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A Portrait of Countess Felicia Novosielski, 1791, by Angelica Kaufmann, R.A. Courtesy of Rafael Valls, Ltd.

From its elegant design to the quality of events offered—everything from wine tasting to fashion shows—the ninth annual British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) Antiques & Fine Art Fair, held March 21 to 27 at the Duke of York’s Headquarters in London, was spectacular.

A steady stream of 16,000 visitors maintained last year’s record attendance figure and came to buy despite the gloomy weather and economic forecast. An increase of international buyers, including many South American and Spanish attendees, were not deterred by Britain’s foot and mouth disease crisis.

Gone are the days when 18th century English furniture dominated the fair. The ninety exhibitors, gathered from all over the U.K., offered a broad variety of antiques and fine art. Collectors found opportunites to buy everything from a French parcel-gilt jewel casket from Mark’s Antiques for about £300,000 to a miniature croquet set, circa 1900, from C & L Burman Ltd. for £1,500.

Charles II olivewood chest of drawers. Courtesy of Witney Antiques.

Among the furniture, Witney Antiques from Oxfordshire offered an oyster-veneered olivewood chest of drawers of wonderful color and patination, dating from the reign of Charles II, circa 1680.
Rare tin-glazed table salt in the form of a man holding a basin, initialed and dated RMM/1674. Courtesy of Jonathan Horne.

London clock specialists Raffety & Walwyn sold an unusual George II teardrop tavern clock, circa 1790, for about £15,000 as well as a number of good early bracket and mantel clocks. Some of the exhibited items even offered a little bit of spicy history. For example, David Gibbins displayed a French-cased clock, circa 1820, that Edward VII had given to his mistress, Alice Keppel, grandmother of Camilla Parker-Bowles, who is involved with Prince Charles.

Ceramics, always a strength at British shows, included this rare tin-glazed salt sold by Jonathan Horne who noted that this year “sales were better than usual.” The fair’s popularity, Horne suggested, lies in the fact that it “is not too big and is very well-designed and organized. It’s a friendly show which offers a nice day out for people.”

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