Tag archives for:

Antiques Diva™ Tours

Diva of the Day – Lucretia

Dear Diva Readers,

Continuing our ongoing series “Diva of the Day” featuring various Antiques Diva Personal Shopping and Buying Consultants/ Guides, today we’re focusing on The Low Countries.  Meet Lucretia!!

Antiques Diva

Which Tours do you lead?
Belgium and The Netherlands

What do you like about your job?
Meeting people from all over the world. I’ve had clients from Australia, the USA, South Africa, Asia, and Europe. After spending a day or more together, it’s as if we have known each other for years.

Antiques Diva

What do you consider your specialty in helping clients? What do you enjoy about helping clients?
I’ve been told by people in the antiques business that I have a good eye for quality.  Give me five vases and I will pick out the best. This is not only thanks to my master’s degree in art history, but also because I have aesthetics in my genes (my mother cannot stand ugliness – she even matched the clothes pins to the laundry when hanging it up to dry!)

When on the hunt with clients, my greatest pleasure is when I spot exactly what they were looking for, especially if it is the so-called needle in the hay stack.

Antiques Diva

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, went to university in the beautiful city of Ghent, and worked there for a few years. After marrying an American I had met in Milan, we moved to Amsterdam when he accepted a position there in the publishing business. After nine years, we moved out to the countryside a bit south of Amsterdam, to a pretty village called Breukelen. It is ideally located, between Amsterdam and Utrecht.

What do you do when you’re not working? Hobbies? Interests?
You can often find me on the couch with a magazine about interior decorating, as I want to be updated about the latest trends. Same for fashion, you don’t want to miss the developments. Things are changing dramatically in both areas; there are fewer rules, it’s all about mixing and matching, old and new. A whole interior in one style is considered very boring nowadays — sort of like the way you match your Valentino jacket with a pair of jeans.

Traveling is my greatest hobby. There is so much to discover — all that cultural heritage. Life is too short to see most of it, even when you limit yourself, as I do, to Europe and the USA. I can happily spend a couple of hours per day in a museum, then go (window) shopping, or enjoy an afternoon cake while people-watching.

I also spend at least an hour a day on preparing healthy and delicious meals — Italian style, lots of vegetables.

Favorite spot to vacation?
Definitely a big city, with lots of cultural heritage. London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, that kind of place, where you can alternate historic sights with shopping. But my favorite country is Italy. I’ve seen most of it, with the exception of the deep South, and their style and language just make me feel happy.

Do you have a favorite museum or work of art that inspires you?
Nissim de Camondo and Jacquemart-André in Paris, the Wallace Collection in London, the many palaces in Potsdam — to name a few — I love, because they are kept exactly as when they were lived in. When in Amsterdam, I always pay a visit to one of the canal house museums, like Van Loon, Willet Holthuizen or Geelvinck Hinloopen House. In an intimate setting you can dream about the splendor and wealth of the 18th or 19th century, and you get an idea of how houses were being decorated, even to the smallest details.

In the area where you lead your tours is there a special place you like to go? Perhaps it’s an area of town or a favorite cafe to drink your coffee?
In The Hague I like the opulent dining hall of the Hotel des Indes, also for just a cappuccino, while in Amsterdam my favorite area is the Nine Streets, situated between the canals and full of specialty boutiques. When I’m in Antwerp, I find the cafe in the rotunda of the Bourla theatre, dating from the early 1800s, a glamorous decor for relaxing. In Brussels, I would go to a typical Art Nouveau café like café Falstaff or the Ultimate Hallucination.

Antiques Diva

What do you think is the hardest thing for clients on tour? What do you recommend to help the client with this problem?
The amount of stuff we see in the warehouses, or on the flea markets, can be overwhelming. If the client gives us an idea beforehand what to look for, we can search more explicitly. And: allow some time for relaxing; a quick lunch can help to revive the fire of curiosity.

Give me 5 words that describe your personality
Affable, discerning, intuitive, self-confident, traditional.



Timeless Antiques in Belgium

Antiques Diva

Dear Diva Readers,

I’m really not supposed to pick favorites in my clients or my vendors… but here’s my Diva Confession du Jour…  I do! And between you and me, Tijdloos Antiek in Belgium happens to be on the top of my favorite places to take clients to shop in Belgium for French Antiques.

