If you’re in the Melbourne area, it can’t hurt you to take a few hours off this weekend and go to the exceptional Way We Wear Fair. You won’t be disappointed!

Great if you’re after antique/vintage clothing and many other eclectic antiques or jewellery. You’ll see me there!

November:

Saturday 20 Nov 10am – 5pm

Sunday 21 Nov 10am – 4pm

Short, sharp and fabulous doesn’t just relate to my person, but to the fabulous Williamstown Antique Fair, held on the 18th of July, 2010!

Yes, it was a fair that really felt like the after-party to the rather heavy antique fair season in Melbourne, the mood was a little quieter, but the energy was felt throughout. I took a moment to reflect and to spend a good amount of money on some treasures. What did I end up with? Well, this for starters:

This piece has been on my radar for some time, but the excellent feeling inside the venue (finally, a fair without feel over-crowded) and a nice conversation with the seller led me to just go with my heart and get it. What is it? A lovely 1840s brooch with a hair memento in the back, a turquoise forget-me-not with diamond centre and Gothic Revival lettering surrounded by some Neo-Rococo excess. Yes, it truly is stunning and it just felt ‘right’ to have. I’ll write more about it in the future, but for the moment, enjoy the quick pic taken at the fair.

I also ended up with an Art Deco glass cocktail set, replete with green and gold banding, a late Victorian locket and a modern pendant watch with 1830s styling (yes, sometimes wearing modern things makes me feel less guilty about destroying the past). A cute little watch with black enamel and quite wearable.

What more is there to say? I’ve already spoken about the venue in previous posts and the location is nice and local for people within about 20km of Melbourne city, so it’s one of those great fairs to spend a lazy day at, along with your cash. Williamstown Antique Fair, my hat is off to you!

P.S Don’t forget to follow my Twitter stream, there were lots more pictures from the day and you had the chance to follow the fair with me!

Just a quick update to keep your eyes on my Twitter account tomorrow for a day of fun and excitement at the Williamstown Antique Fair. If you’re in the area, come along and say hi!

Ballarat Winter Antique Fair 2010

Treasure Within?

Normally, I’d say it was the ‘Spoils of War’ post antique fair, but as this particular one was opposite the Sovereign Hill goldrush recreation site, I’ll settle for this. Forgive a man his little quirks!

On this cold, yet particularly cloudless and rather sublime Sunday morning, I took it upon myself to voyage into the wilds of a new antique fair (the second in as many weeks! Welcome back, antiques in Victoria, Australia). Not knowing how I would fare at the fair, I came prepared to scoff at its tiny size and chortle at its trying to lay claim to the same area as one of the best antique fairs in Melbourne. Sure, at the other Ballarat Antique Fair you have to dress in combat gear for all the octogenarians battling you for simply existing, but they do have an impressive array of dealers willing to hawk you some delightful pieces. Would this one stack up?

Yes. Yes, it did. In fact, it’s one of the best fairs I’ve been to since Bendigo. Why? Read on!

Firstly, the fair was instigated by Alexa’s Treasures of Ballarat and they certainly did a fab job. Old Hayden enjoys his antique fairs, so in I went.

And yes, it was just lovely. There were dealers I hadn’t ever seen before and dealers that I had grown up with. I’ve been on the prowl for some jet lately, but let’s do the usual run down of the event:

Venue

Directions, directions, directions. Next year, please have some (or any) sign telling me where the venue was. If it wasn’t for my iPhone (no, I’m not sponsored by Apple, I’m just an iWhore), I would have been lost. There was a fair at the Ballarat Showgrounds for collectables according to the signs, but that didn’t do much to help me out on this case. I took two wrong turns until the spotty mobile coverage gave me an accurate point where the location was on the phone, I guess it serves me right for forgetting the invitation and arrogantly stating that ‘print is dead’.

Was the venue any good? Yep, it was delightful, warm (from the frosty temperatures of Ballarat), easy to find a park, not crowded and gave the dealers lots of room to showcase their wares. Simply lovely.

Spoils of War (Goldrush or Jetrush?)

Well, I really wanted to buy some jet today. I’ve been very disappointed on what’s available and what people refer to as Jet, but turns out to be Vulcanite or some other mock Jet, but I left the event with a smile on my face. That said, I did buy a box full of French Jet beading cut from Victorian dresses, but was far more satisfied with two genuine Jet and silk fob chains that I landed. My tremendous apologies to the seller, whose name I have forgotten, but even greater apologies as you remembered me quite well enough for that silver mourning brooch I bought from you some time ago and I had no idea it was you I bought it from. I guess my blonde roots are showing. Nevertheless, come back to the Williamstown Antique Fair next weekend and I’ll throw more money at you.

