Tuesday, 28 February 2012

My two penn'orth

On Sunday I went to my first antiques fair for, I am ashamed to say, three or four years (although that enforced absence was in no small part due to circumstances outside of my control) - the Runnymede Hall Antique & Collectors Fair in Benfleet, Essex.

Picture by Martin Hayhurst ©                                          Pictures of England.com

It was nice to be back amongst some really rather nice vintage bits and bobs, items like classic rotary-dial telephones in varying age and condition, silverware (snuffboxes, cigarette/card cases, lighters etc.) 1930s cigarette cards, but mainly jewellery and china.  The event proved popular with a full car park and a large crowd attending; I spotted one or two vintage guys and gals amongst the throng.

What took me aback, though, and highlighted just how out of touch I have become with antiques fairs were the prices.  The last fair I went was before vintage and retro became fashionable again so prices were on the low side but on Sunday, with a few exceptions, most items started at double figures!  Granted there were quite a few examples of really sought-after names, like Clarice Cliff and Lalique - in fact there was a fair share of high-end stuff on display - but bargains were practically non-existent.  I was not altogether surprised, however, as my natural interest in vintage (and programmes like Antiques Road Trip or Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is) has meant that I've been aware of the rising price of antiques but to actually see it in the raw was still a bit of a shock.  I've been to a few antiques shops and arcades more recently where the prices have been less eye-popping, so perhaps there's a chance this was an aberration.

As a result I very nearly came away with nothing (which wouldn't have been the end of the world, I only went there for a look 'round and the off-chance of picking something up).  We'd wandered about, myself and my parents with whom I'd met up for the day and who pained me by commenting on practically every other item "we/ your grandparents used to have that, but gave it to the charity shop when we moved" and were getting ready to leave when I had one final rummage through a box of old pennies by the door.  Most were in such bad state that they were little more than scrap but I managed to find two rather unusual ones in good condition.

Dated 1935 and 1936 they consist of a Republic of Ireland 1d. coin and an old penny from the then Union of South Africa, which was still a British dominion at the time.  I've not got many pre-decimal coins from outside the British Isles, so they will be a welcome addition to my collection and for a paltry 20p I couldn't say no.  (Brief investigations on eBay show similar examples starting around the £1 mark, so not bad).  Around 5½ million 1935 Irish pennies were minted so they're by no means ultra-rare; the South African penny I'm less sure about.

Essex Vintage Fair

So that's literally my two penn'orth from my latest antiques fair experience(!).  There's another due to be held on the 1st April which I shall probably head along to as well.  It looks from the flyer as though it may be even bigger and better than Sunday's one; I shall look forward to finding out.


  1. Prices are high at the moment but value has actually fallen, trouble is a lot of dealers have bought at high prices and now have stock that has fallen in value. Haggling thats the thing!

  2. What great finds, and unfortunately prices can be a bit silly sometimes, but bargains can be had for those of us not afraid to 'rummage'! X

  3. I've all but given up on such fairs and stick to the boot sales because of the pricing. My Gran does the same; tells me about all these things she threw away because it was "tat"... She could've been a rich woman had she kept everything and taken to selling at antiques fairs! Wishing you better luck for the next fair x

  4. I agree with Miss Rayne- prices have fallen but the sellers can't afford to (or don't want to) cut their profit.

    I tend to use boot fairs and flea markets myself, and clean up my finds myself!

  5. Yes...we visited some antique shops on Sunday and had the same sticker shock. But, I did find antique stationery at my local thrift store for only $2.00! I was excited about that. :)

  6. The prices are shocking at the moment. Vintage is on a wave of success and you can thank Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs and similar shows of that ilk for it! I still think ebay is the way to go but it entails trawling for hours, not what it used to be, as with Charity shops, they no longer sell the good stuff but put it on ebay at inflated prices. Ahhhh, the good old days!

  7. Love the Irish penny. I know what you mean about parents saying they used to have x,y,z - why don't they keep things for us! ;)


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