SA's Only Antiques, Collectables And Decorative Arts Magazine
Collecting Maps

mapThe collecting of maps, prints and documents goes hand in hand with history and South Africa offers rich pickings in this area of collecting. Zulu war scenes and Anglo-Boer war battles in handcoloured prints are sought after not only locally but internationally as well and sell well. Maps are also a good investment and specialiast dealers in maps are usually experts in their field and offer a wealth of expertise for an aspiring collector.

A selection of rare maps will be on show and can be purchased at the National Antique Faire this year in the Book dealers section, some of which are over 300 years old and depict Southern Africa populated by the likes of Indian elephants, the Indian Rhinoceros and even tigers. You might pick up a John Speed map from 1625 that is profusely illustrated along the margins. These decorative maps are the most sought after, such as the Blaeu map on which a vignette depicts a man eating entrails. This will appeal to many collectors of maps who appreciate the narratives of how explorers saw South Africa all those centuries ago. But what is really extraordinary is how a piece of paper can last for centuries. This is, of course, because the map was originally from an atlas or travel book, and therefore found protection between its covers. No doubt, several generations of previous owners kept the atlas away from damp and ravenous insects.

From Russia With Love

The story of Fabergé is inextricably linked to the lives, loves and tragedy of the last Romanov Tsar Nicholas II and his Empress Alexandra, and to the Russian Revolution that changed the course of world history.

Peter Carl Fabergé, legendary artist-jeweller, goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court, was the creative and entrepreneurial genius behind the world-renowned company. Born in 1846, and apprenticed as a boy to his goldsmith father, Gustav Fabergé, a modest jeweller of French Huguenot ancestry, Fabergé joined his father’s business around 1860. By the time he was 24, he had taken over control of all aspects of his fa¬ther’s business. Like many of these firms, Fabergé sold items to the Imperial Court of Russia. How¬ever, the younger Fabergé soon set the family business apart. Gradually, Fabergé emerged as the most fashionable jeweller in Russia, thanks to a fateful commission in 1885.

South Africa's Heritage Gems

gemsOnce upon a time, stately homes & buildings were the exclusive privilege of royalty and landed gentry. Today some are used by corporates, rented out for commercial use and some are still lived in by the original owners – each with a unique mix of history, architecture and modern-day glamour. Heritage properties represent a masterpiece of human creative genius. Focusing on Cape Town, Durban & Gauteng you’re spoilt for choice to visit these landmarks, study the architecture or simply to admire their grandeur.

CAPE TOWN: As the oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town boasts a number of important historical buildings, many of which are still in use today and open to visitors. The city’s architecture is a testament to the many and varied influences on South Africa’s unique history and a dream for any architecture enthusiasts! Here is our list of favourites – enjoy!


marilynSome like it Marilyn

Long after her death, the legacy of Marilyn Monroe is stronger than ever. I am left wondering what she would think of the record prices her memorabilia has been getting especially when one considers she passed away with less than $2000 to her name. The fascination for all that is Marilyn has never waned and indeed with the latest movie “My week with Marilyn” creating a huge hype around her once again, one is left wondering what other stories are still out there begging to be told. 

Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white “Seven Year Itch “ dress sold for more than $5.6 million and another $2.7 million for three other Monroe movie outfits. Some of her dresses were from the collection of 79 year old entertainer Debbie Reynolds, who was going to open a museum with her collection of roughly 3500 costumes from different movies that the movie studios at the time were throwing out. Due to maintenance costs she decided to sell the collection off. After 20 minutes of bidding on the ‘subway’ dress Debbie Reynolds was in tears when the gavel hit the podium ending the auction - this after an expected price of $2 Million. The redsequined showgirl gown and a feathered hat Monroe wore in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” sold for $1.47 million. The expected price was $300,000. Monroe’s costumes from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “River of No Return” brought another $1.2 million.

