Shops to visit
This very much depends on your price bracket, but there are four major routes to choose from. If you fancy a roadtrip, the most affordable antiques can be found in the European Flea Markets (Lille, Munich and Amsterdam are the most famous). Brussels has a wonderful selection of antique shops selling very reasonably priced antiques and mid-century pieces.
If you’re looking for something slightly closer to home, the IACF (International Antiques & Collectors Fairs) are held in seven locations across England (Ally Pally, Newbury, Newark, Shepton Mallet, Peterborough, Runway and Ardingly). You can find a calendar highlighting when and where the next fair is, and there is something usually every month. For the best
sweep, it’s good to arrive early (6am) and bring a trolley. The grounds are vast and there are so many stalls you risk forgetting where you bought things if you collect at the end of the day. Antiques here are incredibly affordable and there is a real plethora of stuff. They are also great for decorative objects, glassware and ceramics.
For a one-stop-shop, you can’t do much better than visiting the Battersea Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair. There are three a year (Spring, Autumn and Winter) and most of the most prominent antiques dealers from across the country have a stand, exhibiting their latest stock. The prices here really vary but the quality of antiques is unquestionably higher than those of the flea markets. Buying competition here is rife so ready your elbows, have a clear plan of the dealers you want to see first and arrive as early as possible to be first in the queue (you also get a glass of champagne while you wait). Our absolute go-to stands are Lee Wright, Brownrigg, AntiqBR, Catherine Despas, Foster & Gane.
The thousands of antiques dealers are available to visit by appointment or you can just drop in; there are many wonderful pockets to discover all over the country where dealers congregate; Lillie Road (Catherine Despas, Dorian Caffot Defawes, M.Charpentier, Puckhaber, Streett Marburg) & Pimlico Road (Howe, Gallery 88) in London, Arundel (Spencer Swaffer) and Petworth (John Bird, Augustus Brandt, Kiki Design) in Sussex and Tetbury in Gloucestershire are all places we regularly visit.
Auction houses are another obvious avenue to explore. Again, depending on your price bracket you can narrow your search and choose accordingly. There are hundreds of fantastic auction houses across the country offering a variety of specialities from inexpensive (but beautiful) antiques at places such as Stride’s auctions to more high-profile auctions such as Sotheby’s who sold the contents of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s home.