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CHRISTIE'S AT HOUSE & GARDEN (article first published : 2006-06-17)

Ever wondered if there's more than just sentiment attached to that life-long keepsake you keep locked away as a memento of your past? Or how you might display a vintage toy, or a piece of old china/porcelain?

Christie's, an exciting newcomer among this year's line-up of special attractions at the East Coast Radio House and Garden Show taking place from June 30 to July 9, will help you find your answer. Christie's will present an eclectic, modern approach to interior design by mixing old and new, complementing the retro trend that is bringing yesteryear into today's living spaces.

"An effective way to display a good piece of period furniture is to offset it among other more contemporary items of décor. This creates a confident, ‘lived-in' look, instead of that stilted museum atmosphere one encounters in homes crammed with antiques." Good advice from Durban based Christie's consultant, Gillian Scott-Berning, who will be available to share practical ideas with show-goers about the 'Affordable Opulence' approach to collecting fine pieces.

In addition, two noted Christies specialists from London, Hugo Marsh and Louise Phelps, will provide free valuations of old toys and porcelain heirlooms. Toy specialist Hugo March heads Christies's Toy Department which covers a vast range of boy's toys. He was chief consultant for Miller's Toys and Games, published in 1994, and also wrote Christies's Toy Railways, published in 2002.

"While there is a special interest in toys from 1890-1914 (the Golden Age of toys), these pieces are extremely rare," says Marsh. "The main interest now is in toys, trains and toy soldiers made between 1920 and 1970. The fastest growing market is for items that appeal to the ‘baby boomer' generation. They are competing to buy back their childhood memories from the 1950s and 1960s as they bid for Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox toys."

"The famous Meccano Company, renowned for the constructor toy, also made Hornby trains and Dinky Toys," says Marsh. "Some of their rarest products were made for the South African market, namely fine 0 gauge trains in SAS and SAR liveries and Dinky Toys made in Johannesburg under license in the mid-1960s. They are identifiable by their unusual colour schemes and Afrikaans script on the boxes, and can fetch 10 or 20 times as much as the versions made in Liverpool."

European ceramic and glass specialist Louise Phelps will provide verbal valuations on porcelain ranging from 18th Century Meissen to 19th Century English majolica. Her special interest is in the Chelsea and Worcester factories.

Louise Phelps is responsible for cataloguing and generating business for the monthly British and Continental Ceramics 'Interior' auctions at South Kensington. She has seen some of the most extensive and important collections of European ceramics, and has been closely involved in the recent private collection sales of the Italian Royal family. The Collection of S.A.R. La Principessa Reale Maria Beatrice di Savoia which was 100% sold, and the Duke of Gloucester sale which totalled in excess of five million pounds.

Exciting porcelain pieces have been sold on behalf of South African clients recently. A Sevres jewelled tazza sold for £18,000 and a pair of Worcester shell decorated honey pots and covers sold for £3,800.

So scour that junk room and take your toys and ceramics along to the East Coast Radio House and Garden Show for free evaluation. You may just be the owner of a hidden treasure!

More information about the East Coast Radio House and Garden Show, which runs at the Durban Exhibition Centre from June 30 to July 9 can be found by logging onto www.housegardenshow.co.za




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