Tag Archives: antique

Oh Lovejoy!

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Part IV of our spring antique shopping trip.

Pockets of England hold antique treasures, just as Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri are known for antiques. So, when planning this spring’s trip, we looked for “pockets” between Lincoln (our first week) and London (our second week). We found Suffolk and Essex! Lots of shops and centres were listed online, so we did our research.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Once we planned our trip and booked our hotels, we happened upon the BBC Drama “Lovejoy”. “Lovejoy” was loosely based on the novels by Jonathan Gash, about a roguish, but charming antiques dealer who solves mysteries. The series ran for six seasons in England and was shown in the states on A&E Network. Lovejoy, the character, was played by Ian McShane (Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones). The series was about Lovejoy and his friends helping solve a mystery or a possible murder involving antiques, and usually, they straddle the line between ethical and unethical behaviour in a comical way. Lovejoy and his friend, Lady Jane (Phyllis Logan – Mrs. Hughes, Downton Abbey) dined with the upper-crust in Suffolk and Essex and helped the locals with their antique troubles.  “Oh Lovejoy!” expresses the exasperation of everyone dealing with the cunning, but gifted antique dealer.

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We purchased the first season of the series and watched it before we headed out. For us, the countryside and villages highlighted in the show were a close second to the actual drama-comedy. On our shopping itinerary were the towns of Clare, Long Melford, and Halstead. We found that each of these towns were featured in the series. So, as we toured the area in April, we could easily imagine driving on the country lanes along with Lovejoy. The area is located in the east, above London. It’s lovely, flat countryside, not many hills.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy's haunts in Long Melford.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy’s haunts in Long Melford.

Our choice proved to be a good shopping area. We attended a fair in the lovely village of Lavenham, visited two centres in Long Melford, had lunch, walked around the Priory and visited a centre in Clare, and visited the mill antique centre in Halstead. When we shopped the large centre at Halstead, we found a framed artwork of autographed cast photos from their filming visit at the centre. Just like Lovejoy, we found treasures galore and our little French rental car was full for the trip to London.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

While we didn’t choose the area to follow the footsteps of Lovejoy, our trip was enhanced and more interesting because we had enjoyed season one of the series. You never know what you’ll find when you’re out shopping for antique treasures. Want to borrow our DVD?

 

We’ve got two more blogs about our spring trip to share with you. Up next, we visit one of the Queen’s palaces.

 

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Sheffield’s Antique Quarter Trail

Philip at the entrance to Sheffield Emporium.

Philip at the entrance to Sheffield Emporium.

Part III of our spring shopping trip to England.

When we plan an antique shopping trip, we start with the Internet or recommendations by friends or shopkeepers. That’s how we found the Sheffield’s Antique Quarter. Someone on our fall 2015 trip recommended we check it out and then, we did our research online.

One web listing led to another and soon we discovered several centres and stores in Sheffield. We made our plans and headed off to spend the day at Sheffield’s Antique Quarter. We had been through Sheffield before, since it’s located on the main North/South motorway in England, but we had never shopped there. The Sheffield metro population is over 1 1/2 million. We usually avoid driving in mega-cities!

The Sheffield’s Antique Quarter is located in the south of the city and you definitely need a car to reach all the places. Since we’re shopping for specific items, we skipped the retro, salvage and industrial shops and focused our hunt on the centres. On the printed brochure, over 6 centres and over 20 independent shops are listed.

We visited the following five centres:

  • Langton’s Antiques & Collectables
  • Heeley Bank Antiques
  • Sheffield Antiques Centre
  • Sheffield Emporium
  • Chapel Antiques Centre
This cabinet, sitting outside our holiday rental, was purchased at Langton's.

This cabinet, sitting outside our holiday rental, was purchased at Langton’s.

