The London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association’s (Lapada) annual show at the Royal College of Art in Kensington is a decidedly British affair. Between fifty and sixty dealers from London and the regions offer a broad cross-section of art and antiques taking in important eighteenth- and nineteenth-century furniture, as well as painting, ceramics and glass, silver and jewellery, objets d’art, clock and textiles.
If past experience is anything to go by, attendance of around 6,000 can be expected when the show takes place from 14 to 19 October. The demand for works by British craftsmen is undisputed; for example, long before the late 1980s art market boom, English furniture, was strongly sought after by American collectors.
Malcolm Hord, Lapada’s chief executive believes that the British domestic market is giving encouraging signs of renewed interest from private collectors at all levels, but whether British buying could on its own sustain the crucial middle market, meaning the £5,000-55,000 price range, remains to be seen. He adds, regretfully, that, “the proliferation and popularity of antiques shows on British television are probably more to do with entertainment than serious collecting and have an impact mainly on the bottom end of the market.”
Prices at the Lapada show start in the low hundreds, and go right up to almost £100,000. In the latter range Marks Antiques are showing a Paul Storr silver, five-piece, tea and coffee set of which the tea urn is engraved with the Russian Imperial arms and Stern Art Dealers are showing a painting of a peasant woman by Camille Pissarro with several works by his fourth son Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro.
But whoever the punters might actually be, the show, now in its seventh year, has established a comfortable niche for itself, summed up by one seasoned observer as being nearer the size of the Grosvenor House fair, but offering ware and prices of Olympia. Its reputation for being affordable, good quality and diverse brings in private collectors, dealers, interior designers and decorators.