While the IACF antiques and collectors fairs have always attracted visitors from overseas – both traders and buyers – a couple of recent new stall holders traveled further than most to sell their wares.
Alongside his father, Kiriakos, cousins Meneleus and Spiros Zepis, Spiros Theodorou spent five days travelling to the Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair from his home in Athens, Greece. The first day was spent loading up and driving to the Greek port of Patras to catch a 25-hour ferry to the Italian port of Ancona. Further days were spent driving through Italy and France before finally catching the ferry to Dover for the last leg of the journey, heading north to Newark.
It was the four Greek stallholders first time at the fair and, apart from 38-year-old Menelus, also their first time in England.
The four gentlemen are part of a large family business, with six shops in and around Athens, selling antiques, furniture and jewellery. They have often exhibited at fairs on the continent, but never before in Newark. “This fair has been a good one for us. The organisers are very friendly. Everyone smiles and that is not always the case back on the continent.” said Spiros. “We want to come back.”
Kiriakos & Meneleus are regarded as the really knowledgeable ones on the team. They are particularly interested in art deco and art nouveau furniture and Oriental and Middle Eastern items, but also include a vast array of art, silver jewellery and other antique items in their stock.
“We have really enjoyed our trip to Britain and love the country and its people, we will definitely be coming back. We might even open a shop!” said Spiros.
Though the Theodorou family must be among the stallholders who have travelled the furthest, the long-distance prize surely goes to two young Japanese dealers: Yuki Kobayashi & Hiroshi Muranishi, of Tanuki Japanese Antiques. Yuki and Hiroshi both
hail from just outside Tokyo and have shipped over a quantity of Japanese furniture, vintage signage, books and other interesting old Japanese items.
The name of their business, ‘tanuki’, refers to a Japanese Racoon Dog, which has been culturally significant in Japan since ancient times. The legendary tanuki of Japanese folklore is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but rather gullible and absentminded.
“This is the second year running that we have come to Newark,” said Yuki. “We come over for six weeks and fit in a number of smaller fairs around the Newark Fair, to make the trip worthwhile. We also buy when we come over. We have some nice vintage pine furniture with us, which we will ship back to Japan.”