In an unrelated note, there was an 1884 edition of Poe’s The Raven that was fully illustrated by Gustave Doré and completely stunning. Graham, if you still have this at the time of my writing – expect my call for you to put it aside.

1884 Gustave Doré illustrated Poe

So, why no pics of those little fob chains I bought? I’ll do a special spotlight on those later on the blog, they’re too lovely to gloss over here.

Overall

An entire success for everyone involved. A great mix of dealers, some amazing items on display that I’d never seen before and a venue that kept me warm and shove-free. Just lovely all over, but I do feel that upon talking with dealers that more could have been done to publicise the event and get the word out about how great it was. Considering the Avoca Antique Fair from a couple of weeks ago had very good television presence and was quite fun and decent, this was really impressive and deserved the same, if not more.

Melbourne is at the peak of the antique fair season and hopefully it doesn’t reach a glut as it did back in the late 90s, which would see several years of little movement or Sydney having all the glory. That makes me think of a story about a year with no fairs in Melbourne, but on a misadventure holiday to Queensland stumbling upon all my familiar dealers and one of the largest fairs I’ve ever seen in a place I’d not expect that caused even greater misadventure. If you care, remind me about it later in the month, it’s a good story (I think).

More antique stories to come and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for live updates from the floor of all these antique fairs!

Buy me these and I'll be your live-in mourning encyclopedia

It’s been an active day tweeting from the floor of The Way We Wear Fair 2010 at Williamstown Town Hall and there was lots of fun and excitement!

If you want to read my live updates of the event, perhaps you’ve noticed the little ‘Tweeting Sentimental’ area on the right hand side of the website. If you have, then you know that Art of Mourning is also on Twitter and posting from all the events I head out to!

Of course, I like to give a run down of the day on the blog, but to follow me on the tweet is to follow me at the show. The link is:

https://twitter.com/ArtOfMourning

Ok, now I’m getting ready to shoot a segment for a television show called ‘The Collectors’ in Australia, so I’m a touch busy at the moment, there’s lots more to come, however!

But I highly urge you all to read yesterday’s post, that one is really important for anyone who wants to be a jewellery historian, or at least, be able to evaluate their wares.

And how was the fair today? The exhibitions were better than the exhibitors. Very thin on the ground for mourning and sentimental jewels, what was there was very over-priced. Otherwise, the antique costumes were magnificent and if you’re following the tweets, the highlights were the Edward VII motoring coat and the display of wedding frocks – absolutely excellent.

Strap yourselves in, lots more mourning memorabilia to come!

One of the most surprising fairs to emerge in recent years in Australia is The Way We Wear Fair.

This fair is based around antique and vintage costume, with a healthy dose of antiques and jewellery thrown into the mix. It had felt like a bit of a mixed bag over the past few years, unpredictable if it would be amazing or not, but last year the November show hit it out of the park. It was just a magnificent day with a large collection of dealers whom I had never seen before.

So, I implore you go to the Williamstown Town Hall show Saturday or Sunday!

June:

Saturday 19th June 10am – 5pm

Sunday 20th June 10am – 4pm

Ahh, Hamilton… the memories…

It may be a little too far out of my juisdiction for anything less than spending the night (3hrs one way *gasp*), but the Hamilton Antique Fair is on this weekend, so I beg you to get your wallet at the ready and go enjoy! Not sure if I’ll make it, so let me know if there’s anything fab.

Also, say hi to Ruth from the wonderful Baimbridge Antiques for me!

Hamilton Antiques Fair

June 5th-6th Showgrounds, Hamilton, VIC

That pain in my leg is actually my wallet biting me and stopping me from buying more things. Yes, reality has to set in one of these days, so I may not be going to this one, but we’ll see how the weekend carries this jewellery historian through.

If I do, I’ll give you all an update!