Collecting Antique Tools

toolsA Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Antique Tools

Tools are the father of all other antiques. Master paintings, the great statues, the finest pottery, the most decorative furniture, the most colorful tapestries -- all of these would have been nothing more than someone’s momentary idea without the tools needed to create them. Every manmade object depends on the use of tools for its existence, and mankind’s greatest creativity and intelligence is reserved for the creation of newer and better mousetraps to solve the production problems of the day. Tools were the first expression of human cognition.

Collecting antique tools is a little like learning chess -- at first it is a bit confusing as the wide assortment of tools presents itself, then with a small amount of experience you gain confidence in your ability to make the right moves and collect interesting pieces, and as you become more and more the “experienced collector” you begin to realize that there is an ever richer and increasingly interesting realm of knowledge and speciality waiting to be discovered.

Tamara De Lempicka

tamaraWhen someone mentions the Roaring Twenties, it conjures up the Jazz Age, flappers, Prohibition, the Charleston, gangsters, The Great Gatsby, Mary Pickford, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Designers and architects also remember the 20’s for the Chrysler Building, the luxury liner Normandie, and the interior of Radio City Music Hall, all outstanding examples of the decorative arts style called Art Deco. To many designers of jewelry, furniture, clothes, fabrics, and ceramics, Art Deco of the 20’s with its geometric motifs and bright, bold colors represents the best and purest forms of that decorative art period. Art Deco, a classical, symmetrical, rectilinear style that reached its high point between 1925- 1935, drew its inspiration from such serious art movements as Cubism, Futurism, and the influence of the Bauhaus. In Paris, it was a dominant art form of the 1920-1930 period. Of all the artists pursuing the style “Arts Decoratifs”, one of the most memorable was Tamara de Lempicka. Born Maria Gorska, originally from Warsaw, Poland, she was most popular during the 1920’s & 30’s, painting mostly portraits and still lifes.


luciteOf the many passing fancies exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair, one has proven its staying power: the acrylic resin known by the trade names Lucite and Plexiglas.
These materials were first developed in the early 1930s, by DuPont (Lucite) and Rohm & Haas (Plexiglas). Crystal clear, easily shaped and strong. Today as it did in its heyday, Lucite adds modern chic to any room.

Marlene Dietrich

MarleneWith her sultry glamour and sex appeal, Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer who broke all the rules in her long career by continually re-inventing herself both professionally and personally. At a time when women were portrayed as the weaker sex and needy, Marlene, whether on screen or in cabaret exuded sex appeal, confidence and sophistication. Her sexuality was tangible and often shocking and she was both audacious and witty.

Known best as the cabaret entertainer of Weimar-era Germany, Dietrich was personified as Lola-Lola, the seductive cabaret singer in top hat and silk stockings whom she portrayed in ‘The Blue Angel’. Both on stage and in her private life, Marlene showed herself as a liberated woman of the world who earned her own living, chose her own men and whose sexuality was palpable.



“I like his work so much, I find him daring and antiestablishment. Anyone who said that he wasn’t a great artist can now see that he was”.
Mariame Fassler


When I heard that renowned fashion designer Marianne Fassler was the brainchild behind the Tretchikoff Exhibition in Cape Town I made sure I was one of the lucky ones to be at the opening night of this historic event.

Cape Town was abuzz with the ‘kitch’ fever of Tretchikoff (1913 – 2006) at the opening of the first ever complete exhibition at the Iziko National Art Museum. People had flown in from far and wide and it made one once again feel proud of being South African. I had not been to the National Art Museum in many years and forgotten the splendor of the architecture and the sheer beauty of the museum.