Antiques Diva

First off, the vendors – Roderic and his wife, Evy – are simply wonderful.  They are as nice as they are informed about their inventory.  Next up, they always treat my clients with such incredible customer service, going that extra mile to help Antiques Diva® clients find what they’re looking, sharing historical information (not to mention coffee and cookies) as well as answering a slew of Q’s .

 And then there is their inventory – which is DIVINE.  Tijdloos Antiek has good quality, gorgeously restored pieces and very reasonable prices.  I also like that they are creative – they aren’t afraid to repurpose pieces for modern living, for example cutting down tables to make coffee tables!  Clients go mad over these repurposed pieces!

With between 200 and 300 pieces of 18th and 19th C furniture in stock their store has gorgeous farm tables, wardrobes, cabinets, bureaus, secretaries and more!  Their pieces are beautifully and lovingly restored and net net, if you’re looking to buy wholesale in Belgium, Tijdloos Antiek gets The Antiques Diva® Seal of Approval!!  Thanks Roderic & Evy for being you!!

The Antiques Diva®   

PS.  If you’re going to Belgium, why not book a 2, 3 or 4 day Belgium Antiques Diva Tour so you can find more great warehouses like Tijdloos Antiek.  Email”> for more details.

Antiques Diva Virtual Buying Tours

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Recently tours” target=”_blank”>Modenus – the best design resource on the net – posted an article regarding ourto-the-trade/buying-services” target=”_blank”> buying services  and it occurred to me I was positively negligent in not sharing those details with you here on my own blog!!!  You know us as an European Antique Shopping Tour company… and when you’re in Europe and you want to go antiquing, we’re you’re first stop for taking an tours” target=”_blank”>antiques shopping tour.  But what IF you can’t come abroad!??  We know you WANT to travel overseas, but sometimes LIFE gets in the way….  you have work and family commitments or sometimes the cost of the trip + the cost of the purchases is simply too much on the budget.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t still want to go do shopping in Europe.  That’s where we come in…  we can buy on your behalf, giving you access to our sources in Europe and letting you shop from across the pond!!  While we offer antique buying tours, we also offer shopping services for our clients – both Trade & Private individuals.

How It Works?
When we buy for a client, we ask a lot of questions about what you’re looking for..  We want to know you and your style inside out.   Clients email us photos from pinterest or scanned from magazines, books, etc saying “I want everything in this picture” – sometimes antiques dealers even send us emails saying “see my competitors website… I want what she’s got!” as well as links to their own site to help us get a feel for their shop.  Some clients are decorating their own home and are looking for a key piece so they email pics of their living room telling us what they’re looking for and the space they are working with.

Once we get those pictures and links to websites our job is to do that little thing we do.  When you tell us what you’re looking for we go to our best contacts and get you photographs of the inventory we recommend for you.   Some of the things we suggest will be in response to what you’ve told us you want… but other things we suggest are things we think you might like.  You’ll get a lot of pre-choreographed photos sent to you.  We understand you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your perfect piece… so we’ll give you variety in colors, in scale, in quality,  in age and in price.

After we’ve sent  you photos you’ll come back to us and say “ugh hate photos #17, 22 and 36” giving us feedback on what you don’t like so we refine our search… but here’s where it gets good, you’ll say “OMG where have #12, # 16, # 33 and #42 been all my life. BUY THEM”.   A lot of the vendors we go to are wholesale dealers only – and they don’t negotiate.  On those vendors we’ll say – the price is X and X is what you’ll pay.  BUT – then we’ll tell you but photo # 16 and 42 are vendors who will negotiate and we’ll go to town on your behalf.

How Do You Get It Across the Pond?
At The Antiques Diva & Co we not only help you source, but we then also liaise you with international shippers.  When it comes to international shipping there are always problems (things break, shipments are delayed, etc. etc.).  The shippers we work with are not perfect, but either they work with us to fix and resolve the problems that invariably occur when international shipping is in place or we stop working with them, so we have a refined tried and tested network of international shippers we rely upon.

We’ll take your purchases from maybe 5 or 10 different sources – often in different countries – and help you coordinate  ONE shipping.  This one shipment saves you money off if you were buying direct from each of these vendors – and each vendor was shipping separately.

