Flea to Limerick: collectors head west to antiques and collectibles fair
Silver, art, furniture and vintage finds included in popular annual summer sale
Tara brooch by Edmund Johnson, with Irish river pearls, from Weldons
It’s the biggest fair of the summer, and this weekend will see a steady stream of both buyers and collectors heading to Limerick for the National Antiques, Art and Vintage Fair at the South Court Hotel.
“There’s a great atmosphere at an antiques fair,” says Hugo Greene from Drogheda.
With more than 80 shops and stalls in attendance it’s also, Greene adds, a great place to hunt out bargains and one-off, special pieces.
“Because it’s a two-day fair, everybody’s putting their best foot forward in terms of stock. There’s a wealth of antiques at these fairs. You could furnish a house in one afternoon if you so wished – and put your jewellery on, on top of that.”
Hugo will be showing a selection of tables, chairs, silver, gold jewellery and sovereigns.
“And then I’ve got lots of spoons and also some copper and brass and lighting,” he says. “I have a couple of nice side cabinets. I’ve a little nine-carat gold Vesta matchbox. I do a little bit of everything.
“A solid silver tray, made by Mappin & Webb in London in about 1900, is one of my star lots at the minute. It weighs nearly three kilograms, and it’s a beautiful thing. I just got it yesterday – and I’m going to give it a clean and sparkle for the show.”
Also polishing up some star turns is Matthew Weldon, who has a stall at the fair with his father, the silver specialist Jimmy Weldon.
“We have a really interesting and unusual piece – it’s an early 1800s pocket watch,” Matthew says. “Early Irish watches are extremely rare, and this one is signed by Edward Hawksworth, a craftsman who worked in Cork during this period. In addition to watch movements he was also known to have made marine navigation equipment.
“This piece is signed by him and also includes his serial number, 17299. Carved into the case is the crest of the Roche family, an important gamily in Cork during this period. It’s a beautiful thing and a very collectable piece of Irish history – and we don’t expect it to be around for very long.”
Also to be found on the Weldons’ stand is a little Tara brooch (main photo above) by the jeweller Edmund Johnson.
“It’s about the size of a medium-sized watch face and is set with what are almost certainly Irish river pearls,” says Matthew Weldon. “We don’t really have much in the way of gemstones – we’re not Madagascar – so that’s really unusual. He’s a very popular maker; his stuff is always a little bit quirky.
“Irish seed pearls were very fashionable and very much in demand – customers in London requested that their jewellery be set with Irish pearls – and, in the context of Johnson’s work, native motifs and materials were in keeping with the Celtic revival.”
Anyone who wants some advice on vintage fashion pieces, meanwhile, would do well to consult Eily Henry at her stall.
“I’ve been collecting since I was about 15,” she says. “I’ve always kept my own very strong vintage collection, and I’ve added to it over the years.
“I’m not really a lover of head to toe vintage – I think if you dress from top to toe in 1950s style, you just look like an era from a period drama. But taking a couple of items and putting them with your high street things can give you a really original look that you can make your own.
“In the photo I’ve put a hand-made georgette black hat with little silk flowers in gold. Around the neck of the model is a vintage 1920s shawl in a very heavy metallic yarn with a pretty zig zag effect on the edges. There’s a hand-beaded sunflower evening bag made up of lots and lots of little coloured beads, gold lurex elbow-length gloves with little buttons and a small gold lurex bag with a gold chain. Under the gloves is a black patent 1950s bag in absolutely perfect condition.
“The second picture shows a white straw hat with a veil and a detachable black feather flower, a black silk beaded wrap and a cream feather hat.”
Louis Walsh, from Treasures Irish Art Athlone, will also be at the Limerick fair with his son Vernon.
“Our main thing is Irish art, although we do collectibles as well. We have Cork silver, advertising material and so on,” Louis says.
“We bring 30 to 35 paintings and we specialise in blue-chip Irish art. So we have Mark O’Neill, we have Arthur K Maderson, we have Pauline Bewick. From the deceased brigade we have Peter Collis, Gladys Maccabe – she only died last February at the age of 99 – and Maurice Canning Wilks. We have five or six John Butler Yeats pencil drawings from the estate, mainly of family members.”
“But the main thing to say is that everyone knows you get your money’s worth when you go to this particular fair. There are so many stalls that the punter is guaranteed a wide range of high-quality goods. The South Court is the one that everyone likes.”
National Antiques, Art and Vintage Fair, South Court Hotel, Raheen roundabout, Limerick, June 16th and 7th.