Away with the Fairies; HOMES AND PROPERTY; Think Small: Next Month's Sales Are for Antiques Enthusiasts Who Love the Little Things in Life

By Burroughs, Katrina | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Away with the Fairies; HOMES AND PROPERTY; Think Small: Next Month's Sales Are for Antiques Enthusiasts Who Love the Little Things in Life


Burroughs, Katrina, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: KATRINA BURROUGHS

Think small: next month's sales are for antiques enthusiasts who love the little things in life

THE time will come when there is no real necessity for another Queen Anne walnut bureau. When you reach this stage, there is no need to restrain hunter-gatherer impulses, just think small.

From exquisite pieces of silver to portrait miniatures, from scent bottles to delicately enamelled snuff boxes, the spring sales and fairs are for the collector of little objects of desire.

Small ceramics, antique and contemporary alike, promise to be among the best sellers at the current Spring Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair.

The fair is, as ever, attracting the cream of the traditional antiques dealers but its new chief executive, Andrew Morris, is also bringing a modern dimension.

David Linley, one of the foremost English furniture designers, is among the influx of contemporary stallholders.

The top tip for this fair is to buy contemporary Chinese ceramics. Peter Wain imports charming pieces from China.

Signed by senior makers and with prices starting in the low hundreds, they have been selling like hot spring rolls; it's time to buy before prices soar.

Beautiful small pieces are also available next month from the Finnish design sale at Christie's South Kensington.

The mention of Finnish design, rather like Finnish cuisine or couture, doesn't immediately get the juices flowing, but the slim catalogue of a private collection includes some lovely pieces. Glassware holds centre stage and the stars are Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva, whose "art glass" takes the form of chunks of ice and other water-inspired shapes (lots 20-41, [pound]400-[pound]8,000, variously).

Some of the original Cottingley Fairies photographs are for sale next month among the archive of Edward Gardner (lot 396, [pound]3,000-[pound]4,000, Bonhams and Brooks, 13 March).

In 1917, 15-year-old Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, 10, took several photos of the fairies that allegedly frolicked at the bottom of their garden.

Gardner was a theosophist who was the first to embrace the girls' claims and bring the photos to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who published an account in Strand magazine. This gave the girls little alternative but to stick to their story long after the tale had outlasted its amusement for them. It wasn't until 1982 that the cousins revealed the fairies were paper cut outs supported by hat pins.

Portrait miniatures are tiny masterpieces that hold some of the fascination of old photos. Many examples are still inexpensive enough for the hobbyist to pick up. There is m u c h around the [pound]100 mark, particularly among the Continental unsigned examples depicting unknown sitters. An exceptional portrait of Horatio Nelson by John Bone (lot 291, Bonhams and Brooks, 7 March) promises to be the top lot, with an estimate of [pound]10,000-[pound]15,000.

By far the most fruitful category for the collector focusing on miniature items is silver. You can specialise in caddy spoons, vesta cases, pincushions, patch boxes and salts or you can mix and match. There are always good buys to be had in the regular regional sales, with the coming month's examples including a delightful bear pin cushion ([pound]150-[pound]200) and a Victorian card case with a view of Windsor Castle at Gorringe's in Lewes. …

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