Newark - Britain's Largest Antiques Fair
by Terry & Doris Michaud
When we are planning a trip to Britain, it's always a struggle to choose the places we want to see, based on their historic interest as well as the opportunity to add to our antique collection (juvenilia), based on the speciality or generalist antiques dealers in a given area.
The trend in Britain (as it has been for a number of years in the United States) is toward antique malls (or more often referred to as antique centres in Britain) where you can visit multiple stalls ranging from a dozen to 100 or more.
We find these centres to be great hunting grounds for two major reasons; first, the variety of merchandise is generally greater than you would typically find in a single shop. Perhaps just as important is the fact that many of these malls house dealers that are in the business on a part-time basis and have a much lower overhead than a shop keeper would have, thus they are able to work on a smaller margin of profit.
On the down side, the owner is usually not present so you are not able to dicker with him or her directly, which may limit your discount to the typical 10% referred to as a "dealer discount."
Since an antique centre gives you the chance to shop multiple dealers, antique fairs take that to the next level, providing you with stalls representing many more dealers than you would find at an antique centre. Indeed, some antique fairs will feature several hundred dealers at one show, and these dealers are also part-timers, for the most part, earning extra income by doing a circuit of antique fairs.
Before finalizing plans to visit a particular area, we will usually contact the tourist bureau to find out if there are any antique fairs scheduled and obtain dates. If our trip plans are flexible, this may give us the opportunity to change our plans by a week or so to be there at the same time their antique fair is taking place.
NEWARK ANTIQUE FAIR
While we typically schedule a visit to a given area based on the factors we previously discussed, there is one antique fair that is so monumental as to be a destination in itself. It is the Newark Antique Fair, held 6 times a year.
This mind-boggling antique market has in excess of 2500 stalls at any given show! Yes, you read that right - over 2500 dealers in antiques and collectables offering a huge variety of furniture, architectural pieces, porcelain, pottery, silver, jewellery, paintings, books, maps, prints, toys, and you name it. If you collect it, chances are someone at Newark will have it for sale.
The fair is owned by International Antiques & Collectors Fairs Ltd. (IACF), and while they also own antique and collectable fairs throughout Britain, this is unquestionably the jewel in their crown of shows.
The Newark Fair is a two day fair, open Thursday and Friday. Professional trade and private buyers welcome on both days.
The showground is located just 10 minutes from the historic market town of Newark in north-central England, and 40 minutes from the city of Nottingham. Local accommodation can be found here.
Because the show draws such huge crowds, sponsors have made every effort to provide excellent facilities, including free car parking, restaurant and bar, mobile catering, bureau de change, information centres, attended toilet and shower facilities, and an International Buyers Lounge with a computer, printer and internet. There are also international shipping companies on hand to arrange for transporting your purchases. Please contact IACF in advance for details.
The Newark show opens on Thursday at 09:00 AM, and the admission fee covers entry for both days. The show opens at 8 AM on Friday and admission for the second day only is discounted.
The Newark Antiques Fair is such an incredible event that a number of tour groups arrange tours to the fair. Some of these tours cover attendance at the Newark show only, while others provide added opportunities to visit places of historical interest.
Our tour company (Keystone Traders Ltd.) is planning to take a tour group to the Newark Show in August, with visits to other locations as well. You can write to us for information (505 W. Broad St. Chesaning, Mi. 48616)
Readers wishing to get details on the Newark Antiques Fair and other fairs owned by IACF can visit their website at www.iacf.co.uk.
While Britain offers a wide choice to visitors looking for transportation, car hire (renting a car) offers the most benefits for seeing the country. Driving on the left side may seem a bit daunting, but with a little care and caution, it gives you the most freedom to come and go as you please.
We simply put a note on the dashboard that said THINK LEFT and paid attention to the traffic ahead of us, and we managed quite well. If you feel this would be just too intimidating, you can get almost anywhere in England by bus or by train. In fact, you can obtain a pass for Britrail that allows you to go everywhere. Note that you must arrange for these passes in advance before you leave the U.S. to obtain the best rate. Aside from an infrequent strike by rail workers (usually announced in advance) the British Rail system is excellent.
Britain for Collectors is written by Terry & Doris Michaud, internationally known in the world of teddy bear collectors. They have authored 5 books on collecting and regularly write features for magazines in the U.S. and abroad. In a partnership with Bill & Rosemary Hayes, they conduct annual collector's tours to Great Britain.