We’ll sticker your purchases, fill out your shipping purchase orders, even take Tylenol on your behalf as we handle headaches and liaise with an international shipper to get everything across the pond to you.

Why Shouldn’t You Just Shop Online for European Antiques?
You and I both know that the fact is you can scout webpages and search out European antiques all by yourself all over the web… the internet has made the world really small that way.  So why would you hire The Antiques Diva & Co to scout in Europe to source goods for your store when you could skip the middle man and shop yourself online?  The problem with buying online is that you don’t always know what you’re buying or if it looks as good in person as it does in the photos.  You don’t have relationships with the dealers nor someone to vet the inventory on your behalf before you pay a bundle to get it carted halfway around the world.  You don’t know who you should trust or shouldn’t.  When buying online you just click “add to cart”, no negotiating takes place, so you never really know if you’re getting the best price or if you could have gotten a better price.  And if you want to buy from multiple stores, shipping becomes a disaster because you’re paying more to ship a few things individually than to bulk everything from various sources when shipping them in one lot would have cost a whole lot less.  And MOST importantly… and here’s the kicker… the best sources in Europe aren’t online.

Most wholesale warehouses in Europe and the UK don’t sell on line, they provide an exclusive service to their trade clients by keeping their prices & inventory off the web for the discrete few who are lucky enough to gain entry into their world.    That’s where we come in.  The difference between Old World Culture and New World Culture is the secret handshake.  In Europe having an introduction gives you entry into an inner circle you can’t gain access to on your own.  Our job – whether you’re on a To The Trade Antiques Buying Tour or using our buying service – is to show you the secret handshake and introduce you to the people in Europe you need to know.

For More Information?
Contact me”> – I’d love to chat to discuss how we  could give you access to Buying Abroad!!

Warm Regards,
The Antiques Diva®

London’s Calling…

Antiques Diva

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>London is calling!!  Forget the Olympics there is a new game in town!

The Autumn Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair will be held from 2-7 October 2012 in the purpose-built marquee in Battersea Park, London SW, affectionately known as “Battersea” or “the Decorators’ Fair”. Perhaps the reason I love this fair so much is that it is aimed at a knowing audience decorating either their own home or that of a client and looking for a certain eclectic style from metropolitan chic to classic country house English and Continental furniture, period mirrors and lighting, works of art from all periods to the contemporary. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!! All this and more, including a tempting selection of one-off, individual accessories with an enviable choice for the collector, from tribal works to pictures, treen, ceramics and glass will be holding up the walls in marquee this autumn.

Why don’t you pop over to my locally based England Diva Agent’s website Antique News and Fairs and read what more she has to say about it!


You can also get more information by visiting the Decorative Fair website.

Now with all this information on the upcoming fair you might be downright disappointed that with late notice you can’t pop across the pond to attend the fair! Have no fear – the Decorative Fair will be back again – see details below.

Winter Fair: 22-27 January, 2013

Spring Fair: 23-28 April, 2013

Autumn Fair: 1-6 October, 2013

Planning your Antiques Diva England Tour to coincide with the plan would be brilliant! If you’re interested in either a Girls Getaway or a To The Trade Antique Shopping Tour in England, you could start your tour by attending the fair shopping like a world famous interior designer – using sources those same designers would rather you not know about. And then the next thing you know we would bebop you around Britain hitting more decorators sources in Britain. Whether you’re looking for cerebral or academic antiques, the old school decorative look beloved of England’s Country Houses or the quirky brave look of the modern dealer, booking an Antiques Diva Tour to coincide with the Decorative Fair would guarantee you saw the Best of Britain! Go Team GB!!

Diva Bags

Stay tuned for my Facebook and Twitter pics coming Live From The Fair!! This year I will be touring with fair with a group of London Design Bloggers on a special behind the scenes tour. Shhhh… Don’t tell anyone but I’ve already had these bloggers custom-made Antiques Diva shopping totes prepared for their tour! Aren’t they gorgeous? These bags are for our VIP tours – when you book your tour make sure you ask about how you can qualify to be a VIP – no, make that VID – Very Important Diva!!

