The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair is back in its traditional spring slot as the fairs calendar slowly returns to its pre-pandemic pattern.
Kicking off in the Bath Pavilion with its popular trade preview day on March 31, it opens to the public from April 1-3.
“The trade day is good brisk business and you sell more of the bigticket items then,” says Sam White of Totnes country house specialist Cunningham White’s. “On public days you get more people walking out with the items.”
After standing at three stagings of the fair – two pre-pandemic, and the rescheduled event last autumn – he knows the drill. The trick is to bring a couple of stand-out items to attract visitors to the stall, and then dazzle them with the wider selection. Among Cunningham White’s offerings this year are two Windsor chairs and a pair of copper signs advertising antique furniture.
Around the fair English, French and Nordic antiques and design are on offer, from painted cabinets to cast-iron urns to cosmopolitan furniture. For this edition, there is an emphasis on garden antiques, appropriate for the early spring days.
While dealers have hailed the return of the well-loved event, many note that conditions for stocking up are harder than ever due to price rises, difficulty travelling and Brexit regulations.
Laura Wiltshire is one half of House of Hummingbird, which trades in vintage and antique homeware, barware, décor and gifts, many of which they have historically sourced overseas. She says: “Stocking up has been challenging. It’s like you’re running at full pelt with the brakes on. Before it was easier because we could go abroad and we could pick things up from other dealers. Now it’s more difficult to source those items because dealers aren’t coming across as much and they don’t want to battle with paperwork.”
However, Wiltshire adds that now more than ever antiques are an important industry, elevating home interiors at realistic prices and with a lower carbon footprint.
Around 50 dealers are set to stand. Among the long-term exhibitors at this edition are Simon Wharton Antiques, Kore Purchase Antiques and No1 Lewes. New to the fair are Ian Shaw Tribal Art, Colin Brand Antiques, Louise Hall and Appleby Antiques.