Walking through the double doors into the exhibition space, I was pleasantly surprised at the extensive collection of Tretchikoff paintings on show and I, like many people who attended, felt that, whether a fan or not of his works – one simply could but appreciate this superb collection of his works. Many people, I’m sure, questioned why he was the artist people ‘loved to hate’ and many more, I’m sure, wished they had some of his works in their own collections.


epergnesThe word epergne is taken from the French epargne, meaning economy, and originally bore the more anglicized spelling aparn. The English epergne economizes in two ways. First, in the saving of precious space: The prevailing custom of service at the time required that much of the food be put on the table at once. Guests entering the dining room found the food in place, usually in covered entrée dishes (the dishes sometimes made with a hot water chamber), one or two kinds of fish, and one or two soup tureens. Further, around 1760 it became fashionable for the host to carve the bird or joint of meat at the table. The second way in which the epergne economized is that it made for the thrifty use of rare nuts, fruits, condiments, and other luxuries from the tropics or the East. Guests would serve themselves from the epergne, and delicacies that were not eaten were left on the centerpieces, rather than being wasted when the plates were cleared.

EPERGNES are often ornate tiered centerpiece consisting typically of a frame of wrought metal (as silver or gold) bearing dishes, vases, or candle holders or a combination of these. An epergne is a large table centerpiece consisting of a frame with extended arms or branches supporting holders, as for flowers, fruit, or sweetmeats. It may also be used as a designer object to hold candles, flowers or ornaments for a holiday etc.


spierFrom the farm’s public spaces to displays in the Manor House, Hotel and wine tasting centre, art is as much part of Spier as good food and fine wine. The work is rotated every year to give exposure to as many artists as possible, and to keep the spaces fresh for staff and visitors.

Rather than just buying art to decorate its buildings, Spier strives to find ways to support and stimulate the arts community in SA, supporting projects that acknowledge our African arts heritage, protect its legacy and contribute to its future. With this goal, Spier has established a number of initiatives that have greatly impacted both the performing and visual arts in South Africa since 1996.

For their sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa, Spier was awarded the Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Chairman’s Premier Award in 2014. This award is made at the discretion of the BASA Chairman, and only during years when nominees are deemed exceptional.



French born René Lalique born in 1860, started out as a jewellery apprentice before studying in London and then working for the houses of Aucoc, Cartier, Boucheron and others before establishing his own art studio. He became one of France’s foremost Art Nouveau designers and ended up as one of the most famous glass designers of the Art Deco period. He is best known for his designs for perfume bottles vases, jewellery, figurines, chandeliers, clocks and in his later years for his iconic car mascots.


mintonIt is easy to understand why Queen Victoria found Minton porcelain so appealing and collectable. England was already the world’s premier pottery manufacturing country in 1793 when Thomas Minton opened his company in Stoke-on-Trent. By the middle of the 19th Century, it was finely crafted and lavishly decorated in a mix of many periods--Neoclassic, Renaissance, Gothic revival and contemporary French among them. Seascapes and landscapes, flowers and birds, reclining figures and Oriental motifs had all found their way into thousands of patterns in numerous shapes and styles.

Minton, a trained artist, engraver and designer, used his skills to create bone china in 1799. He popularized the famous so-called Willow pattern. In the 1820s he started production of bone china; this early Minton is regarded as comparable to French Sèvres, by which it was greatly influenced.

The reproduction of cream coloured pottery and white bone china began in 1798, and a knowledge of the shapes and designs is essential as Minton refused to mark his wares at this time. During the mid 1820s the company began to introduce a series of finely – modelled figures in bone china that featured royal, theatrical, political and historical subjects. Other figures were produced in the manner of the 18th century Chelsea and Meissen porcelain, and they similarly benefit from first-class modelling and highly-detailed colourful costumes. The factory also produced figures in white biscuit bone china (unglazed bone china) to commemorate topical personalities of the age, such as William Wilberforce and Hannah More, the great antislavery and social reformers.