The first two, Langton’s and Heeley Bank, are located close to each other and parking is available behind them. Langton is a medium-sized centre on two levels. Most items are in cases. Not much furniture, mostly vintage smalls. We bought a few pieces. The staff was friendly. The other centre, Heeley Bank, is located in an old Victorian bank. The building is interesting and there are two levels of antiques and vintage. Worth a visit but we didn’t buy there. The prices were too high for wholesale trade.

Treasures bought at Sheffield's Antique Centre.

Treasures bought at Sheffield’s Antique Centre.

Next, we drove to the Sheffield Antiques Centre because a.) they have a parking lot and b.) we could walk to the Emporium and Chapel. We did pretty well at all three. The Sheffield Antique Centre has a great, helpful staff and a good mix of furniture, smalls, and silver. It’s large and covers two levels. Not too many cases (which Philip dislikes!) We had the most luck in finding our type of antiques at the Sheffield Emporium at prices that work for wholesale. It’s a large quirky centre on two levels. The Chapel Antiques Centre featured painted furniture and items from France. We’re really excited about a cool piece we purchased from them.

Philip serving tea.

Philip serving tea.

Lastly, we had lunch in the Vintage Tearoom, located in the Sheffield Emporium. It was delicious! The girls are super-friendly and great cooks. We had the ploughman’s lunch and an afternoon high tea. Way too much food, but we enjoyed what we ate and what we took back to our house that evening. There are several cafes, tearooms and pubs in the area, but we would recommend the Vintage Tearoom.

Ploughman's Lunch.

Ploughman’s Lunch.

Lunch is served at The Vintage Pantry.

Lunch is served at The Vintage Pantry.

Thanks for joining on our adventures. Up next, in our blog series, we’re antiquing in Lovejoy country.

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Lunch at Burghley House.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

After we finished shopping at the Festival of Antiques in Peterborough, we headed to Stamford to check out an antique centre, where we bought a few pieces for the fall container. As we wrapped up our business, we decided to head a mile down the road to eat lunch at Burghley House. Because that’s just what you do.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Built by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587, Burghley House is one of the best examples of Elizabethan architecture in all of England. It has been the Cecil family’s home for over sixteen generations. It is currently owned by Michael Exeter, 8th Marquess of Exeter, 17th Earl of Exeter and 18th Baron Burghley. And he lives in Oregon!

We did not tour the house, but enjoyed our lunch and walking around in the park which was laid out by Capability Brown.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

You might have seen Burghley before on film. In fact, it served as Lady Catherine’s home, Rosings Park, in the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet.

Philip can always find ice cream.

Philip can always find ice cream.

English Country Plate Rack.

English Country Plate Rack found in Stamford at the St. Martins Antique Centre. Less than a mile from Burghley House.

 

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Shopping at the Festival of Antiques

Cute van painted to look like a gypsy wagon.

Cute van painted to look like a gypsy wagon.

When we are in England, we plan our trips around the ASFairs (Arthur Swallow Fairs) and IACF (International Antiques and Collectors Fairs). They are usually held during the same week. Then, we take a look at other fairs that coincide with them, either the week before or after. Our trip in October was preceded by a fair at the East of England Showground-Peterborough Arena called the Peterborough Festival of Antiques. Less than an hour and a half south of Lincoln, we decided to add this fair to our itinerary.

The Peterborough Festival of Antiques is advertised as one of the largest Antique Fairs in England and is held twice a year in March and October. It is a well-organized fair in super facilities with 1700 stall holders. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Fairs of this magnitude offer the best opportunity for those in the trade to shop for bargains. While we enjoy shopping in individual stores and centres, we find the majority of our inventory at the big fairs.

Another early start to find the best bargains.

Another early start to find the best bargains.

We lucked out with the weather. England was having a wonderful Indian summer and the temperatures were warm and no rain clouds in sight. We paid extra to get in early on the Friday. We were in line by 6:30 a.m. and considering that we were sleep deprived (less than 8 hours during a 48 hour period); we were ready for the gates to open at 7:00.

The film crew is heading our way; time to duck and cover.

The film crew is heading our way; time to duck and cover.

