Retail-related objects and furniture in fair foyer

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair – the first major antiques and interiors event of the year – will showcase in the Foyer a display of antique and 20th century retail-related objects and furniture. These highly decorative and useful designs have long been a staple of the stock sold at the Fair.

An antique oak haberdashery cabinet

Retail promotion and design has been around for a very long time. From the Middle Ages when shops and inns needed a pictorial symbol outside to indicate their business or stock-in-trade (at a time when most people weren’t able to read lettering), to the rise of the merchant classes in the Georgian period and a proliferation of specialist suppliers, signage was essential if you wanted folk to find you, attractive window displays were devised to entice the customers in, and of course pleasing interiors were needed if you wanted to keep them in your shop and encourage sales.

Once mass-production arrived with Victorian mechanisation, packaging, labels, branding and logos, as well as advertising, became readily recognisable features in everyday life. Everything was carefully designed to tempt the buyer and elevate the quotidian business of marketing (literally, going to market to buy the daily supplies) or making more discretionary purchases such as perfumes, fashions or furniture. By the early 20th century, shop windows and entrances took on greater prominence, and ever more inventive window decorations became the norm: the arrival of Selfridges department store in London in 1909 probably kickstarted the sophisticated art of window dressing as we recognise it today in the UK.

Many dealers at The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair enjoy searching out antique and vintage examples of retail designs, as they are often colourful, creative and historic objects that can cheerfully decorate a home. Ironically, whilst it was Napoleon who described the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, there is often a strong supply of French retail signs and fittings at the Fair.

An antique shop sign

Among retail related stock one might to find for sale at The Decorative Fair are:
Trade and shop signs – crafted in metal or carved and painted on board
Shop front signage – shop names, notice boards, decorated exterior lanterns and interior lamps
Window dressing accessories – from hat stands and glove holders to dairy bowls and other product props
Product display units – counter top holders for haberdashers silks, confit pots and biscuit barrels; patisserie tables; grocery counters (great today for free-standing kitchens); glass-fronted drawers for scarves or ties
Storage for display – cabinets for paint samples or glass jars for pigments, snuff and tobacco containers and
labelled apothecary jars for drugs and potions
Product packaging – hat boxes, toys in original boxes, jars for potted meats and cheeses, pickle jars
Branding & advertising – objects decorated with retail names and specialisations
Exhibitors at the Winter Fair who regularly stock such items include Dee Zammit (furniture and lighting),
David Levi (folk art), D J Green Antiques (furniture), The Home Bothy (folk art), Hatchwell Antiques (weights
and measures, furniture), Christopher-Hall Antiques (furniture), and Interior Boutiques.

A stand at The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair

Around 130 dealers will gather in Battersea Park, London, from January 24-29 coming from across the UK for their first large major Fair of the year. New exhibitors being welcomed include Jacksons Antique (decorative, Asian art and objects from around the world), and the Fair is delighted to welcome back Anthony Fell, William Cook Antiques and Hansord (all specialists in fine antique furniture), and also Westland London (antique fireplaces, fine furniture and objects), Peter Last Ltd (antique frames) and Vistavka Fine Art who were new at the Autumn event. Upstairs on the Mezzanine will be LARTA, the London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair with 15 specialist textile and carpet dealers.

The Decorative Fair has been running since 1985, and three times a year it continues to inspire and delight visitors with the variety of stock for sale, whether design buyers, collectors or customers simply looking for an unusual furnishing piece for their home or garden.