Salvador Dali

• He was a skilled draftsman
• His best known work is The Persistence of Memory – completed in 1931
• He attributed his love to everything that is gilded and excessive, his passion for luxury and his love for oriental clothes
• He had an older brother also named Salvador
• His father was a lawyer
• His sister Ana Maria published a book about her brother “Dali as seen by his sister”
• Dali’s father first organized in 1916 an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home
• His first public exhibition was held in 1919 at the Municipal Theatre in Figurees
• One of the greatest surrealists of our time, best known for his ability to translate dreams into artwork, “hand painted dream photographs” he called them. He was also a sculptor, filmmaker, writer and insane or just wanted people to believe that he was insane.


local1South Africa, with its English, Dutch, French and German heritage, has a wealth of antiques and collectables that have been handed down from generation to generation and have become highly sought after by collectors. - From the local craftsmen who created local furniture that could be easily transported during the ‘great trek’, - To the French Huguenots and German settlers who brought their own craftsmanship. - From the early Dutch settlers who brought down furniture from their native Holland, - To the many commemorative items commissioned by the English Queen such as Royal Doulton’s Loving Cup or Boer War memorabilia to commemorate colonial events .... South African antiques offer a rich tapestry of collecting intrigue.

Investment Furniture

furnitureaug15aBurr walnut furniture has been admired for centuries, thanks to its rich, intricately figured pattern. These are created by irregular growths on the trunk or branches that they are cut from. This growth forms only a small part of the tree, therefore only a specific part of the tree can be used in the creation of burr pieces. This ensures that each burr veneer is highly valuable, desirable and absolutely unique.

Due to the limited size of each burr, the real skill is in matching individual pieces together to make them suitable for larger furniture items. This naturally lends an air of exclusivity to the material, with antique pieces fetching huge price tags. In 2010, the Antiques Trade Gazette reported that a burr walnut writing desk was sold at auction, commanding a final, incredible bid of £80,000, marking a record for that day.

Winnie The Pooh

poohpigletThe name of Ernest Howard Shepard is inseparable from the wonderful characters he created. For A A Milne’s 1926 publication of Winnie-the-Pooh, his illustrations of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore captured the imaginations of both children and the adults who read the stories to them. They are intrinsically linked with his illustrations and he is just as fondly remembered for the liveliness of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger in Kenneth Grahame’s tale of The Wind in the Willows.

Shepard was born in St John’s Wood in London on 10 December 1879; his father was an architect and his maternal grandfather, William Lee RA, a watercolour painter. The young Ernest showed some promise in drawing while at St Paul’s School and was a cheerful boy who was fond of pranks, earn- ing himself the lifelong nickname ‘Kipper’, from the popular slang of the time ‘giddy kipper’. He pursued his artistic studies at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools. This is where he met his first wife, Florence Eleanor Chaplin. They moved to Shamley Green in Guildford, Surrey, in 1904, where he continued developing his career as an illustrator and cartoonist, producing works for editions of Aesop’s Fables, David Copperfield and Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas1Thomas Gainsborough, born 14th May 1727, was a famous 18th Century English painter known for his evocative portraiture and landscapes and is most famous for his portrait known as ‘The Blue Boy’.

EARLY LIFE Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. His father was a weaver involved with the wool trade. Thomas Gainsborough was one of nine children born to John Gainsborough. Perhaps due to his mother’s penchant for painting flowers and encouraging her son’s talent with a pencil, Gainsborough assembled a rather impressive portfolio at a young age. By 10, he had drawn some local village landscapes, and added caricatures and other facial studies. His father was sufficiently impressed with his work to allow him to go to London, England, where he studied at an academy in St. Martin’s Lane under the renowned William Hogarth and other masters known for etching, historical painting and portraiture.


chair“A chair can even be used for sitting on, but with just one condition: that we be uncomfortably seated” - Salvador Dalí

Clyde Terry of The Collector writes that every home should have a collector’s chair. “There is no reason why you should not have an iconic designer chair in your home. There is not one single piece of antique furniture that says as much about the home owner as a chair. In the world of interiors a great chair or set of chairs definitely makes a statement in any room of the house and reflects the style and warmth of any family.