Mont Albert Antiques & Collectables Fair

May 22nd-23rd
Mont Albert Primary School, Mont Albert, VIC

A Day At The Great Collector’s Heaven Fair, Malvern Town Hall, 2010

The Ancillary Room

When you hear the word ‘collectables’ next to ‘fair’, then you can be sure that antiques are taking a back seat to things like toys, movie memorabilia and the occasional trading card. Being a bit of a renaissance man when it comes to my passions, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but if I were purely about antiques, I’d be setting myself up for disappointment. Why so? On average, I’d say that the Malvern Collectables Fair was about 5% antiques and 95% Star Trek. As I said, it doesn’t bother me, but if you’ve made the voyage to find some wonderful old things, you may leave feeling disappointed.

Venue

A Day At The Great Collector’s Heaven Fair, Malvern Town Hall, 2010

A foggy Melbourne morning... waiting for antiques...

The Malvern Town Hall and I have a long history together. It’s one of the places where I’ve given talks on old jewellery, purchased some amazing things and also been offended by the acronym ‘P.O.A’ on jewellery (something that always brings me down), but I do love it. Compared to yesterday’s Geelong Town Hall, Malven obviously scored the money from the government, as it’s lofty enough to pack in a good amount of sellers and even its secondary room is big enough to fit them in. Much the same as yesterday’s town hall, this one has its little room off to the side (upon reflection, most in Melbourne do), and it was utilised quite well by the sellers. All in all, rather well laid out for a venue that we had to wait in line for.

Incidents (did any body odour or sweat rub off on you?)
Well, the Lady K and I slept in this morning and still made it to the venue on time, I was informed that it was opening at 9am, but it seemed to be closer to 9:30am, as we arrived and there was quite a line of people waiting to get in. I’ve been crammed in some horrible situations before, mostly multimedia (i.e comic) conventions, where (as a small lad), I’ve been literally been squeezed and lifted between the shoulders of rather mammoth men in unwashed shirts that have dragged me into the line of fanboys waiting to wave from the audience of the female celebrity de jour. Ok, that got a little personal *ahem*, but thankfully, the Malvern Collectables Fair was quite the opposite, though while there were quite the multimedia aficionados at the venue, there was no over-crowding or discomfort in the slightest. Hurrah for Malvern!

Spoils of War

A Day At The Great Collector’s Heaven Fair, Malvern Town Hall, 2010

The Main Hall

Well… I have my sights on a mourning set at the moment, so I had to restrain myself from buying a lovely serpent-surrounded early 19th century brooch (around 1820), with pearls on the inside. The only thing that let me down was the loss of the hairwork inside, but otherwise it was in perfect condition. After I was told how much it was my a rather unwitting dealer, I thought that if he was charging so much, I’d let him know more about it, so I promptly gave him the history of the piece in detail. So, I suppose I helped the karmic alignment of the world with my little speech somehow, but I doubt it. He also had one of the nicest fleams that I’ve ever seen, but I have a nice one like it, so I didn’t bother. Nothing more to speak of, jewellery buffs! Oh, I did get a DVD of the original Wicker Man for no money, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Would I Go Again?
Well, they hold these every 4 or so months, so you bet I’ll go again! I can’t wait for the next one, when (hopefully) my desire for very expensive jewellery isn’t getting in the way of my boyish passion for old tat.

To Summarise
Lots of fun, lots of miscellaneous odds and ends for collectors young and old! Go to your nearest venue when it is next held, be it Sandown or Mornington, those are often larger and more fun to spend a day at, but Malvern did not disappoint today and my blood is pounding for more antiques action!

Geelong Antique Fair 2010

The Main Hall (left)

The Geelong Antique Fair is one of those smaller fairs which I’ve been attending for several years, I consider it to being the after-dinner mint to the larger main course of the other fairs held earlier in the year. Why so? Let’s look at the day with a touch more depth. Oh, but before I do, you may notice the Twitter feed to the right – I was posting directly from the floor!

At this time in Melbourne, the light starts to get a little darker and the weather a little colder, making the mood of the day sublime for a good antique fair. The warmer months can be unbearable when you have to get buffeted by senior citizens while waiting in a line to inspect a jewellery display cabinet, so being shoved/punched by warmer and older bodies is actually a welcoming thing.

Lady K and I took the 1.5hr drive into Geelong quite easily, starting out early to try and beat the crowds (as we often do) and generally, the voyage was entertaining and painless. Parking at the venue was decent, though a few more signs could have been helpful for the uninitiated to try and find the town hall. One of my little tricks when trying to find an antique fair at a miscellaneous town hall in a miscellaneous town is to look for the clock-tower roof – it never fails.

