Monday, June 28, 2010


After a couple of incredibly successful buying days we headed over to France on the ferry last Monday. A bizarre way to go to work, across the English channel by boat - I can't quite get my head around it. The ferry itself is enormous with a disco, two restaurants, movie cinemas and the list goes on. Arriving off was a nightmare, we hadn't fuelled up prior to getting on the ferry, it was 12 at night, the fuel stations weren't manned and the credit cards wouldn't work. We passed countless stations but they were all empty. Despite it being summer the temperature had dropped and I really did not fancy sleeping on the side of a French motorway. (I've done it before, NOT FUN.) The open petrol station did not appear but what we did see was a sign for the Mecure. Flashing red neon lights had never looked so good.

5am the next morning we were up and travelling with foot to the floor to make the fair which was several hundred km away through fog, but the scenery was gorgeous! We had established the night before that the trucking company had failed to tell us that the truck was governed 10km below the speed limit.

The first fair was rubbish, not a decent quality piece around...although it is quite possible that arriving two hours late knocks you out of the running for the best bits.

We left and tough as it was, made the decision to go sightseeing and eat croissants! It's a stressful life as an antique dealer!

I love the French, and how they go about everything. Arriving here was particularly entertaining. There was a queue amongst the dealers and a queue amongst the customers. Dealers are not allowed to unload before the 'whistle' is blown. Rather than let their customers in to get assembled and ready, they blocked the entry and hurled insults at each other out the window instead. Good to see good customer service prevails here as well.

Our second day was much more successful. I found some great goodies. This was one of them smiling up at me from behind a pile of rubbish. The marble was so beautiful I don't know how others had missed it, but it was begging me to take it and I obliged. It's the kind of piece you forget about and in 2 months time when you take it out of the container you get excited all over again!

Strolling around I came upon a terrible quality repro in the photo below. Friends often ask me what the difference is and I thought here was a perfect example. On the left is a genuine Louis XV bed that I sold recently. It is the authentic version of the bed you see below and if you look, you can see the amazing detail, the crispness and the definition.

This is the reproduction bed I saw walking around. You can see in comparison that the carving is quite shallow, it lacks detail. This is not to say that all reproduction furniture is poor quality as it's not, but you have to be careful. And the world is full of it being sold as genuine antiques.

We raced through the final day of buying so as to be back at the ferry by 4pm. With foot to the floor we chugged across France and waved from the window as semi trailers twice our size overtook us going uphill. We arrived as the gates were coming down. 'Je suis desole', said the customs officer. I'm desolated, in other words, get comfortable the next one is not for 6 hours!

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