Last but not least before I close and go catch my plane to Parma to attend Mercanteinfiera , I want to tell you about one more special offer. While our tours run year-round and can always be catered to your travel dates, we are starting to offer special tours on set dates available exclusively to our trade clients. We’ve got some trade dates available this fall – email me me to find out more and join us in England for special trade tours between October 15 and 22 and again in November 7 til the 14.

The Antiques Diva®

Toma Clark Haines

tons/follow-me-on-pinterest-button.png” alt=”Follow Me on Pinterest” width=”210″ height=”28″ />

HiP Paris Antiques Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>I am absolutely delighted to announce that Haven in Paris – with their short term luxury apartment rentals in Paris, Provence and Tuscany – has chosen my company The Antiques Diva & Co European Tours to be included in their list of recommended servicesWhile many companies provide links to a variety of services, Haven in Paris personally verifies all their service providers, really screening the services they recommend so they can give them the HiP Paris Seal of Approval!  They test shopped our company recently and then they wrote about their tour-of-paris-marche-aux-puces/ ” target=”_blank”>Paris Flea Market Tour on their uber-popular blog tour-of-paris-marche-aux-puces/ ” target=”_blank”>HiP Paris

Paris Diva Guide – Franca

They shopped with one of my Paris Diva Guides – Franca – and my favorite line of the article reads, “After experiencing a guided {Paris Flea Market} tour, though, we couldn’t imagine a serious antique-buying spree without our lovely Franca there to guide us to the real gems and ease away our fears with her expert bargaining.”

tour.jpg”>tour” src=”” alt=”” width=”580″ height=”400″ />

Photo Courtesy of HiP Paris

Franca is an absolute gem and simply an expert antique shopper and I must tell you that I consider myself  down-right lucky and honored to work with 4 lovely ladies in Paris – they help me guide Paris Antiques Diva Tours when one of the other 6 countries where we offer tours has me away from the city of light and I’m not able to lead tours myself!  I’ve gathered a team of professional stylistas who know Paris like the back of their hand to guide Diva Clients through the Paris Fleas… and whether you’re shopping with Franca, Kim, Jennifer or Laila this statement from HiP Paris holds true!

Each time a client takes a tour they tend to write me the nicest notes, thanking me for introducing them to their new best friend in Paris – saying “I couldn’t imagine shopping the Paris Flea Market without The Antiques Diva & Co by my side”. 

On Antiques Diva Tours, we don’t just shop with you – we share our life!  We’re like your interior decorator, personal shopper and best friend combined and it just so happens we have an incredibly chic little black book of the best addresses in town and it’s our goal to match our contacts with your shopping desires to help you find that perfect souvenir from Paris! Don’t forget that in French “souvenir” means memories – and our goal is to help you buy memories so you can bring them home and put them on your mantle! 

Sincere thanks to Erica, Ariel and Andrea and the whole Haven in Paris Team for our Paris Flea Market Tour review – make sure to read the tour-of-paris-marche-aux-puces/ ” target=”_blank”>article here and to check all their other great tips on the Haven in Paris blog!!!

The Antiques Diva®
(seen below with 2 of my Diva Guides recently in Paris)

The Marionette Kings

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While my Antiques Diva Guide in Italy – Susan – and I were out shopping in Tuscany recently doing hard-core research for an upcoming Antiques Diva Tour I snapped a photo of some incredibly charming, toy-like crowns in the window of an antique and vintage shop.  A month later while sorting through the photos they caught my eye again and I jotted Susan a quick email, asking her to refresh my middle-aged memory as to what these cute crowns were… alas, I fear it’s time to face the inevitable, I’m creeping into middle age and my memory has gone down the toilet!  Susan,” I wrote, What are these and Where did we find them!! I love them!” Susan’s reply had me spell-bound and I had to share with you the story that unfolded leaving me utterly intrigued. 

Susan wrote, “We found these in that little courtyard just off Via Di Fossi in Florence – this courtyard is just one of the little surprises you find in Tuscany if you know where to poke your nose.  You spied these at the very back of the long tiny narrow shop and I think you took this photo as we peered thru’ the glass and saw an Aladdin’s cave packed with curiosities. On a table lay a stack of tin crowns… they were almost full-size but not quite and they were placed far away from their owners who lingered in the corner with beady eyes staring out at us”.