Venue

Geelong Antique Fair 2010

The Main Hall (right)

The town hall isn’t the largest of those which house antique fairs in Melbourne, probably second to its Williamstown brother (more on that when I take you on an adventure to the Williamstown antique fair), so having been a good 12 months since the last fair, I was rather struck by how small it felt. Size matters, I don’t believe I have to say that here, but basically the venue was broken into two areas; the first bring the main hall and the second being a smaller room, which felt more like an office space.

Geelong Antique Fair 2010

The Smaller Room

After you pay, you walk down a main corridor and most of the human traffic go to the left (the smaller room), which was absolutely thick with people, preventing a long or decent viewing of the items for sale. Strangely enough, the main hall was rather comfortable in size, so I suppose there was a modicum of balance. There was no need for air conditioning (as previously mentioned), so the temperature was more than adequate.

Spoils of War
Much of what was for sale seemed to carry on from the previous antique fairs this year. I don’t blame the dealers, turning over old goods in this town is quite difficult, so with several fairs on in the space of 3 months can make things tricky. I usually enjoy going to these more regional fairs because of the chance of more regional dealers – the ones who can’t make it to the big ones. At this fair, there wasn’t much of that, unfortunately. There was the same dealers who have some nice things, but for some reason, they often take my knowledge of mourning and sentimental jewellery as an indication that inflating the price to around 900% will garner them a sale. Knowledge I have, but silly I’m not; after looking at a 1st quarter 19th century ring for around $800 and a typical pearl-surrounded contemporary brooch for $1500, I started getting nostalgic for eBay. I think that there are some collectors who are drawn to pieces just because they are there, but I don’t see any benefit to throw money mindlessly at things that are over-inflated. In fact, I’ll pay a tidy sum for a piece, but as long as it’s realistic and not insulting. So, dear reader, I’m sorry to say that apart from books on old teapots and cooking for the good Lady K, I have nothing to report! Oh well, there’s a lovely hairwork brooch and earring set I have my eye on, perhaps you’ll see that in a new post on Art of Mourning soon…

Incidents (punches, shoving, kicks from the seniors?)
Happy to say, not a one!

Would I Go Back Next Year?
Absolutely, this is a great little fair and I find it really unpredictable each time.

To Summarise

Geelong Antique Fair 2010

This man attacked me in the carpark

The Geelong Antique Fair is held at the time of year when Melbourne antique fairs should be held. It’s not too far away from the city, so people who live anywhere within an hour or two from Melbourne can attend and not spoil their entire day. If I wasn’t hunting for jewellery I would have been in heaven, as I saw some amazing buys for no money whatsoever – bronzes, furniture, porcelain and a remarkable seller of old militaria (never seen him before, well done!). Those locally reading this have today to get down there and relish the atmosphere and enjoy the fun, so thank you Geelong for a lovely little time and I’ll see you next year!*

*Or until I do another antiquing trip in that region (not very long at all).

On the 6th, 7th and 8th of March of 2010 is the last big antique fair in Ballarat, Australia. No, it’s not the last one that will occur, but it is the largest one left.

Oh Melbourne, what happened? Park Lane Antique Centre used to hold one of the largest antique fairs at the Caulfield Racecourse and the turn-out was always large, the vendors were plentiful, friendly and came from all over Australia. Much of my money took flight at that fair.

There was the Camberwell Antique Fair, which is on again / off again and that was always when the year was winding down from fair season. Not the biggest or the best, but it was the nice refresher to a good season of antique hunting.

Multiple fairs dotted the state with lots of passion from everyone attending. But all of a sudden, it stopped.

Many of the big fairs have migrated north and still maintain a healthy flow of patronage, but here, the last few moved from the city to regional centres. After talking with many of the dealers, it seems that many are winding down and don’t want to participate like  they used to. Others say that Melbourne has a good many visitors who treat it like a museum. The common calls of ‘I used to own something like this’ or ‘they want $100 for a glass? I can get that at Ikea for $2’ do break the heart of the dealer and the serious collector, but I do miss the old days.

By 2000, Park Lane and other antique centres on High Street Malvern started to either cease or change their positioning from antique centres to homewares stores. Malvern Antique Centre, Camberwell Antique Market and the Tyabb are are still going strong, but the life of the big antique centre is swiftly becoming an antique itself. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as you’ll find in another post!

Everyone, go to Ballarat this weekend and have fun!

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