Quirky Finds at Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair

With iconic works by Picasso and Monet on sale at the 40thInternational Fine Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia, you could be forgiven for feeling a little intimidated visiting such an event, particularly given the combined price tag of £5.5 million for those two pieces alone. What I actually found as I made my way around Olympia last Friday was a series of quirky pieces that immediately caught my eye and had the historical interest to capture my imagination.

With excellent timing given the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, SophieDupré was displaying the Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee Fan.

Made by Duvelleroy of Paris and signed by 42 members of the Royal Families of Europe at the Banquet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, this extraordinary fan was in amazing condition and really breath-taking in real life.

A very interesting piece also on display at Sophie Dupré was a pirate recording of the abdication speech of King Edward VIII! Only one copy was supposed to be made, but 6 were secretly recorded and eventually found their way into the hands of collectors. Strange but true.

International Book Specialists,Potterton Books, had an impressive stand featuring Fine and Decorative Arts, Design and Decoration books. The three that really caught my eye were French fabric swatch books used by salesman who travelled all over France selling fabric designs in the early 19th century. One of the books had been bought by a French fabric house in the latter part of the 19th century who removed some of the swatches and replaced them with drawings of the popular dress designs of the day.

Despite the many years that have passed, the swatches have retained their colour and vibrancy amazingly well. Popular today with modern design companies, these books are typically bought and the designs are then reproduced as there is no longer any copyright applicable due to their age.

Lastly, a real “What on earth is that?!” moment occurred as I made my way past Hatchwell Antiques and spotted (how could you miss them) a pair of laminated Sitka spruce wind tunnel fans. These two huge fans were from the 7 by 10 foot high-speed wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Centre, USA and were used during the Vietnam War and the Cold War era to test American military aircraft and missiles.

The fair is on until Sunday 17th June at the Olympia Exhibition Centre, check the website for more information.