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!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Touched down in London two days ago now. Jet lagged up to my eyeballs we arrived in after a fairly uneventful but very long flight over. Although much to my surprise apparently there are some airlines that don't require seatbelts during turbulence which resulted in a close encounter with myself, a fellow passenger and a suitcase - but that story is for another day.

We landed in Heathrow and while most might sensibly head to their respective accommodation and sleep for a thousand years, we headed off down south 3 hours in search of antiques. While my mental protests could probably be heard by our driver, the day was absolutely worthwhile with a significant portion of the container purchased on day one! This is a new experience for me. That seems to be the interesting thing about this trade, the fact that you never really know.
Areas that were abundant with stock one trip can be empty the next, and certainly on occasion you can get to the final 2 days of your trip and not be sure that you'll fill the container. So far however a success.

For those that can appreciate an interesting piece of furniture in terrible light, sitting on concrete in a dark warehouse, above is just a sneak peak of a couple of gorgeous things I found that I can't wait to get home.
The first is a small 19th century carved X-Frame chair with red velvet. I just think this piece would make a gorgeous feature in a room - it's so unusual. I have been wanting to buy one of these for a long time but they're never quite right when I see them.
The second piece was hiding in the back of a warehouse, and is a 19th century gilded mirror with its original mirror. If you look closely at the image it has some really beautiful detailing of flowers around the frame which I think is really unusual.

I have also posted a couple of photos of the family home we're staying and the surrounding area. I finally had a chance yesterday to relax and take a walk and england in the summer is so stunning! Don't ask me what I think of it in winter though, I would rather be locked in a room with no windows for 6 months. I spent the afternoon wondering through the countryside, time I never have at home in Brisbane so it was especially wonderful. I even had company! I was followed for 2km by a heard of recently weened calves that I think had somehow mistaken me for their mother. (They were so adorable, but perhaps being mistaken for a heifer is not such a good thing???)
We're off to France on the ferry this afternoon so hopefully some exciting pieces await! I can't wait...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Feeling Frenchy!

Damien my partner took these gorgeous photos of France when he was last over here. Just getting myself in the swing of things!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We're off to Europe - Be a Fly on the Wall!!

Fridge is packed, bath is packed, kitchen sink is packed and I'm ready to go buying in Europe. Absolutely manic week and looking forward to breathing on the plane tomorrow.

We're on the road in Europe for the next three weeks buying antiques for the next shipment, so Ill be updatinbg with stories, photos and adventures every few days so stay tuned!

Bon Voyage!!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I was leafing through photos on my computer the other day, and landed on a photo that reminded me of an error I would probably rather forget. At first I couldn't work out what it was, and why I had it on my computer. Then I was an existing piece of our stock, but hardly recognisable.

The photo here is the original photo of the piece when we found it in France.
When my father Nick told me he was buying it I thought perhaps he had gone temorarily insane and promptly told him so. 'Perhaps jet-lag has a more sever effect on the brain than I had realised,' I thought to myself. He smiled smugly and said simply, 'just you wait'. That should have been a wake-up but oh no, I scoffed, laughed and disappeared in the pursuit of 'prettier' things. Big mistake!
What I had failed to realise was that sitting under two hundred years of filth and grime was a gem. A beautiful 19th century French commode with its original gilded handles.

Here's what I missed. This is a photo of the same piece retored to its original former glory. Click on the image to view in more detail.