This was sounding ominous… I’m often snapping photos and being yelled at after-the-fact as many a vendor in foreign locales doesn’t like you taking pictures of their inventory.  But I didn’t remember being yelled at by an Italian dealer and I usually remember the good tongue lashings.   As I read on, I discovered the crowns in-animate owners hung on strings in the back of the shop.

Susan explained, “Tucked away in the corner there hung several Sicilian Marionettes, finely chiseled faces, curved mustaches, long dark hair, plumbed hats and headdresses, though covered with dust they still possessed their arrogant and haughty air.”

These crowns I adored belonged to the famous Sicilian Marionettes – known as Pupil Sicilians!  And then Susan went on, enthusiastic in her reply, “But these are so much more than mere puppets! They can stand 1.20 meter in height fully (nearly 4 feet)  regaled in elaborate period costumes, finely crafted coats of arms, velvet cloaks, brocade dresses… and crowns! I know how you like the crowns, dear diva” and I could almost hear her chuckling as she typed. 

Photo from Flickr –

These puppets were not only for the story telling – they offered the people of Sicily so much more than we could imagine!  Susan explained, “When many folk were illiterate or books were only for the elite, way before the age of television, when transport was by mule or horse, little theatres would travel from town to town, re-enacting and telling historic epilogues of battles, chivalry and heroism, where honour always prevailed, stories based on local folklore and comedy, the spirit of rebellion and idealism of the Sicilian working classes of the XIX century gave honour and hope. Scenes were highly animated with wonderful theatrical effects, played vivaciously in Sicilian dialect. Typically, the marionettes and their theatre depicted medieval characters and legendary events based loosely on history. There’s Orlando (Roland), one of Charlemagne’s knights, and the Norman knights of King Roger of Sicily. And Saracens (Moors). Baroque paladins, really, since their costumes are often more reminiscent of sixteenth century decoration than medieval armour and clothes. More recently, the puppeteers adapted stories of the Sicilian aristocracy (such as “The Baroness of Carini”) to their tiny stages. As folk art, the productions are typically expressions of the popular perception of personages and events rather than faithful chronicles of history and literature. That was always the idea of this kind of entertainment. It wasn’t meant to be informative so much as inspirational”.

photo from Italy Beyond the Obvious

 “Inspirational?” I pondered, but leave it to Susan to explain before I’d even had a chance to write my query, “Inspirational in the sense that spectators might in some way compare the stories or characters to their own lives. Puppet theatre sometimes provided an innocent alternative to the passion plays of the Church. It could even be mildly revolutionary, though most themes served to idealize the nobility which controlled Sicily, reinforcing the strictures of a feudal society that existed in the countryside. While it eventually became a popular entertainment for children, it appealed to adults, too. Though with the advent of TV, computer games and other distractions, the poor ‘pupi’ have been forgotten but there are still some places where you can see them today.” 


Utterly enchanted with my Antiques Diva Italian Guide’s tale of these Marionettes I’m having buyer’s remorse that I didn’t purchase a crown or two!  But now I’ve a new obsession – I want to go see a Sicilian Marionette Show!  Back to Susan I queried, “Where oh where can I pursue this new interest?”  And without a moment’s hesitance she responded with a Diva-Worthy List of Marionette Details:

Palermo – the capital of Sicily hosts the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino (the Pasqualino family are Sicilian puppeteers still active today) and the Museo Etnografico Siciliano Giuseppe Pitrè. A Sicilian puppeteer still active today is Mimmo Cuticchio, who also appeared in the film The Godfather: part III

Messina – in this Sicilian city, an active puppeteers family are the Garganos

Catania – there is a theatre, called Teatro Stabile dell’Opera dei Pupi, in the cultural centre ‘Le Ciminiere’.

Acireale – in this Sicilian town, in the Catania province, there are the Museo dell’Opera dei Pupi Mario

Grasso and the Theatre ‘Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi’ dedicated to Emanuele Macrì

Caltagirone – this town, in the Catania province, hosts a theatre which is also a museum: Teatro-museo dei Pupi Siciliani

Randazzo – a small village on the Etna, in the province of Catania, Sicily, displays a collection of ‘pupi’ in the Museo Civico Vagliasindi.

