SA's Only Antiques, Collectables And Decorative Arts Magazine
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.



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.

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.


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.


elvisWhen it comes to ‘Rocking Around The Clock’ it seems that Elvis fans around the world are still keeping the legend that is Elvis alive by celebrating his life and of course searching the world for any Elvis memorabilia they can find.

The passion for collecting anything connected to Elvis began well before his death and continues as an important collecting genre. In the early days fans collected concert tickets, posters, records, cuttings and anything they could find. Later on many licensed goods were manufactured and are, in fact, produced even more prolifically now. Vintage Elvis items are what the serious collector goes after although they are hard to find and very expensive.

Honouring Mandela

mandelaThe world went into mourning on December 5th 2013 when the news broke that Nelson Mandela had passed away at the age of 95. No other person, in living memory, was able to affect people from all corners of the globe with his life, his struggle and his legacy. Recognised as a peace-maker, he will go down in history as one of the most important icons of our time who sacrificed his freedom to free others and taught the world about compassion and reconciliation.

“One of the brightest lights of our world has gone out.” UK Prime Minister - David Cameron “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth.”

US President - Barack Obama “Our nation has lost its greatest son.”

Collecting Vintage Mexican Jewellery

mexicanHeleen Bossi will be hosting an exhibition of her collection of Mexican Vintage Silver Jewellery at the Slee Gallery in Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. This selling exhibition will open on Thursday, 20 September at 18h30 and will continue until the end of September. Heleen is the owner of Paisley’s Antique Jewellery and has been working in the field of antique and vintage jewellery for the past 28 years. She started collecting vintage Mexican jewellery many years ago and has travelled all over the world to put her unique collection together. This will be the first exhibition of its kind to be hosted in South-Africa and is endorsed by the Mexican Embassy.

“There will be approximately 250 pieces of Mexican silver jewellery on display, including pieces by well-known designers such as William Spratling, Antonio Pineda, Margot, Los Castillo and others. Most of the pieces were made between 1930 and the turn of the 20th Century.”

Restoration Revival

restorationTo restore or not to restore your loved antique furniture is always a question that many collectors want to know the answer to. Preservation, is of course, as far as I am concerned a must when looking after the heirlooms you have purchased or inherited.

Of course the huge secondary question once you have decided to have an item restored is why give the job to a professional when it seems so minor. Once you have realized you need the help of a professional restorer who will not cause more damage than good it is then time to seek out the right professional. In my line of work it seems easier said than done - I see so many pieces that have been bastardized during this process. I strongly suggest going to a few shops and seeing the work that they are having done and then find out who they use. You will need to get the restorer to come to your home to look at the larger items. Ask questions about what technique will be used and see what knowledge they have of your piece. Preservation should be restoring your item to as close to the original condition as possible - using correct procedures to do so is important.

Magical Matjiesfontein

MatjiesfonteinClyde Terry of Clyde on 4th re-visits Matjiesfontein and indulges in the sumptuous surroundings of yesteryear and revisits the ghosts that haunt it.

“Many years ago when I stayed overnight at the Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein I swear I saw a ghost! The apparition of a lady dressed in white regally standing on the stairwell of the room I was in that led down to the bathroom woke me and left me quite shaken. Did I really see what I saw or was I just overtired and over-stimulated. Suffice to say I left in a hurry! On this trip I was on a mission to find out the truth and dispel my fears. When I asked the new hotel manager, he said “are you not aware of the legends of the ghosts here?” I became more intrigued and now know that the apparition I saw is the lady many people have seen wandering through the house and gardens. I relaxed, knowing that I was not the only one to be ‘spooked’ by a lovely lady from the past who had lived in this magnificent house in Matjiesfontein – the heart of what is indeed an oasis in the Karoo.


luster3Lusterware was not the work of just one maker, like Wedgwood ware, nor of any one place, like old blue Staffordshire. The time and circumstances of its reinvention or introduction into England are a matter of doubt. Copper luster was made as early as 1770 at Brislington, near Bristol, and prior to 1800 at Staffordshire, Longton, Sunderland (famous for its pink luster), Leeds, Prestonpans, Dillwyn, Swansea, and at other potteries in different parts of England. It was also made in small quantities at Wedgwood’s Etruria works.

The earlier, cruder pieces are hard to place; more is known as to the makers of the later ware, though very few pieces are marked. It is possible, too, that some of it was imported from Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium, but most of that found in this country is undoubtedly of English make.

It was an English product that our forefathers used, and though inferior to the earlier ware in many ways, it is interesting, and practically the only kind collected to-day. After passing through a crude stage in its development in England, lusterware came into fashion a hundred years ago as “best china,” following and rivaling Lowestoft in that capacity.

The Art Of Investing In Art

artArt has long been considered an investment of passion, one that not only offers aesthetic pleasure but the potential for economic benefit. Only recently has art investing been viewed through the lens of modern portfolio theory and considered as a potential alternative investment in a portfolio of assets.

Market paradigms have shifted dramatically over the last several decades, as newly created wealth in emerging markets such as China, Russia and the Middle East has increased the number of participants in the art trade, giving the market greater resiliency. Undeterred by a rough economic environment in recent years, collectors globally are paying record sums for top works.

The Style of Furniture

stylefurnitureSome people collect antiques as a hobby and some appreciate the craftsmanship of past artisans. For some, having antique furniture is a source of pride. Many people enjoy and use the furniture and hardly give a thought to how the furniture came into existence and what woods were used.

Collecting antiques is a most delightful and rewarding hobby and one which can be enjoyed at any age. It provides a cultural interest long after other entertainments have begun to pall. A true collector is never bored. When he is not actively searching he can be reading and studying, and he will never cease to learn.

The experience is not just unique but also gives a classy and attractive look to those houses decorated with these vintage furniture and interior items due to its extravagant look.

It takes years of experience, observation, study, and training to differentiate between an antique piece of furniture and a faithful reproduction. Some characteristics, however, cannot be reproduced. Perhaps the most unmistakable one is patina. This is a mellowing of the surface acquired by wood through age, use, dusting, and polishing.


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