Builth Wells Antiques Fair (4th and 5th of May 2013)

Come and visit us at the Builth Wells International Antiques Fair this weekend. Look for the above sign to find us and if you tell us tell us you saw it on WordPress, Pinterest or Twitter we will give you a 20% discount on any item or items on our stand. We will be  in Hall 2 Stand B10.Penrose Antiques sign

Happy shoping

Rachel and Morgan

The Watchmakers Box

Most people like wooden boxes. Visitors to antique fairs gravitate towards them, opening and closing the lid and drawers. The more compartments the box has, the better. The attraction is to have somewhere to put all the nick-knacks and small treasures that we accumulate during our lifetimes.

For some professions a well-designed and well-constructed box is very useful. For example a watchmaker uses a range of small tools, and needs somewhere to keep them along with small delicate mechanical watch components, so watchmakers boxes were designed to meet these needs.

The boxes needed to be compact, portable and not only provide adequate storage but also a non-slip and soft working surface. They often consisted of multiple felt-lined drawers or compartments of different depths mounted on some for of retractable felt lined worktop. These watchmaker boxes are hard to find and have often had rather a hard life.

We recently acquired a lovely example (figure 1). This box is made out of a lovely golden oak by DC Woodberry of Cardigan Road, Henleaze, Bristol (figure 2). It probably dates from the early to mid 20th century. The box is approximately the size of a large brief case but twice as deep, with a leather handle on the top. The simplicity of the design is stunning. It has 5 graduated felt-lined drawers arranged over a central felt-lined cubbyhole over a further 3 felt-lined graduated long drawers lower down. The retractable felt-lined working surface was designed to be removed and then function as the lockable box front. This particularly box is in very good condition.

Watchmakers watch 1

Figure 1 The early to mid 20th Century watchmakers box

At its first outing at the Bowman Antiques Fair March 2013 the box attracted a lot of interest, selling within 4 hours. The point here is that high quality, well-designed boxes with a clearly defined use are not just desirable, they are a hot commodity.

Watchmakers box2

Figure 2 The Makers label

Preparing for Stafford Bingley Hall Antiques Fair

Getting ready for an antique fair is always enjoyable. The preparations starts well in advance with a review of the stock. This is very important because different fairs have very different characters and attract very different buyers so the stock has to be matched to the venue. The next step is to put together a shopping list, this is a truly fun but a vital component of the preparation.  The shopping list has to be quite general, highlighting classes of antiques rather than specific items. Then comes the sourcing. Sourcing new stock can be both exciting and frustrating because success is very dependent on what is available at that time and being able to acquire desired items at the right price. Unsurprisingly, sourcing can be very time consuming, often involving hours in cold draft filled auction rooms or hours searching outdoor stalls at other antique fairs. However, there is the reward, a find that that fits the requirements at the right price. Buying stock isn’t the end of it, quite often new stock items have characteristics that need further research, for example an inscription on a piece of silver can add provenance, or an unusual makers mark on a piece of pottery or a piece of furniture. There is always an element of risk when buying, and that one item that looks good but you just need to check up on it to make sure. This adds a real thrill to the chase. The research component is accompanied by cleaning, servicing in the case of watches (All our watches are serviced by a very well established watch and clock maker JH Oxtoby and Sons) and photographing. We find that photographing our stock is very important. We keep a pictorial record of our purchases and this combined with good well-researched descriptions means that we build up a fantastic resource based on personal experience. Having done all that, all there is left to do is head off to the fair and set up.

For our next fair at Stafford Bingley Hall on the 8th, 9th and 10th of March we have sourced a whole load of goodies, see a tiny sample below (Figure 1). Come and visit us, we are easy to find being located on the red carpeted area by the ladies loos two stands down from the little shop.

Stafford pic 3Figure 1 shows A) An continental silver and gold Longines pocket watch dated to 1925, B)A silver footed bowl with hallmarks for Sheffield 1902 and makers marks for Fenton Russell & Co, weight approximately 16oz, C) An Edwardian 9ct gold double Albert watch chain (37 cm in length, weight approximately 18g) with a 9ct shield fob, D) A Victorian silver snuff box with hallmarks for 1859 and makers marks for Frederick Marson, and E) A Royal Worcester miniature porcelain tortoise, date marks for 1907.

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