21st December 2017
We pose the question "what gift would you like to be given this Christmas and why?" to a panel of discerning industry folk and get six personality packed answers
Now in its third year, we bring you the much-awaited Arthur Swallow Fairs’ All I Want for Christmas Q&A. Grab yourself a glass of something tasty, sit back in a comfy chair and forget about the shopping, the cooking, the mountain of gifts which need wrapping and the imminent arrival of guests for just a moment and indulge in the fanciful, and practical, wish lists of our highly imaginative panel.
Philip Mould OBE: Dealer in Fine Art and Co-Presenter of BBC1’s Fake or Fortune?
“It’s quite a simple request really; the present I would like most is a book on the whippet, lavishly illustrated with paintings, drawings and sculptures of it bounding through history. Last year I would have scoffed at the thought but since acquiring my new sighthound as our gallery dog last week, I’m bewitched by their charms and foibles”.
Lisa Lloyd: BBC Antiques Roadshow Specialist and owner of Hand of Glory Antiques
“If money were no object I would be overjoyed to find a Pierro Fornasetti trompe l’oeil architectural cabinet beside the tree on Christmas morning. I first encountered his whimsical, surreal designs at the seminal V&A exhibition over 25 years ago and despite living in a modest Victorian terraced house in north London at the time was determined to bring some Fornasetti whimsy into my life. This resulted in a decoration make-over with new curtains in the iconic ‘Soli e Lune’ fabric, complimented by a matching frieze fashioned from hand-coloured images photocopied from the book published to accompany the exhibition. I have collected a number of small Fornasetti pieces in the ensuing years and they’ve remained in my collection despite many house moves and style changes. Demand for original Fornasetti pieces remains high and with figures in excess of £15,000 being achieved at auction for an architectural cabinet my chances of obtaining one are now very slim indeed, however I’d be very happy with one of the modern day scented candles in a jar at a more affordable £140!”
Chris Holmes: Decorative Antiques Dealer and owner of Chris Holmes Antiques
“I’m probably one of the hardest people to buy presents for as I have very particular and rather eccentric taste. I like the rare and unusual which is what we specialise in at the shop. The problem is everything I buy for the shop I really want to keep; as an antiques dealer it’s a constant battle between the reality of the need to sell to run a business and the desire to collect beautiful things. Looking back over the years there have been several objects that I wish I had the good fortune to receive as a gift - one item being a 6ft x 4ft medieval painting of an angel whose wings stretched all the way down his back to his feet. It sold so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to photograph it for my archives. The age, pure beauty and brilliant draftsmanship of the painting was outstanding and quite magical, it really touched my heart. But, there is no greater pleasure than locking the shop door on Christmas eve knowing I’m going to spend a few quiet and precious days with my fiancée Chloë, our two dogs and close family and friends. It is these times that are truly the most precious of gifts.”
Gail McLeod: Editor of Antiques News & Fairs and UK agent for Antiques Diva & Co. LTD
“They have a saying in the Southern United States when you want something badly you would "dig up your granny for it". Well I wouldn't go that far but I would go a long way to acquire a vintage classic Chanel patent leather shopper bag from Linda Bee at Grays Antiques in London’s Mayfair. Linda Bee is one of the vintage fashion dealers who trade from the Mews at Grays and she always has a knockout selection of designer bags and jewellery. A Chanel bag can say a lot about you - it is a benchmark fashion statement and if you happen to have some serious lolly lying around they hold their value and make a good investment. That would be my sales ploy should I get the someone to stump up the dosh! My stylish friend Toma Clark Haines, owner of Antiques Diva & Co, always says you can wear a dime store dress, but chuck on a set of Chanel pearls or a Chanel bag and you are up, up and away”.
Edd Thomas: Antique Dealer, Writer and Storyteller of Stuff
“All I'd love for Christmas is a big wooden box! You see, many years ago I volunteered at a rural history museum and there nestled quietly in their store room was the most amazing early oak coffer I have ever seen - Mid 13th century, big chunky legs (as was the fashion), undecorated, untouched and a degree of wear and patina to die for. Had I been the curator I would have shoved it straight out on display because when you go looking for real social history from the middle ages these trunks are probably the most honest and hands on thing you can find. In a world where furniture was an expensive luxury and chairs as we know them had not yet become popular, these crude oak coffers were multi-purpose around the home. They would be your chair at dinner, your table to sew at, the place to store your most precious possessions or to just keep the week's bread away from the mice. They would pass through generations because they were useful and indestructible rather than elegant, but as each generation used them in turn, a few more crude repairs would emerge, a bored child or two would carve their initials and a whole lot more grease from oily hands would polish the surface till it appeared waxed. Since that time in the Museum I must admit I've quietly trawled salerooms and fairs in the hope that something similar would slip through the net and into my living room, but sadly nothing so far has lived up to that first amazing encounter. Therefore Santa, I'm going to leave a bigger space under the tree this year, just in case!“
Janice Issitt: Lifestyle Photographer & Blogger
“I'm in the process of trying to buy a new house and the one I've got my fingers crossed for is a lovely Suffolk cottage dating back to the 16th Century. I have quite a big wish list of things I would like for the new house; French antiques like lovely old armoires, a beautiful bed and kitchen larder cupboards, mirrors with lots of foxing on them and chairs which are bare down to the hessian. I'm also currently on the hunt for the perfect kitchen table and chairs and free-standing kitchen cupboards to eventually replace those in-situ. A lovely old, long refectory table with just the right patina is high up on my wish list too. So, if any of those amazing sellers at ASFairs think they have just the thing then please do come and introduce yourselves to me on Instagram if you are in the Norfolk/Suffolk area”.
If you've enjoyed reading about our panel's gift hopes and dreams then you may want to take a look at last year's All I Want for Christmas.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and may all your wishes come true. See you all in 2018. Best wishes from all at Arthur Swallow Fairs.