Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Minton Floor goes on show at St Georges Hall

ONE of Liverpool’s hidden treasures is on display to the public for the next two weeks after the huge success of a previous viewing.
The Minton Tile mosaic masterpiece, at St George’s Hall, is normally hidden beneath wooden flooring.
But yesterday the covering was temporarily removed to allow the Great Hall’s ornate tiles to be revealed in all their glory.
It is the second time this year the floor tiles have gone on public display, after the success of a previous viewing in February. They are usually only revealed once a year.
The floor consists of 30,000 hand crafted tiles, many depicting the world famous Liver Bird along with Neptune, sea nymphs, dolphins and tridents. More than 15,000 people visited the hall when they were unveiled earlier this year. Cllr Tina Gould, who has special responsibility for the Hall and was recently appointed as a trustee, said: “When we last unveiled the floor, the response was huge.
“It makes sense to open it up to the public once again and give anyone who missed it another chance to see this amazing display of craftsmanship. The Hall and its Minton tiles really are one of Britain’s finest Victorian wonders.”
The tiles were first revealed in April 2007 after the completion of a 10-year, £23m restoration of the Grade I-listed Hall.
More than 167,000 people visited St George’s Hall last year, making it one of the city’s top six heritage attractions.The ornate floor was first laid in 1852, at a cost of £3,000. It was designed by Alfred Stevens, the 34-year-old son of a Blandford house decorator.
The mosaic was originally covered in the 1860s to provide a more hardwearing surface for dancing.
The tiles will be on display until August 23, and can be viewed from 11am with the last admission at 4.30pm every day.
There is an admission charge of £1 for adults, with free entry for children. At 2pm each day, there will be a talk on the history of St George’s Hall by experts in the Reid Room, admission by donation.
There are also evening tours available, with admission limited to 25 people. The tours take place every day from 5pm (except Sunday) and cost £5 per head. To book an evening tour call (0151) 225 6909.
Entrance to the venue is from the Heritage Centre on St John’s Lane.

Monday, 10 August 2009

A Sign of the Times

Largest antiques wholesaler in the US closes

July saw the final sale to liquidate the enormous inventory that constituted Merritt’s Antiques.
The Douglassville business had been in operation since 1938 and was an established fixture in the Pennsylvania antiques marketplace and well known to European dealers as the largest antiques wholesaler in the United States.
Marty Merritt, 63, went on his first antiques-buying tour to Europe with his mother Mary in 1963, when he was 17. At the peak of trading he would visit the docks in Philadelphia several times a week to pick up containers and recalls passing through Checkpoint Charlie on early buying trips to East Germany.
The sagging economy, the age of the owners and the decline of antiques wholesaling led to the decision to liquidate a massive stock at auction. The Merritt Clock Shop, the largest clock parts business in the US, remains open.

Sotheby’s revenues halved

Second quarter results for Sotheby’s in 2009 show operating revenues down almost half to $167.3m on the first three months of the year thanks largely to the decline in auction totals.
Increased commission rates have helped soften the blow, as has a reduction in losses brought about by guarantees and a 30 per cent fall-off in costs. The result is a net profit of $12.2m, compared to $95.3m for the first quarter.
Looking at the whole of the first six months of 2009, operating revenues fell by just over a half on the second half of 2008 to $221.7m. Meanwhile, the $82.9m profit for the last six months of last year turned into a $22.3m loss from January to June 2009.
Sellers also appear to have adjusted to losing the cushion of guarantees and to curbing their expectations when it comes to reserves and sale prices.
It is hard to tell when the market will pick up again.

Monday, 3 August 2009

St Georges Hall Antique Fair is not Fair with the Trade.

It would be nice to promote a local antique fair in such a monumental building as St Georges Hall in Liverpool. I had been there on the opening event in 2008 declaring on the local radio how good it was for Liverpool in the overhyped European Capital of Culture year. The event spilled over into the wings of the main hall. Not any more.
It looks like the fair is on its slippery slope to oblivion or so the word on the stalls say. The stallholders have been told the organisers are getting messed around by the city council. Hmmm.
It looks likely to me that this antique fair now has a limited lifespan.
Why do the organisers of antique fairs not understand that the long established custom of assisting the trade with free entrance (with a card)in to a fair is something that loses them money. It helps generate trade for the stallholders early in the morning making it easy for them to re-book.
£2.50 for the trade entrance what is the point? Several trade that I know, who spend, walked away from the overzealous organisers of this, what is now a poor excuse for a antique fair, rather than pay. We dont like being held to ransom by the trade I was told by the organiser. Bye Bye.