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Newsletters

  • May 2017

    In Britain, the media are getting very excited about the forthcoming General Election, but I am not sure that the ‘man in the street’ quite shares their excitement. There is a good deal of apathy. Most people are bored by the platitudes and broken promises,...

  • July 2016

    To say that we are, and have been for the past few weeks, in a period of political and economic uncertainty is a massive understatement. Britain voting to leave the EU was unexpected, at least by 'the Establishment', and has thrown world financiers and our...

  • September 2015

    Butler's Antiques Newsletter September 2015 No. 61 I apologise to anyone who has tried and failed to communicate with me since my last newsletter. My Apple desktop computer failed and it took Apple all of three weeks to repair it. Such a failure is very...

  • August 2015

    A New Invention that works! My antique wine accessories are all inventions of the past and have survived because they were, and still are, successful. For example, the Georgian decanter has never been improved as an elegant means of displaying wine and, of ridding it...

  • July 2015

    I doubt it has escaped your notice that world currency exchange rates have varied quite considerably in recent months, particularly vis-a-vis the pound. As an exporter, that worries me. British prices are beginning to look expensive to those living in other countries. Last September, £100...

  • June 2015

    2015 seems to be a year of many celebrations for the British people. Recently there was the 70th anniversary of VE day, and this week, the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo - all...

  • February 2015

    I remember when I was really quite young, that my father liked his glass of sherry before dinner each evening. Sherry was very popular in the 1950s and 60s, and it appears to be having a revival - and not before time in my opinion....

  • January 2015

    Looking back, 2014 was not as gloomy for the antiques trade as some may have thought at the time; there were significant periods when we bought and sold well - particularly towards the end of the year. Those occasions boosted the turnover and I felt...

  • October 2014

    I love asking myself questions - and then trying to find the answers. Here is one I asked a few years ago, but it was not so much the answers which fascinated me; it was more the consequences of those answers. So here is the...

  • April 2014

    A Funny Thing happened on the way to the Auction My theme this month is amusements that I occasionally encounter in my day-to-day business. As I started this morning's work, I opened an auctioneer's catalogue of antique and modern sIlver to be sold in a few...

  • March 2014

    Spring is in the air; the wet winter is a distant memory! Nature has treated us to early flowers and trees blossoming everywhere. It is even warm enough to walk the dog without extra layers of clothing. Utter joy! On the business side, we are developing...

  • January 2014

    By the time you read this I hope we will all have had a very happy Christmas and it remains for me to wish everyone all they could wish for themselves in 2014. Early in January we will be moving home for the second time...

  • November/December 2013

    For the past week or two, nearly every BBC news bulletin has mentioned seasonal shopping trends and how Internet shopping is taking an ever-larger slice of the Christmas ‘cake’. It certainly underlines my decision when 10 years ago, I ceased dealing in Georgian furniture, silver...

  • October 2013

    Christmas and Thanksgiving will soon be upon us - or perhaps that is a little 'forceful', but at least should we start thinking about what we will be doing, where, with whom and what gifts they may like to receive. What we would hope for...

  • September 2013

    I don’t suppose I am alone among my readers when I write that I use a corkscrew more than once a week. The history of the corkscrew is an interesting one and the number of patents and registrations, both in this country (the UK) and...

  • May 2013

    Andrew Lamberty is a young and well-educated antiques dealer whom I had not come across until November last year. He called me, having discovered my website, to say that he wanted to buy an 18th century partly gilded magnum decanter and that “would I mind...

  • April 2013

    Earlier this week, I heard on the BBC news that Debenhams, a well-known British store chain, more famous for selling clothes and kitchen equipment, had announced that sales of decanters had risen by 40% in the last quarter. We too are experiencing an increasing interest...

  • March 2013

    Just recently a valued customer from the other side of the planet, wanted to know more about something I had in stock. However, he felt that the images were not quite sufficient to tell him all he wanted to know, as it was a three-dimensional...

