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Dealers and buyers are set to return to Birmingham’s NEC next month as a new antiques fair launches, filling a void at the historic venue.

The inaugural edition of Classic Antique Fairs runs from December 1-3, hosting more than 50 dealers from across the UK. The fully-vetted event is organised by John Andrews of Scottow Antiques as InLoco Events, and the aim is for a high quality fair that is affordable to exhibitors.

Andrews says: “While many dealers in antiques and decorative arts have a presence online these days, plenty of us feel there is no substitute for customers being able to examine items and hear from trusted sellers all about their prospective purchases.” Plenty would agree.

Some exhibitors, including Witney dealership WR Harvey, are returning to the NEC having stood there as far back as the 1970s when they participated in the Solihull Antiques Fair.

According to the English furniture dealership: “For Harvey’s, it is well located as we have many existing clients who will find this new fair easy to access.”

The attractive location has long been a reason to stage a fair at the NEC. In the past it has been home to the British International Antiques Fair, and Antiques for Everyone (later rebranded Art & Antiques for Everyone) that sprang up in the 1980s. It gathered a loyal following including new organiser John Andrews, who has exhibited at the NEC for 35 years.

The final edition of Art & Antiques for Everyone (AAFE) was held last year. Organisers MaD Events judged times too tough to continue and shuttered the event citing challenging economic conditions and the unwillingness of dealers to commit to future stagings.


Kembry Antiques Clocks offers this Glading of Paris boulle mantel clock for £980 at Classic Antique Fairs at Birmingham’s NEC.

An outcry followed. While some thought that AAfE was tired, most agreed that the NEC itself was a prime location for targeting the Midlands market. Mark Goodger, who was at the last edition of AAfE and stands at the new event, told ATG at the time: “NEC has everything: great routes in, railway and even an airport. It’s not all about London.”

Another dealer who was at that last edition and returns for Classic Antique Fairs was Thomas Smith of Dovecote Antiques. “I was really disappointed when the previous NEC fair closed last year”, he says. “It was the only fair we did and as far as we were concerned it was a very strong fair with the best collection of affordable antiques. Clients liked it, dealers liked it, and this is a chance to go back and meet some of them again. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a challenge as some of the momentum will have been lost, but I’ve already contacted clients. It’s worth a shot.”

The exhibitor list features some familiar names. Among the first to sign on was Janice Kehoe of Solo Antiques. She is joined by Jeroen Markies Art Deco, Morgan Strickland Decorative Arts, Blackbrook Gallery, Opus Antiques and Plaza Jewellery.

In terms of numbers, it is smaller than previous editions and it has room to grow. But low and late commitment was one of the reasons that AAfE was scrapped. For his part, Smith is keen to see that mistake is not repeated.

“There’s a sense that we lost something special and if you want to have something special again you have to support it”, he says.