LONDON – There was a time when I thought old stuff – I mean really old stuff – was found only in museums. It was probably the result of spending too many boring hours in one when school games periods were rained off. Being shown the Egyptian mummies and ancient Chinese pots brought back by the town’s rich industrialists was a handy way for teachers to “lose” their charges for an hour.
LONDON – No one really knows when puppetry began. Cave dwellers probably entertained themselves by making shapes from shadows cast on the walls by the light of their fires, while the ancient Greeks had a word for it, which meant “drawn by strings.”
LONDON – The auctioneer reached Lot 1624 in what had been a three-day marathon of a sale and as the bidding started to spiral, my thoughts turned to how lovely it would be to take a holiday.
Perhaps a sea voyage, some overland travel and a mixture of relaxation in foreign lands with the chance to soak up some of the culture of the people and the places I might encounter on my way. Read more
LONDON – When an old sugar bowl estimated to fetch for £150-£250 sells for £45,000 (plus 20 per cent buyer’s premium) it’s time to find out why. So, this week’s column is all about porcelain made by the Sèvres company, founded in 1738, although the sucrier, to give the bowl its more appropriate French name, came from the Vincennes factory. Read on, all will become clear.
LONDON – What’s the connection between Carmelite monks, a drunken bricklayer and W.A.S. Benson brass lamps, the subject of this column last week? No, we didn’t realize it either but it’s Whitefriars glassworks, a factory founded in London in a former monastery, hence the name.
LONDON – I’ve already written reams about the Arts & Crafts, and so have others all more learned and erudite than me, so there’s no point in rearranging the words. Encyclopaedia Britannica describes it as “aesthetic movement of the second half of the 19th century that represented the beginning of a new appreciation of the decorative arts throughout Europe.”
LONDON – The history of Chinese arts and crafts is a long one. During the Neolithic period for example – it stretched from the 10th to the second millennium B.C. – China’s artist potters were making pottery incised or painted with stylish geometric and linear designs that, for the time, show an amazing level of invention. In contrast, our cavemen were chasing their next meal.
LONDON – I’ve been given an ultimatum: no more books. We have nowhere left to store them. It’s a bit harsh, though. Charity stores and car boot sales see the Business Manager (Mrs P) often leaving with an armful. I, on the other hand, have to decline, however cheap they might be. Read more
LONDON – The urge to own every antique we find was overcome some years ago. Now our wish list is much shorter and way more refined than it used to be. Somewhere toward the top of mine is an object made from Britain’s scarcest semiprecious stone: Derbyshire’s romantically named Blue John. Read more
LONDON – In 1899, Christopher Dresser was hailed in the pages of The Studio – the bible of Victorian and Edwardian craftsmen artists – as “perhaps the greatest of commercial designers, imposing his fantasy and invention upon the ordinary output of British industry.” Read more