  • February 2013

    It is my business to try to cater for the needs and preferences of a broad cross section of wine drinkers and collectors, so while I may have personal preferences, it is my job to put my foibles to one side. Nevertheless I have to...

  • January 2013

    January has always been the donkey’s tail in the calendar of sales of antiques. Traditionally we have always put it down to the fact that ‘post-Christmas blues’ and taxes have caused the antiques-buying public to ‘pull in their horns’; not this year it seems! While...

  • November 2012

    It is a commonly held belief that anything silver-plated on copper is 'Sheffield plate'. Actually, It isn't. Indeed, I'd almost go as far as to say that most items silver plated on copper are not Sheffield plate, but electroplated. Let me explain the difference for...

  • October 2012

    September was a good month for Butler’s Antiques. I bought some wonderful decanters, but I also commissioned something else about which I am really quite excited! Put simply, I had a ‘eureka’ moment which has involved me quite deeply and it is all ‘coming together’....

  • August 2012

    I am constantly surprising myself by finding things I have never seen before within my very specialised niche market of antique wine accessories. Currently on my ‘Pick of the Month’, I have a pair of coasters which are of sufficient diameter to take magnum decanters,...

  • July 2012

    In recent months there has been much talk of investment in wine - and how those who thought they were buying first growth Bordeaux were being duped (scammed, or whatever the modern word is for being taken in by skulduggery). Nevertheless, bought from a reputable...

  • June 2012

    In my May newsletter, I announced in respect of my business, that ‘an important development had occurred’. I can now reveal it. I am delighted that I was asked if I would collaborate with someone who is probably better known in the world of wine...

  • May 2012

    Some antiques are hard to find, either because few were originally made, or that they have been avidly snapped up by the collecting fraternity. Some fall into both categories. An example is what is commonly called a 'ship's decanter. While ordinary decanters are collected by...

  • April 2012

    "Going for gold" is an expression many in Britain have heard quite frequently in recent weeks and months, as we seem poised to go for as much of the bullion as we can. Our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee followed by the Olympic Games are two major...

  • March 2012

    "There shall be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm, and one measure of ale and one measure of corn, namely, the London quart." This is a rough transcription of clause 35 from Magna Carta of 1215, put before King John by the Barons...

  • One of a Pair of Decanters with Tasting Stoppers

    February 2012

    One of the great pleasures of being a dealer in antiques is that I am able to spend money on things I really like - and continue doing so when I have sold them. I have been most fortunate in the past couple of weeks...

  • Gin Lane

    January 2012 - High Spirits

    There are many in Scotland who would prefer independence from the rest of Britain - a situation which has probably changed little since the Act of Union in 1707. The difference between the past and now, is that the Scottish National Party have a majority...

  • April 2014

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Auction... My theme this month is amusements that I occasionally encounter in my day-to-day business. As I started this morning's work, I opened an auctioneer's catalogue of antique and modern sIlver to be sold in a...

  • December 2011

    The debate about whether or not decanting improves wine is one that re-emerges at regular intervals in columns of the wine press. The general consensus of those ‘in the know’, is that it does, and that opinion is growing. There seems almost unanimous opinion that...

  • Christmas 2011

    The world of antiques is very well served by a weekly newspaper, The Antiques Trade Gazette, which caters for auctioneers, dealers, collectors and academics - indeed anyone who has an interest in what the world of old-fashioned things is doing. Whether it is the current...

  • November 2011

    One of the leading lights in the world of spirits is a good friend - John Barrett. About 30 years ago, I had a lunch-time conversation with him when his business was called The Bristol Brandy Company. He was, and still is, a leading connoisseur...

  • Fake cast 'hallmarks for 1752

    October 2011

    For a good many years I performed valuations of antiques - several hundred in fact. Then my business emigrated from Georgian furniture, clocks, and silver, and edged towards wine-related accessories. Of course, keeping my finger on the pulse of current prices outside the wine accessory...

  • September 2011

    Before I turn to the main points of my newsletter, I would like to congratulate John Banner on being the first person to send me a correct set of answers to my Summer Quiz. He was not the first to send in answers, but his...