Ciao Bella,
The Antiques Diva®
With a little help from your Italian Diva Guide, Susan P

Antique Shopping in Sussex England

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>A true diva is only as good as her contacts…. And I must confess my little black book is bulging with great names and addresses! The success of my company – The Antiques Diva & Co European Tours – depends entirely upon the contacts my Diva Guides & I make in the field.  After all, it’s our job to take you to the best antique, vintage and flea market shopping on this side of the pond!  Recently I’d posted a comment on Facebook about our tours/england/ ” target=”_blank”>English Antiques Diva Tours and a Facebook Fan wrote me a note sharing a few addresses she thought I should check out in the UK.  As Julia and I chatted back and forth I gave her my email address and asked – “Would you mind sending me an email with your favorite places to antique shop in England?”  Expecting only a few lines, I was delighted by Julia’s response!  She wrote,

Dear Diva, 

top”>If you are planning to come south in England on any of your antique trails, I can recommend Sussex as a great spot to visit.  Ardingly Antiques Fair is a good starting point – I am sure you know it, but if not it has around 1,000 stalls and runs over two days on a Tues/Weds. 

Stable Antiques is in Storrington which is a pretty village at the foot of the South Downs.  The building is literally an old stable complete with flagstones, cobbled floors and is packed with items.  There are around 30 plus dealers in there and we get visits from the trade, shippers and the general public.  It’s open every day from 10am-6pm, except Bank Holidays when it opens from 11am-5pm.  Stock changes all the time but includes painted furniture, garden and home items, vintage items, French antiques, pretty china, glass, silver, jewellery – pretty much anything!

Close by is the village of Pulborough where you’ll find a very pretty shop called” target=”_blank”>The Corn Store which is next to a bridge over the River Arun.  Again, it has a lovely mix of dealers and also a lovely little tea shop.  But take note, they do not open on Mondays and their hours are 10am-5pm during the week and shorter on a Sunday.

topham-bridge-over-river-arun-near-pulborough-sussex-england-united-kingdom-europe.jpg”>topham-bridge-over-river-arun-near-pulborough-sussex-england-united-kingdom-europe” src=”” alt=”” width=”400″ height=”300″ />

From Storrington, it is a short trip to Arundel which is a stunning small town with a castle and cathedral.  The iconic Spencer Swaffer has a shop on the main street in a gorgeous Georgian building – and they have 4 floors packed with wonderful, eclectic items.  You could spend half a day in there quite easily.  There are lots of little shops in Tarrant St, some are antiques shops and others are more craft oriented. 

The town of Petworth is another well known antiques destination – you’ll find higher prices than elsewhere, but if someone has the budget, it’s definitely worth a look.  The town has one antiques centre and quite a few individual shops, plus tea shops etc.

There are also great boot sales on a Thursday and Saturday at Ford – the old airfield, near Ford prison.  A huge amount of people sell here, including house clearance and antiques and come from all over England to do so.  It is a real dealers’ market, very hectic and aggressive.  Not for the faint hearted – but bargains abound.

Other places of interest include:

Denmans Gardens – good cafe and a lovely nursery to visit near Chichester

Architectural Plants – nursery specialising in unusual, tropical and other plants

Petworth House – National Trust owned property with lovely old kitchens – often have events running there as well

Back into the heart of Sussex, some friends have opened a vintage shop in an old country barn – Swallows Brick Barn, near Shipley.  They are on Facebook and have lots of painted furniture, vintage clothes, pretty china etc.  Open Thurs-Sunday but if you Facebooked them they may open for you on another day!

Another market which I sell at is” target=”_blank”>Sunbury Antiques on Kempton racecourse – again, I am sure you know this well but it is a fantastic place to visit and is held twice a month on a Tuesday. 

I hope the information is useful.  I would love to come on one of your French tours someday – I love your blog and hope to see you in Sussex some day soon!



I was so touched by Julia’s email I had to share it with you! I want to give a huge SHOUT OUT to Julia.  She’s so MODEST that in her letter she didn’t even toot her own horn! 

Julia trades as Gazehound Vintage at Stable Antiques situated in Storrington, W Sussex, UK.  Please visit Gazehound Vintage on Facebook or follow @tatmeister on Twitter for more information.

Happy Shopping in England!
The Antiques Diva®

Meet La Dolce Diva – Susan, our Diva Guide in Italy!