Chairs are as old as history but significant and stately chairs have been around since the Egyptians probably had Cleopatra lying on a chaise-lounge, the Romans had Nero entertaining his subjects with his fiddle in a stately chair, the Greeks’ Plato addressing the crowds from a regal chair and the Chinese emperors carried around in ornate chairs. Every era has its own unique designs that seem to have been copied for many generations.

Volkstedt Porcelain

VolkstedtThe past two hundred and fifty one years have seen several kilns, of various porcelain manufactures and studios, fire under the sky of Volkstedt, (a satellite village to Rudolstadt, situated in Thu?ringen, Germany). But only one is the true Volkstedt Porcelain Company and that is: Aelteste Volkstedter Porzellanmanufaktur, translated – The Oldest Volkstedt Porcelain Manufacturer.

This company has produced luxury hard-paste porcelain since 1762. Confusion reigns as to the exact chronological history and, in particular, its origin or should I rather say ‘inception’. A medley of finely sculptured and exquisitely hand painted; figurines, candelabras, fruit bowls, candlesticks, vases, comports, nut dishes and urns is the signature tune of this world-renowned porcelain. Be it in the style Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassic, Art Nouveau to Art Deco or Contemporary each piece pampers the eye with prestige and prettiness. Over the years it has been highly prized and feverishly sought.

The Amazing Grace Kelly

graceWith the popularity of our Collector issues that featured style icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, we thought we would bring you the elegant Grace Kelly – not only because of her Hollywood pedigree and her many charitable foundations, but also because of the many jewels she collected and was given as the Princess of Monaco and the memorabilia of her that has become so collectable.

“My father had a very simple view of life: you don’t get anything for nothing. Everything has to be earned, through work, persistence and honesty. My father also had a deep charm, the gift of winning our trust. He was the kind of man with whom many people dreamt of spending an evening.” – Grace Kelly

Highclere Castle

The Sprawling British Estate - Highclere Castle


castle1Highclere has a long history. In the days of Edward VI, the Crown took possession of the manor on the site and granted it to another noble family. A hundred years later it passed into the possession of the Herberts. In 1692, Robert Sawyer, a lawyer and college friend of Samuel Pepys, bequeathed a mansion at Highclere to his grandson who was just one year old. His only daughter, Margaret, was the first wife of the 8th Earl of Pembroke. Their second son, Robert Sawyer Herbert, inherited Highclere, continued its portrait collection and extended the formal gardens building twelve temples. At the end of the eighteenth century, Highclere was inherited by his nephew, Colonel Henry Herbert, later created Baron Porchester and Earl of Carnarvon by George III.

The Inspiration that is Miss Potter

bunnykinsplateIn a world that has gone crazy it is refreshing to be taken into the world of Miss Potter. You are left wondering how many tales or adventures of their own Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton Tail went on. The joy of being in a world where each and every character comes to life from the books is an incredible journey. It goes without saying of course that at some time in the day or night your collection springs to life and all these years later they go on journeys of their own and write more tales - with Beatrix Potter capturing every detail. It is 10 PM here right now and I see some movement in my display cabinet... did Cotton Tail just whisper to Mopsy, “ let the show begin”?


comicWho remembers the good old days of no television or computer games, when we all went down to the corner café to buy the latest Superman or Wonder Woman comics?

Who would have thought then that those dog-eared comics could be so collectable today! Well, one person discovered just how valuable those old comics were when he went to clear out his great-aunt’s garage in Virginia in the US and discovered 354 neatly stacked comic books dating back decades and in mint condition. His discovery netted a cool $3.5 million on auction! If one considers the off-shoot of comic books – from action figures to movies – the impact of the art of the comic book is one that will continue to be highly collectable for many years to come. With phenomenal prices fetched for early and rare editions, collecting comic books has become a great collecting genre to collectors globally. With the most expensive Superman comic book fetching a cool $2.16 million, it is no wonder that collectors all over the world are scrambling through boot sales and garages to find those early editions.


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