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This was the last IACF fair in London for 2018 (following its Spring and Summer Ally Pally editions) and most of the 360 stalls present are regulars, IACF marketing manager Grant Nicholas told ATG.

Trawling the aisles, we encountered James Lewis, founder and director of Bamfords Auctioneers, combing the antiques stalls between sessions at his valuation clinic at the fair. Explaining Ally Pally’s appeal, he mused how “this fair has evolved beyond recognition to attract interior designers as well as the general public”.

Eclectic mix

There was indeed an eclectic mix of goods on sale, from 1950s suits for £100, to decorative Arts & Crafts copper coal buckets for £300, through to a Russian silver gilt and cloisonné egg (1908) for £4550. This edition also featured a vintage section of 40 stalls, booked by Pop-Up Vintage London and stands from members of book association PBFA.

Three-quarters of the stallholders at Ally Pally, Nicholas said, "are also IACF regulars at either Shepton Mallet, Ardingly or Newark, and many attend Newark as either dealers or buyers". 

The returning customer was on the mind of Kath Rushton, of Kath’s & Teeks jewellery and collectables, when ATG caught up with her. She stalls out at IACF Newbury and Newark as well as Ally Pally and spots regular clients. “You’re face to face with customers at a fair like this, and you don’t get that online,” she says.

From 12 noon to 1pm the volume of general public shoppers swells, most dealers having long flown after their early-bird buying slot.

The sharpest elbows were needed at the jewellery stalls, many mixing antique, vintage and modern pieces and drawing buyers from the UK, France, Korea, China and Japan.

Entente cordiale

Nathalie Mergue had travelled from France to attend to buy vintage jewellery. Brexit no-deal or good-deal, the wider political situation will not stop her travelling to London’s Ally Pally. “There are great fairs and brocantes in France but this is special, not least because of the venue,” she told ATG.