebrechts and Monique Lieben.
The remaining percentage of buyers is made up of visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Russia & Egypt to name but a few countries. In fact there are hardly any parts of the world which are not represented in the overseas buyers lounge!