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At the 2021 edition of The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair held last month (June 18-20), it was hard to decide who was more excited to be there: the 60 dealers stalling out, many at a live event for the first time since last year, or the visitors who happily queued up in the rain as the event open its doors.

The rain didn’t matter and the weather improved. Postponed from May because of pandemic restrictions, the fair was judged a big success by dealers ATG spoke to at the event’s close on Sunday, June 20. Sales were across the board: paintings, sculpture, furniture, silver and clock purchases were being wrapped and boxed right up to closing time.

Porcelain dealer Jupiter Antiques was among those who ensured good footfall on opening day despite such distractions as Euro 2020 football by sending “emails to customers and print invites to the really special ones” beforehand. “We do lots of ceramics fairs but this was our best ever Friday for sales”, said dealership partner Brad Dover.

New clients

Acquiring new clients is a key measure of a fair’s success for dealers. “I’ve been exhibiting at Petworth for five years and this is the best one so far”, said Jamie Rountree of Rountree Tryon Galleries. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Several dealers noted the bigger price points achieved this time round, attributing it to unspent cash accumulated during lockdown. Including after-sales (another badge of the fair’s success), Rountree Tryon sold eight paintings and one sculpture, with an average sale price of £10,000 compared to “the normal Petworth of under £5000”.

New exhibitors were grateful to make the cut this year, when a small number of regulars weren’t ready to come back to live fairs. “This is my first one and I don’t know why I didn’t do it before”, said Jeroen Markies of the eponymous Art Deco dealership in East Sussex. “You could tell people were excited and have been waiting to see things in the flesh. Although they’ve been buying online during lockdown, it’s not the same as coming to a show like this and having an emotional reaction to an object.”