Antiques fair’s rich 40-year history

Furniture, flagons, funnels, filigree at fair.

A silver wine label, a porcelain piece, an antique choker or a crystal goblet – whatever takes your fancy, you are sure to find it at the South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA) antique fair this weekend.

And this year, in its 40th year it will be held in a new venue – in the hall at the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology, in Firgrove Way, Constantia.

The event could not take place without volunteers. Normally seen in the grounds in Brommersvlei Road, they also work in the background helping with fund-raising or sorting second-hand items for the car-boot sales.

At the helm, organising this year’s fair, is Philippa Owen.

“We’re sad to lose the old venue at the Great Cellar at the Alphen Hotel, and it has been challenging finding a new venue. However, this venue is bigger, and so we needed new dealers,” she says.

One of the longest dealers over the years is Cally Hodson, of Horses in Art, in Stellenbosch. Actually her family donated the first pony to Sarda in the 1970s.

Red Velvet belonged to Cally’s brother, Jan Newman, then aged 5. The whole family are horse lovers and grew up in Bergvliet.

For many years, Cally’s sisters, Dita Newman and Jenny du Plessis, had a popular stand at the fair, Belle Ombre Antiques, selling Cape furniture.

“Sarda has always held a special place in the hearts of those living in the Constantia valley, and the antiques fair has always been an important event on the social calendar and is eagerly looked forward to by many,” said Cally.

Barbara Collins has participated in the Sarda fairs for 22 years and owned the Georgian Antiques & Vintage shops in Claremont and Plettenberg Bay.

The Sarda fair is her favourite, she says, because of the wonderful ambience and a friendly atmosphere and she gets to see folk she has not seen for a year.

Barbara loves porcelain and perfume bottles and has participated in fairs in London, Bath and Berlin but now concentrates on jewellery because it is easier to transport.

Her main joy is in “the find”, such as one in Parys. She entered the “algemene handelaar” and asked if they had any commercial perfume bottles.

“The owner was unpacking the car and walked in with a box of assorted items. Among them were two blue glass bottles. My heart skipped a beat. He wanted R75 for the pair. As I thought, they were stamped Lalique, made in France. I sold them for a princely sum the next day at the Sandton Fair. A memorable find,” says Barbara.

Guests at the Friday VIP event can sip on Beau Constantia Pas de Nom MCC donated by this local wine estate.

Jeremy Astflak, of the Old Corkscrew in Franschhoek, is another regular and this time will have a rare Constantia wine label for sale.

He says wine production was firmly established at farms such as Groot Constantia 333 years ago and by 1806 it was being shipped back to England.

The fashion of the day was to serve wine from glass decanters after it was transferred from the shipping casks.

Identification of the decanter was needed so that guests would appreciate the distance the wine had travelled and its value.

Silver labels were hung around the neck of the decanter and engraved with the name of the wine and sometimes its origin.

This can be seen on the label marked CONST’a the abbreviation for Constantia, made by James Jackson II and hallmarked in London in 1814.

Another decanter label marked for Cape wine, made in London in 1817, is by Thomas & James Phipps II.

For the past 15 years, Alice Mathews, of Old Silver, has been enjoying the camaraderie and friendship of the volunteers who organise the fair, the exhibitors and also the regular collectors and buyers “who support this most worthy cause”. Alice says all her silver is carefully researched so that each item has its exact provenance on the label. “This year, I have several early Georgian pieces with an exceptional heavy brandy pot in perfect condition. I also carry a wide range of collectable items and useful dinner table adornments like cutlery, special spoons, sugar casters, candlesticks, cruet sets and more,” says Alice.

Heleen Bossi, of Paisley’s Antique Jewellery, is based in Stellenbosch and will have a heavy vintage silver Mexican choker on sale.

Other special items include an antique silver angel cameo, a silver filigree festoon necklace and a 15-carat gold Victorian diamond and seed pearl pendant on a 9-carat gold chain.

Heleen travels extensively and sources her items worldwide and loves putting collections together from antique to costume jewellery.

Philippa says the range of antiques this year will be exceptionally varied with something for all tastes and pockets.

There will also be a range of food trucks and coffee and juice stalls.

The VIP event is on Friday August 17, from 6pm to 9pm, entry is R100 and includes wine and canapes.

On Saturday August 18 and Sunday August 19, from 10am to 5pm, entry is R50.

Entry is free for children under 12. For more information, call Bee at 021 794 4393.