I’ve come rather late to the party when it comes to BBC2’s The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts. Two reasons: Exasperation with the Beeb’s derivative output (For The Victorian House think The Great Interior Design Challenge crossed with Flog It!) and, at 9pm on a Friday night, I generally hope to have a large gin and tonic in my hand, with few thoughts of William Morris, et al.
But having watched it, I am hooked. If you’ve missed the fourpart series, the idea is that a group of 21st-century crafters try to recreate the arts and crafts interior of a Welsh country pile. If you can get over the de rigueur conflict of any reality show (carpenter Rod is driving everyone potty), it is a great show.
What it really drives home is the craftsmanship and skills required in the pre-industrial era with no electricity (lack of light is the consistent bugbear of the modern-day makers). So the next time you grab an antique and search furiously for a maker’s mark, or inscription, take time to appreciate the days and weeks of work that has gone into it.
Talking of arts and crafts, Anthony Bernbaum, who was involved in the show and first tipped me on to it, writes in this month’s magazine on researching the provenance of objects for the era, see page 48. A former director of the Archibald Knox Society, there is not much he doesn’t know about the period’s silver and jewellery.
On page 26, we discover the amazing work of the Milwaukee Handicraft Project of 1930s Wisconsin. Until I read the piece, I had no knowledge of the Works Progress Administration – part of President F. D. Roosevelt’s New Deal – which put roughly 8.5m Americans to work, some of them (including Willem de Koonig and Jackson Pollock) in creative projects. It’s a fascinating read.
Elsewhere, we learn how to value antique diamonds (page 20), discover how to start an antiquities collection for a few hundred quid (page 32) and understand how library furniture evolved over the centuries (page 45). Enjoy the issue.
GeorginaGeorgina Wroe, Editor
This shop display of Rowntree’s chocolate on sale at Vectis Auctions in Stocktonon-Tees on March 21. With a 2D price tag, it appears alongside a display of Fry’s milk chocolate hazel bars –
perfect for the hungry collector.
KEEP IN TOUCH Write to us at Antique Collecting, Sandy Lane, Old Martlesham, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 4SD, or email magazine@accartbooks. com. Visit the website at www.antique-collecting.co.uk and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AntiqueMag
FIRST WORD IN THIS ISSUE
SIMON GREEN Assesses a legendary collection, page 24
ANTONIA EBERWEIN On collecting antiquities,
Sells a sought-after vintage watch, page 39
ANTHONY BERNBAUM On researching arts and crafts makers, page 48
Editor: Georgina Wroe, georgina.
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