Spoils of War (Fun Edition): Bendigo Antique Fair

April 7, 2010

After the past weekend, I may have to change the title of this blog from Art Of Mourning to Art of Burglary, as the Bendigo Antique Fair was not only one of the most entertaining fairs I’ve been to in a very long time, but it was also one of the most fertile!

I was blessed with wonderful weather and a rather leisurely drive to Bendigo (a good 2hrs from the city), my iPhone was fully charged and my Twitter account was ready to receive live updates from the floor (shame on you if you weren’t following).

On the way, I noticed a sign saying ‘Castlemaine Antique Fair, which made my little heart sing. Another fair on the same day! Two fairs is almost antique overload for a man like myself, containing the kind of joy is almost impossible, so beware anyone who dared to walk near me. After finding myself on an unmade road out the back of the town, I eventually realised that the fair was on in the centre of the city. Much to my chagrin, there weren’t any signs indicating where the fair was inside the city and I’ll be damned if I knew that the Midland Highway turned into Baker St for about one block (silly me).

Inside, I found that it wasn’t any more than a couple of dealers in a hall, but I did happen upon a seller that I grew up with and haven’t seen for many years! After a wonderful chat and casually side-stepping a rather dubious miniature (oh, it was genuine, but the allusions to it being mourning were specious at best), I kicked the Mini into high gear and set sail for Bendigo.

Strangely, I got a park right out the front of the venue and there were plenty of parks left over. Unlike Ballarat, there wasn’t even a line of disgruntled octogenarians snaking out the door.

In Ballarat, one charming dealer sold me a magnificent bracelet and his was the first cabinet I descended upon as I entered. There was a another lovely bracelet and a quite nice ring, but in the end, I decided to let them pass me by, as the prices were a little too rich for my blood. Perhaps next time?

Further inside was where the treasure lay… Oh yes, it wasn’t as big as Ballarat, but it had these things going for it:

  • Decent air conditioning
  • Friendly dealers (met with another old friend I hadn’t seen in years and I was so happy that I bought a lovely brooch from her)
  • Happy/Kind/Friendly patrons who listened to me ramble on about old jewellery and hung on every word!

So, my fears of being beaten by old women were completely unfounded and apart from a threat to choke me for my rather opulent mourning necklace/locket that I had on, things went rather swimmingly. The only drawback of the venue was no eftpos machine, so I had to make the trek into the town (twice) to get cash out.

So, what did I end up with? A box of five brooches, all first half 19th century – I asked the very sweet dealer to put a price on the box, she graciously gave me a price for well under $100 each (I almost felt dirty buying them so cheap… Almost). Another garnet-surrounded early 19th century brooch for absolutely no money whatsoever, it came from a kind clock repairman who had it hanging around (found it in between a couple of pocket watches, I knew my love of horology would pay off some day) and the aforementioned scarf pin/brooch from the late 19th century. That one is quite a lovely piece, it’s in an eternity twist, quite heavy, has Victorian Rococo flourishes, black enamel and paste. That was the most expensive thing, but on the whole, it was next to nothing.

Satisfaction ensued.

In the end, the poor Lady K was taken ill, so as a little present, I got her a book on Kitchenalia (she does like her cooking), an Art Deco Sir John Bennett plate to finish off her collection of that setting and on the way back, I popped into one of my favourite wineries (Paramoor) and got her a few bottles of vino (for when she gets better) and cruised home with a big grin on my face.

So in the end, thank you Bendigo for reaffirming my love for collecting and for listening to my little lectures on memorial and sentimental jewellery, there wasn’t a yawn or a glazed eye in the house!

If you’re free next Easter, I highly recommend you head down to the Bendigo Antique Fair and enjoy, it’s a long weekend and these things are for people to enjoy, not to punch small, effeminate jewellery historians out of the way for.

6 Responses to “Spoils of War (Fun Edition): Bendigo Antique Fair”

  1. Tom Says:

    Looks like you had a great weekend and added some nice pieces to your collection. Have you got a favourite of the new pieces?


  2. Absolutely, in fact, I’ve turned down quite a lot of pieces just because they didn’t ‘feel’ right, it’s like when designing, you just know it in your belly when it’s right for you. In Bendigo, I turned down the bracelet and a couple of rings, not necessarily because of the money (I’d drop several figures on a piece), just because they didn’t have that emotional resonance.


  3. It is rather valuable phrase


  4. […] Yes, it did. In fact, it’s one of the best fairs I’ve been to since Bendigo. Why? Read […]


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