We learned that there are several large buildings and outdoor pitches. Since the weather was cooperating, we decided to shop outdoors first. We hunted for bargains amid the rows of tents and pitches. We found French, English, and German items. We bought well. And we weren’t the only ones. As we carried our bags out to car numerous times, we saw lots of shoppers doing the same. As usual, we played leap frog around television crews filming game shows/reality shows. They are very polite, but often in the way. And we try desperately to stay far away from the television cameras.

Yes, we lost our car. In our defense, we'd only had it one day and although we knew the license plate, there were too many cars.

Yes, we lost our car. In our defense, we’d only had it one day and although we knew the license plate, there were too many cars.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted and tired of all the walking and carrying. Our shipper was not with us and, boy, did we miss him. We had not even been in any of the buildings. We changed up our plans on Saturday, so we could come back the next day and shop some more. We are dedicated!

The Cuckoo at The Cuckoo

The Cuckoo at The Cuckoo

At the end of day one, we ate at The Cuckoo in Alwalton. It’s a country pub and restaurant. There’s nothing quite like a pint of Cider and a loaf of homemade artisan bread at the end of a long day of shopping.

Warm artisan bread.

Warm artisan bread.

We highly recommend the Festival of Antiques at Peterborough. Check out their website at http://www.festivalofantiques.co.uk/

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“Roses and Castles” on Useful Household Objects.

Sample of "Roses"

Sample of “Roses”

We like to buy folk art pieces for the store because of the combination of art and utility. At any given time, we will have hooked rugs, lace, woven pillowcases, samplers, painted paper mache’ trays, woven coverlets, and toleware for sale in the store. The last time we shopped in England, we found several examples of another folk art, the “Roses and Castles”.

Folk art milk jug at the store.

Folk art milk jug at the store.

“Roses and Castles” is another name for folk art made by people who sail the narrowboats on the canals in England. There are more than 2,000 miles of canals in England and Wales and it is estimated that over 35,000 narrowboats, or canal boats are sailing today. Just imagine spending the summer leisurely sailing and crisscrossing the island. As you sail, you decorate your watering can using your paints and brush.

A traditional paintwork.

A traditional paintwork.

Painting objects on the narrowboats began in the late 1800s, when many of the working boats were turned into homes, rather than for transporting cargo. Typically, the rose is the illustration used on regular household and garden objects, pails, buckets, watering cans, etc. More elaborate items have painted castles on them. The interior and exterior of the narrowboats are also painted, as are door frames and windows.

Rose motif

Rose motif

Stop by the store and take a look around at the folk art pieces. Be inspired to create or surround yourself with beautiful objects that make you smile.

A Rose and Castle lidded jug. English, antique.

A Rose and Castle lidded jug. English, antique.

Watering can, English, metal, painted with "Roses", narrowboat antique.

Watering can, English, metal, painted with “Roses”, narrowboat antique.

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Americans in the English Midlands.

Our latest adventure via photos.

Freedom is your own car and your own townhouse atop Lincoln. This open door was our home base for eight days in April 2015.

Freedom is your own car and your own townhouse atop Lincoln. This open door was our home base for eight days in April 2015.

We shopped our regular English antique fairs, shops and centres and found some treasures at some new locations.

We shopped our regular English antique fairs, shops and centres and found some treasures at some new locations.

We met up with our regular dealers from the UK and the Continent and made some new connections. The orange engineer tape marks our purchases. Need a cross for your garden?

We met up with our regular dealers from the UK and the Continent and made some new connections. The orange engineer tape marks our purchases. Need a cross for your garden?

We bought our regular stock items, like horse brasses. (hundreds of them) This is Philip and Dealer Derek, who was kind enough to bring more from home sorting the good from the mediocre.

We bought our regular stock items, like horse brasses. (hundreds of them) This is Philip and Dealer Derek, who was kind enough to bring more from home sorting the good from the mediocre.

We added new antique items this trip. This religious saint statue is from a chapel outside Ghent Belgium.