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>In today’s blog I want to introduce you to La Dolce Diva – Susan, our Diva Guide leading antique shopping tours in Tuscany! Susan is a dazzling Brit living in Tuscany and is a dream-come-true! She’s quite possibly the most affable person I’ve met, with an easy smile, a lifetime lived exploring antiques, a quirky nature and an eye for style! Susan describes herself as “British by birth, Welsh by choice, Mid-Atlantic by nature, and Italian by adoption”.

Meet Susan – La Dolce Diva! The Antiques Diva® Guide in Tuscany!


Susan tells about Growing up in Britain…

“For as long as I can remember, design and decoration have been a part of my life. As a small child I spent hours playing with the doll’s house that my father had made for us, staging the rooms, making and hanging curtains, stitching tiny cushions, adding bits and pieces… My dad was quite a craftsman; he made the tiny furniture and electrified the house with a huge battery. I loved Lego too; building houses, gardens, rooms. I was also an avid fan of ‘Pelham Puppets (very British!) and would pour over catalogues deciding what I would like, then save my pocket money. When I had enough I carefully filled out the form with my order and rushed down to the post office to buy the postal order and send it off. Those were agonizing days when I would wait eagerly for the postman to arrive. I recall one Christmas when we received a theatre – how excited we were, painting the cut out wooden scenes with my sister, then creating grand plays and shows for our family and friends. I continuously moved the furniture around in my bedroom. I recall when I was around 10 years of age my room was to be redecorated and I was allowed to choose the wall paper, though what I chose was not exactly what my mother had had in mind; a dark blue ground with green and white snowdrops… but I loved it. As I got older I would accompany my father to visit British country homes and gardens, he was a great historian and purveyor of fine things. Subconsciously the seeds had been sown and germination started.”

Susan tells about starting her career as a Buyer at Harrods in London

“I left Wales for the bright lights of London to pursue a career in retailing, where better place to start than the renown store of Harrods. For our final assignment we were asked which department interested us most – much to raised eyebrows I nominated the antiques department. There was a warm and friendly, small close-knit team, the buyer was delighted to have a little go-fer, and soon I was attending auctions, bidding and buying… upon his direction of course. I loved the auction room – the excitement and thrill of the sales. One summer I went to visit my sister in New York and couldn’t resist attending one there and not long after found myself as a permanent fixture in one of the British auction houses in the city, eventually becoming a specialist in 19th & 20th Furniture and Decorative Arts.”


Bright Lights… Big City! Susan tells about living in New York City & working in antiques

After six wonderful and formative years in the boom of the mid 80’s, working with dealers and collectors it was time to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City. Through a strange series of circumstances, I found myself in Tuscany. It was merely by chance and most certainly a random choice that I made, with six months to spare between jobs and ironically not quite knowing what to do. Back home in my native Britain I had picked up a very English magazine… not to be named of course, but well-known for its knitting patterns and traditional recipes, but perhaps above all, for being the place to look for short term jobs abroad, little box ads for nannies and au pairs. It was exactly one of these ads that caught my eye; it read… ‘come to Tuscany and work two hours a day’…. Hmmm, what an invitation, who could refuse?”

Susan tells how she moved to Tuscany nearly 20 years ago and became La Dolce Diva! 

“I found myself on a beautiful 3000-acre agricultural estate in the heart of Tuscany just outside of Siena and in love in more ways than one. I was fortunate enough to become part of an Italian family and over the last twenty years have had a hand in developing an ‘agriturismo’ business; a multifaceted task which amongst other things has involved the refurbishment and renovation of over a dozen buildings.”

Susan tells about Antique Shopping in Italy

“The most fun part of working on an estate in Italy was of course decorating the houses… the resources in Italy are fabulous, the natural elements such as terracotta, marble, stone, beautiful ceramic tiles, rich fabrics, tassels and ties and of course an excuse to indulge in my preferred past time. Shopping takes a little time and patience and a lot of talk and schmoozing… the Italians are famed for that and it’s an integral part of the culture that must be embraced. My tastes are eclectic, ranging from fine period antiques, silver and paintings to vintage clothing and re-purposed agricultural tools and equipment. I still love to frequent the auction houses too. Of course it’s even better and more fun in company and I’m more than happy to share my secrets!”

tours/italy/ ” target=”_blank”>Book an Antiques Diva Tour in Tuscany, Italy-Florence, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo and more…


The Antiques Diva®

ton1.jpg”>ton2.jpg”>ton3.jpg”>ton” src=”” alt=”” width=”469″ height=”398″ />ton.jpg”>

Antique Shopping Tours in Italy

Dear Diva Readers,
Extra, Extra Read All About It….  The Antiques Diva & Co is expanding and offering Antique Shopping Tours in Italy!!!! 

