July 2016 newsletter
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 politicians into a spin (in the old sense of the phrase). Their reactions and that of some journalists have fuelled even more concern - even causing a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Many of those dire warnings on 'Brexit' were more based on personal political bias, rather than on sound financial judgement of the facts. But need we have worried? Like many who export antiques, I see the future as very bright. The cost of our antiques to those in Australia and America is considerably less now than it was before the referendum, and those in Britain who invested either directly, or indirectly through pension funds, have seen the FT index rise well above its previous levels.
The 'austerity measures' suffered by the British people over the past several years, have hurt many businesses. When we visited a large antiques fair last week, it was noticeable how fewer exhibitors there were - one end of the hall, accounting for as much as 30% of the available space, was discretely screened off. But that was only one side of the picture; the other half being that there was plenty of business going on and we emerged with a few choice items that we were delighted to have bought.
One of them was a delightful rich ruby-red decanter Read more here which, apart from being a jolly way to serve red wine, may also make an excellent ruby wedding present! To see the decanter, click here
A Scarce Ruby-Red Decanter of c.1840
Another piece I found, was a silver wine label click here of crescent shape - a form popular from about 1750, although this one is probably 10 - 30 years later. I say probably, because it was never marked, either by the maker, nor by an assay office, but most wine labels did not have to be hallmarked because they fell below the threshold of compulsory marking for small objects of silver. The threshold was lowered from 10 pennyweight (half an ounce) to 5 dwt. in 1784, but was not widely practiced until 1790, so most wine labels before 1790 have no hallmarks. However, what drew me to this particular label as its pierced legend - RHENISH.
A Rare Crescent Wine Label for Rhenish, c.1770
I remember my father saying how he liked rhenish wines, but he was rather old-fashioned with his appetite for 'medium' (today we would say sweet) sherry and German wines which were traditionally off-dry. In the 'Concise Encyclopædia (sic) of Gastronomy (section VIII)', Andre Simon described Rhenish as "The name by which the wines of the Rhine were known in England from a very early date down to the eighteenth century, when they began to be called Hocks." He then continued to mention four quotations from William Shakespeare (from Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice) in which 'Rhenish' occurs. Wine labels for rhenish are quite scarce and mine is a good example.Some Brexit Bargains!
I started this newsletter on the subject of the British referendum, and the negativity of those who foresaw a different outcome. Despite my feeling that the business outlook is good, the 'Remainers' have unduly influenced the economic mood. So to kick-start a better second half of the year and on the basis that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going", I am taking some bold steps. For readers in the US, and Australia, I am setting my exchange rates at even lower levels to favour, all those in the English-speaking world outside the UK. The prices will no longer include shipping, but I am reducing prices on my website which will more than outweigh the shipping costs.
These reductions will not last indefinitely, and as soon as I feel able, I will revert to the previous modus operandi, so I would urge you to 'make hay while the sun shines' if you are interested in anything in particular. Also, the reductions are not 'across the board'; I will be selective and will target the higher-priced merchandise although other items may well be included. As an example, the splendid set of four Georgian decanters in a pair of decanter trolleys (5221) will be reduced from £8,600 to £5,200
A Very Rare set of 4 Decanters and Pair of Trolleys . c.1820
- a nearly 40% reduction, while two sets of wine labels (5223) and (4046) are cut by about 25%.
A Set of 4 Collar Wine Labels by Phipps & Robinson, 1800
But there is much more, so please have look to see if your favourite items have 'had the chop'! Even if they haven't, it may be worth asking me by e.mail if I can help with the object(s) of your choice. I'll do so where I can.