We added new antique items this trip. This religious saint statue is from a chapel outside Ghent Belgium.

Being on our own gave us some time to go exploring, like enjoying the Newark Castle ruins. Something we’ve seen several times, but never got the opportunity to explore. King John died here in 1216 (of the Magna Carta fame).

Being on our own gave us some time to go exploring, like enjoying the Newark Castle ruins. Something we’ve seen several times, but never got the opportunity to explore. King John died here in 1216 (of the Magna Carta fame).

We participated in the Lincoln Ghost Walk, the only time we had rain during the trip. That’s Philip with his back to the camera. We’re standing at the statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lincoln’s famous son, and just outside the Chapter House. We didn’t see any ghosts, but the stories held our attention.

We participated in the Lincoln Ghost Walk, the only time we had rain during the trip. That’s Philip with his back to the camera. We’re standing at the statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lincoln’s famous son, and just outside the Chapter House. We didn’t see any ghosts, but the stories held our attention.

We managed to eat at all our favorite Lincoln Steep Hill restaurants, including the Pie Shop. Yummo!

We managed to eat at all our favorite Lincoln Steep Hill restaurants, including the Pie Shop. Yummo!

And we discovered this delicious Battenberg cake at our local grocery on Burton Road. We had one for Easter celebration and one for the train ride back to London.

And we discovered this delicious Battenberg cake at our local grocery on Burton Road. We had one for Easter celebration and one for the train ride back to London.

We saw some quirky British folks, like this group of antique shoppers on their scooters. We had great neighbors at the townhouse. The midlands are a friendly bunch and don’t seem to mind sharing their country with Americans.

We saw some quirky British folks, like this group of antique shoppers on their scooters. We had great neighbors at the townhouse. The midlands are a friendly bunch and don’t seem to mind sharing their country with Americans.

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Exceed Her Expectations.

Love Spoons carved by the labor of love.

Welsh Love Spoon.

Welsh Love Spoon.

In the store, we currently have a wonderful example of an antique Welsh Love Spoon. Carved from one piece of wood, this gift of a love spoon is intended for the one you love.

The tradition of love spoons probably began in the mid-1600s in Wales. During the long winter months, a man would carve the spoon and handle and then present it to the girl they were courting. Versions of the love spoon tradition are found across Europe. Sailors also carved love spoons on their journeys.

No two spoons are alike. Each representing the skill of the carver and the symbols he used to demonstrate his affection. Some spoons are simple and others use a variety of carving techniques to showcase the carver’s abilities.

Our spoon was purchased in England and contains several symbols. The heart represents love. The key and keyhole represent home and security. The daffodil and the dragon are symbols of Wales and the dragon also stands for protection. The linked chain shows the carving skills of the gentleman and represents his captured love. The anchor, his wish to settle down with his love. With this spoon, the carver is saying a lot to his chosen girl.

We can’t help but wonder what was her response to the gift of the spoon. Did the couple live happily ever after? What will you give your love this Valentine’s Day?

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Squirrely Crossover

Black Forest Squirrel Pincushion

Black Forest Squirrel Pincushion

A crossover in antiques implies that there will be two or more collectors interested in an antique for different reasons. This Black Forest pincushion from Martha’s Vineyard is a prime example.

First, it is a Black Forest piece, meaning it is hand-carved from the late 1800s. It was probably made for the Victorian tourist trade that visited the lakes region in Switzerland, Germany and France. Black Forest pieces are highly collectable worldwide.

Second, it’s a squirrel. Animal collectors are usually focused on their favorite type of animal. Remember when your mom collected owls and everyone gave her one for Christmas?

Third, it’s a pincushion. Antique collecting may be focused on a handicraft or trade. This would be highly collectable for someone who was interested in sewing.

Fourth, it came from Martha’s Vineyard. It has a history. In this case, the collector is looking for a treasure that will remind them of a favorite location.

Come see this little guy at our store in Springfield Missouri.

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A Gift from a Castle.