Flea Markets and Ferragamo await in Florence as do fragrant sessions with an haute-couture perfumer, creating custom scents just for you.  Wrap yourself in luxury Italian linens or linger in Lucca, enjoying the local wines and gourmet delicacies.  Stay in Sienna visiting antique sales or shop for salvaged pieces at secret sources.  Search the streets of Arezzo looking for religious relics and rustic pieces.  And while you’re at it, book a cooking course, a day at the outlets or visit our favorite vineyards with our Diva Excursions.  On Antiques Diva ® Italian Tours you’re guaranteed to enjoy La Dolce Diva as we share not just antiques but Italian lifestyle!

Inquire for details”>

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we disclose some of our favorite Italian Sources, as you meet our Diva Guide Susan and as we share some of our favorite addresses under the Tuscan sun!


The Antiques Diva®

Leave the Gun, Take the Colombo…

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>An Antiques Diva reader recently asked my advice.  She had gone to an auction at Amsterdam’s newest – and hottest – auction house, Gavelers, and had purchased a dazzling Italian chair with which she’d fallen head over heels in love.  And while she felt she had scored a prize at auction she wanted my expert opinion.  “What do you know about Joe Colombo?”

The boss of the Colombo crime family” I asked, not giving her time to interrupt.  I love a good murder. 

Rumor has it that this Godfather was an ardent Catholic.  They say that when a thief stole a jewel-studded crown from his church that Colombo found the criminal and forced him to return the crown and that later the thief was found dead with a rosary wrapped around his neck.” I excitedly explained, “Reportedly it was Colombo’s work.”

“Er… Interesting…” she responded, But I meant the Italian designer,”

I detected that she seemed more than a little freaked out by my mafia knowledge.  “Too much Soprano’s” I quickly explained, and then confessed that I wasn’t an expert on this particular period.  “But what is your stomach telling you?” she queried, “I paid 1500E – do you think I got a good deal?”  My first instinct was to answer in the affirmative, but while I may not be an expert on mid-century design, I know people who are!

tour-guide.jpg”>tour guide” src=”” alt=”” width=”640″ height=”480″ />

My first call was to my tours/abouttours/” target=”_blank”>Antiques Diva Tour Guide, Lucretia.  

I must confess Lucretia is the brains (as well as beauty) behind my tour operation in the Netherlands and Belgium and I knew she’d be quick with an answer.  Great buy!” she confirmed, as she went on to explain, “The name of this chair is officially: Painted plywood chair 4801 and it was made in 1964 in Italy by Joe Colombo.” 

Since a mutual friend works at this auction house, she encouraged me to reach out to Gavelers and ask their opinion on the chair.  One email was sent and forwarded onto the right party and before I could go search for a cannoli (all this Godfather talk was making me hungry) Marcel Brouwer, the 20th Century Design Specialist at Gavelers, had responded to my email, providing a bit more behind-the-scenes info on this purchase.  

Brouwer explained, “This particular chair was manufactured by Kartell and has been made out of three pieces of laminated bentwood. What was so amazing about the chair – apart from its reasonable purchase price (the white example has been sold at DOUBLE that amount before) – is its condition. Due to use, these wooden chairs normally have been worn quite a lot, specifically on top of the seat. It is rare to find an example which is not repainted. This particular chair had its first and only original paint layer. The client who bought the chair had a very good deal since vintage furniture of well-known designers, icons of the 20th century, in pristine condition will always be desirable.

Special thanks to Marcel Brouwer of Gavelers for filling in the gaps on this client’s query.  Next time I’m going to auction, I’m going to Gavelers!  

Going, going, gone, ciao, ciao!

The Antiques Diva®
(seen below on vacation in the Amalfi coast)

Book a Tour

The Antiques Diva & Co offers custom planned Antiques Buying Tours for tourists and trade professionals. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or wanting to fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places.

Back to top