This Georgian painted satinwood tea caddie, offered by Mark Goodger for £2350, sold to an existing client at the inaugural event organised by Classic Antique Fairs.

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He was among those rewarded for taking a chance on the new event, which ran from December 1-3, after standing at the final edition of the Art & Antiques for Everyone (AAfE) late in 2022.

If the farewell AAfE outing at the NEC was something of a disappointment to many participants, the new fair was almost universally praised.

“Being met with fresh faces keen to make set-up as easy and hassle free as possible was a great start,” Goodger said. “Then seeing how the fair looked I was so pleased - it reminded me of the fair LAPADA of old ran in January, a very classy looking fair, a sigh of relief.”

After parting with the Georgian tea caddy, priced at £2350, on the opening day, he continued to sell throughout the event.

“No huge takings,” he added, “but I’m confident the fair will grow, and I will be there to support it.”

Also standing were many well established names such as WR Harvey & Co, Andrew Muir, Stephen Kalms and Mark Buckley Antiques, while coming to the event as a relative newcomer to vetted fairs was Coles Antiques.

Happy organiser

The organiser was dealer John Andrews, who was among those disappointed when the previous NEC fair was called off.

For the new event he focused on keeping costs low and uniform across all participants as well as streamlining set-up, breakdown and overall organisation.


Organiser at Classic Antique Fairs, John Andrews.

Andrews was confident before the fair and by opening morning he was buoyant. He spoke to ATG from the large stand he manned in his capacity as Scottow Antiques, specialising in British and European decorative pottery and porcelain.

“It looks very good and most dealers have sold something in the first three hours - including me,” he said. Later he reported making a £50,000 sale post-event as a direct result of the fair.

The mood across the event was positive, with many dealers allowing that any challenges were down to the nature of a first-time staging.

One setback was the number of dealers. The fair was created to host as many as 140 and this first edition held 58, a small amount in a spacious hall.

And though it was estimated that around 60,000 tickets were distributed, dealers thought that footfall could have been higher.


At the inaugural event organised by Classic Antique Fairs, Jacksons Antique sold this Japanese Meiji period Satsuma vase signed Ryozan. Dealer Callum Jackson bought it from a private collection shortly before the fair and sold it on for a low four-figure sum to another private collector.

But Andrews is not deterred. Already there are dates in the calendar for his next NEC fair (November 29-December 1) and organisers have reported that 100% of exhibitors from the first event have stated a wish to return. Andrews also plans to open three extra events this year.

Quick expansion can be tricky. Many will remember the rapid growth of 2Covet’s portfolio of fairs before it and its events closed (see ATG No 2566). These days, one key to ensuring a fair’s survival is securing commitment from dealers in advance. Working in Andrews’ favour is the open goodwill from many who attended the inaugural event.

Thomas Smith of Dovecote Antiques was a stalwart of AAfE and campaigned hard to have a new fair running at the venue. He became a spokesperson for the event, promoting the fair on GB News shortly before doors opened. While he was a early fan, he also had high expectations.


Renaissance revival Royal Worcester table set, c.1890, sold by Dovecote Antiques to an existing client for a four-figure sum at the inaugural event organised by Classic Antique Fairs.

Like Goodger, he started well - selling a Renaissance revival Royal Worcester table set, c.1890, which had been exported to Argentina and returned complete. It went to a returning client for a four-figure sum.

“From a business perspective, it was about returning clients. However, there were definitely new faces walking around,” he said. “There was not the same volume of sales as before, but the quality of sales was there.”

As for the set-up, he added it was “immaculately smooth. The organisers were there the whole time asking how we were doing. The marketing team, the social media team came around, and it was as red-tape free as possible in the run-up.”

For a fairs series with lofty ambitions, it is a promising start.