Would you like a gift purchased at an English castle?

A lovely cruet.

A lovely cruet.

On our last buying trip to England, we stopped in at Sudeley Castle and Gardens. Sudeley Castle lies beside the town of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England, deep in the Cotswolds. The present castle was built in the 15th century. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and even had the opportunity to shop for antiques.

After parking, we headed to the visitors centre and ticketing area. Inside the centre, a corner is devoted to vintage and antiques. Lucky us! Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe, handpicks the unique items that are sold to benefit the Winchcombe Youth Team Project. We were told that she either brings in items from her own collection or she shops in the town’s antique stores for the shop. We purchased a small well-made lined jewelry box and an etched cruet to bring home to the store.

Sudeley has a long history and it was well worth the visit. We decided to include it in our trip because it is the last home and burial ground for King Henry XIII’s last wife, Queen Catherine Parr. She survived Henry. Upon his death, his son Edward VI gave Sudeley Castle to his uncle, Thomas Seymour. Thomas married Catherine and he renovated the castle for his new bride in 1547. Catherine was pregnant when she moved into the castle. Here, the story takes a turn for the worse. Catherine gave birth to a daughter on August 30, 1548, but she died on September 5. Catherine was buried in the chapel. We visited her elaborate tomb.

This cruet would make a special gift for any anglophile, especially if they were also given this blog entry!

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Antiquing in Hog Country.

Three Cheers for The Junk Ranch.

Great fall decor, using shovel heads.

Last weekend, we did some antiquing in NW Arkansas. We headed south on Interstate 49, from Joplin Mo down into Razorback country. Interstate 49 crosses the state line at Bella Vista and continues south through Fayetteville. It’s hard to tell one town from the next and we visited them all. Bella Vista, Bentonville (home of Walmart), Rogers, Lowell, Tontitown, Springdale and Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas). All together, we visited 26 antique malls and shops over a three day weekend.

We would like to report that we found tons of treasures in NW Arkansas, but, alas, that was not the case. Treasures were hard to find. There are two uber-expensive French antique stores in Fayetteville, but the rest were lousy and loosely classified as antiques. The majority were garage sale junk malls featuring classics from the 1980s. There were a few exceptions, such as the Somewhere in Time in Rogers, Tontitown Flea Market and the Bella Vista Flea Market.

Behind the house at Junk Ranch, Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

All was not lost! The best portion of the trip was not any mall or market. A tip from a fellow shopper led us to the Junk Ranch. This made our trip. The Junk Ranch is held twice a year, on a Friday and Saturday, on a farm south of Prairie Grove (southwest of Fayetteville). It’s an outdoor antiques/vintage fair. Fairly new on the antiques fair calendar, this promises to get better and better.

Philip working the fields at Junk Ranch.

The Junk Ranch dealers presented worthy items to browse and shop. You can find antiques, vintage, industrial, crafts and enjoy live music and concessions. There is an old farm house, a good sized barn, and many tents around the property. We wondered if this is how the Round Top Texas antique festivals got their start. If so, Junk Ranch may give them a run for their money soon.

Good stuff at Junk Ranch, Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

We arrived at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and were hauling items to the van by 9:10. Cars and trucks filed into the farm, bumper to bumper. There is no fee to park, but the entry fee is $4 on Saturday. It was well run and the dealers were friendly and willing to negotiate. We took a look at all the booths and filled our van with fresh stock for the store. Because of the crowd on Saturday, we figured we should have gone on Friday, thinking we could have found even more.

The barn at Junk Ranch.

Our weekend away wasn’t just about antiquing. We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Nestled in the Ozark hills, the museum is a breath of fresh air for any American. From the landscapes of the American movement west to Mary Cassatt’s impressionistic paintings to Andy Warhol, the focus is on America, in all its breathtaking glory and resplendent talent.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.

We enjoyed our weekend get-away and we’re ready for the Christmas rush in November and December. Come see us soon!

New stock from our NW Arkansas trip.

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