Second of two shipments just landed- Unpacking now

7th October 2015

We have just received the second of the two containers filled during my recent trip to Europe. With Kat managing the shop I was able to slow down a little on July's buying trip. I even took the weekends off!

For starters, in London, I managed to secure an Anton Seuffert wine table, a very special, signed, New Zealand native table, a rare piece of New Zealand art

Then it was off to Bordeaux (we usually buy in Brittany and Normandy) where my agent Greenie has an 18th century summer house at a place called Port Saint Marie. …(which, when he has finished restoring it, you can rent - sleeps about 15). Greenie and I are no good at sitting by the pool, so we sneaked off on trade calls to several dingy warehouses. We purchased several 19th century Bureau Plat and a wonderful Spanish table and chairs (Bordeaux is only 150 km from the Spanish border). With more than a little trepidation we visited some Roma people - Eastern European Travellers who had settled nearby.

Like the tinkers, Roma are often antique dealers. They had some very interesting stock and I purchased several nice confit pots and a stunning 18th century Louis XIV unrestored commode (this commode was much admired by the trade and our shippers as it was transported through France. Following the Bastille Day celebrations at the local village … Greenie and I headed north in the summer heat through Brittany and Normandy (it was 40 to 43 degrees and great weather for loading lorries with furniture, including heavy 18th century chestnut side tables).

In Brittany at 5am the following morning, we left the worst hotel in France to attend a trade fair - the fair at Brittany is a crazy set up where the trade turn up at the race track and unload their stock, only to reload it at 11am, before disappearing for a two hour lunch where they complain about the level off business!I I got grilled up for not picking up my purchases quickly enough, thus compromising the length of their lunch! At the fair we worked at speed, sourcing pieces on quality, colour and style, rather than price. We left the fair happy. I am very lucky to have Greenie to slow me down and stop me buying anything "without its original back etc .. He has a terrific eye for quality and speaks more French than me! Among other things we purchased a stunning 18th century brass lantern, two enfilades (long dresser bases), two period chestnut coffers from the early 1700s and finally, two beautifully shaped Louis XVI bombe commodes.

Buying with Green is interesting as he buys strategically to exhibit at the Battersea Design Fair (which was on last week). He is among the busiest dealers at this leading decorative art and design fair in London ( I will post a photo of his stand). It is where the London designers buy decorative French and Gustavian (Swedish) furniture. The Ralph Lauren girls buy fittings and models for the new stores, the Hollywood dealers come through on the first day to cherry pick the stock. Champagne is served to the waiting queue of clients and everything is very civilized..

The last few days of the trip were spent in Yorkshire buying English stock - wonderful desks, bookcases and coffers and three stunning Georgian cricket tables. We are photographing and posting five new pieces of stock each day so press the all stock button to keep up to date ..

Unsurprisingly, Yorkshire's temperatures were cooler than France's, which was something of a relief. My daughter Charlotte (now in the UK) came up north for the weekend and we sneaked out early to visit Chatsworth; Charlotte tells me it was Mr Darcy's house in Pride and Prejudice when Colin Firth was being Mr Darcy (see photo). Then we headed to Hadden Hall (beautiful) and round the corner to see our new classical light supplier (very exciting) - will keep you posted.

I dropped little Charlotte back in London, where she works close to the All Blacks' World Cup accommodation … Back to NZ to catch those winter chills, before spring arrived along with the first shipment from my trip. The shop is a disaster area with stuff everywhere, but the stock is as good as it's ever been. Stunning upholstered furniture is coming through from the last Swedish/ French shipment (see painted wing chairs). There are some very nice French provincial tables back in from restoration. Weatherby George, our bookcase department, is now booked out for 2105, but Doug is happy to measure and quote for libraries, bookcases, wine cellars and custom mirrors for delivery early 2016.

This is a very long letter, to anyone who is still reading, many thanks.

John

The professor of dance who had the whole village, including me, up dancing on Bastille Day

At Chatsworth with Charlotte

Battersea Fair - London, October 2015

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