  • August 2011

    As promised, here is my report on the season’s three London antiques fairs. My report is brief as I have other things to tell you about this month. Olympia, with wider aisles, up-graded stands and first-floor gallery abandoned, was a welcome improvement. At last the organisers...

  • July 2011

    There has been a major development in the antiques world since I last wrote to you. There are three British multinational auction houses, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonham’s. Back in the 1970s, the finance directors of the first two, realised that in the great market boom...

  • June 2011

    As I write this, the London antiques fair season is almost upon us. This year will provide simpler options than in previous years, with just three principal antiques fairs. First, there is the mass-market traditional fare on offer at Olympia, then the more erudite collector...

  • May 2011

    Occasionally I write a piece for a newsletter and then, at the last moment something occurs that I feel must take precedence. So I usually put it aside in the hope the subject becomes relevant at some later date – and it is surprising how...

  • 1 April

    As promised in my last newsletter, I am reporting on the first high-quality antiques fair of the season. There are hundreds of so-called antiques fairs, but few which really do justice to the expression. The British Antique Dealers’ Association is the premier dealers’ organisation, and...

  • March 2011

    I am frequently asked about the care of decanters - how to keep them bright and clear, what to do if they are not, can they be repaired if damaged, and so on. Despite what some may think, in many cases glass can be restored...

  • Late March 2011

    There is an old saying that you can wait an hour for a London bus to arrive - then three will arrive together. So it can be with antiques. One doesn’t see a particular category of antique for a long time, then without warning several...

  • February 2011

    I am sure it will not surprise anyone to hear that there is an excellent weekly newspaper for the antiques trade, and it is entitled ‘The Antiques Trade Gazette’. It has been running continuously now for nearly 2,000 editions, and is highly respected by museum...

  • January 2011

    I would like to start by wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. With political pundits peddling doom and gloom for2011, I would like my website to be thought of as a beacon of light, good cheer and happiness! As I write...

  • December 2010

    I am often asked about the pricing of antiques, and following the recent sale in a minor English auction house of a Chinese vase for over £50,000,000* (about $78m.), this general subject has been the focus of much discussion. It is perhaps understandable that the...

  • A goblet (left) and wine glass, both c.1760 - 70

    November 2010

    Wine whets the wit, improves its nature’s force and adds a pleasant flavour to discourse I have had a small early 19th century wine glass for many years with the above inscription engraved with a diamond, in a very amateur hand - presumably using a...

  • A £24,000 bottle!

    October 2010

    In my chosen niche market of antique wine accessories, there are a few concepts which amuse or bemuse me in equal measure. For example why should a finely crafted early 18th century decanter be worth, say £800, while a roughly-made utilitarian bottle of the same...

  • September 2010

    First, I have to admit to an error in my last newsletter, pointed out to me by a Master of Wine who is also an eminent journalist. I apologise because I mentioned ‘British’ wine. Horror of horrors! British wine is manufactured from imported grape juice...

  • August 2010

    Wine has been with mankind for centuries, millennia indeed, but there is one wine which is a relatively modern invention; it is also one of the world’s great favourites. I refer, of course, to champagne, and if ever there was a season for champagne (and...

  • The June Antiques Season

    In June, the world and his wife come to London for its fashion, exhibitions, Wimbledon - and its antiques fairs. Among the various and usual eye-watering attractions expected in the London Season, this year there was something new and utterly spectacular to think and talk...

  • Fresh and Exciting News of London Summer Fairs

    About 10 months ago we heard that Marriott Hotels were 'axing' the doyen of all antiques fairs - the Grosvenor House Fair, which had been running since 1934. At first there was much dismay as it had been the premier antiques fair internationally, although Maastricht...

  • April 5th Antiques are Green

    The waking up to reality, or scare (whichever view to which you subscribe) of global warming is an important issue with 'Green Parties' playing a burgeoning part in international politics. And they have done so for the past decade. The world of antiques can be slow...