Vote for Britain's Favourite Antiques

What is the best antique that has ever come out of the British Isles? Our expert panel has selected 25 of the nation's finest and now it's time to cast your vote! 

CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE!

 

In celebration of Homes & Antiques’ 25th year, we gathered 25 experts from the antiques and interiors industries (and a few of the H&A team) to nominate what they considered to be the finest antiques made in Britain. The remit was simple: choose the best British antique (here, we have stipulated that they must be over 100 years old) and tell us why.

 

The nominations are: 

1.     Arts & Crafts tapestries

Nominated by the Editor of Homes & Antiques, Mel Sherwood.

William Morris' decorative tapestries are iconic, and are a fine way of displaying the rich history of weaving in Britain. 

2.     Arts & Crafts furniture

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and Bonhams' MD, Jon Baddeley.

The furniture of the Arts & Crafts movement championed design integrity and natural materials. 

3.     Country house trompe l’oeil

Nominated by designer, Paul Smith.

Is it a door? Is it a painting? The visual surprises of trompe l'oeil are a staple of British country house design. His favourite example is the all-too-realistic violin hanging on a door at Chatsworth House, painted by Jan van der Vaardt. 

4.     18th and 19th-century chimney pieces

Nominated by antiques dealer and period design expert, Will Fisher.

Although first developed during the Middle Ages to catch drifting smoke, it's the decorative chimney pieces crafted during the 18th and 19th century that caught Fisher's eye. 

5.     Pedestal desks

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and specialist dealer, Lennox Cato

The pedestal desk became the most popular desk for office workers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was also the model for the campaign desk, which the British military took all around the expanding empire. 

6.     James Giles glass

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and owner of Glass Ect, Andy McConnell

'James Giles represents everything that is great about 18th century glass,' says McConnell. The decorator embellished pieces for a who's who list of the day, including Clive of India and the Duke of Marlborough. 

7.     Georgian chandeliers

Nominated by interior designer, Clarissa Hulse

The rigorous apprenticeship system of apprentice glassmakers in the Georgian era meant that Britain's chandeliers became renowned throughout Europe. 

8.     18th-century silverware

Nominated by architect and interior designer, Daniel Hopwood

The British silver industry flourished during the 19th century with the birth of the tea trade, but it was the elegant shape and hand-etched patterns on 18th century pieces that enchanted Hopwood. 

9.     Chippendale furniture

Nominated by the chairman of Christie's UK, Orlando Rock

Thomas Chippendale is to British furniture what William Shakespeare is to British literature. Rock singles out the pieces Chippendale crafted in his mature neoclassical style as some of his finest. 

10.  Windsor chair

Nominated by Homes & Antiques' Editorial & picture assistant, Katy Layton

The Windsor became increasingly popular during the 18th century, when Windsor was a hub for shipping chairs to London.  

11.  18th-century bureaux

Nominated by interior designer, Joanna Wood.

A desk with a shelf space above and drawers below: the bureau is a useful piece. It came to Britain from the continent and notable designs include those by Robert Adam and makers Hepplewhite and Shearer.  

12.  Thomas Toft’s ceramics

Nominated by ceramic artist, Kate Malone

Thomas Toft worked in the Potteries during the 17th century. His work is recognisable from the yellow hue of the slipware and bold designs which range from mermaids and unicorns to King Charles II. 

13.  Regency brown furniture

Nominated by interior designer and cook, Sophie Conran

British furniture-making in the 18th century took on a new refinement, heavily influenced by neoclassical forms.

14.  Welsh dressers

Nominated by Homes & Antiques' Production editor, Rachel Nott

The Welsh dressers is a classic of British vernacular furniture. They were multi-purpose pieces designed for small Welsh cottages and likely date to the 17th century. 

15.  Wedgwood ceramics

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and author, Eric Knowles

One of Britain's best-known potteries, Wedgwood was founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood. 

16.  Chesterfield sofas

Nominated by interior designer, Abigail Ahern

Rolled arms, deep buttons and a low back... the Chesterfield sofa is a welcoming classic. Whilst most early examples would have been upholstered in velvet, the Victorians gave the piece it's leather update, which works so well in modern homes. 

17.  Anglo Saxon metalwork

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and author, Paul Atterbury.

Given the technology of the time, the quality of Anglo Saxon metalwork is astounding. Atterbury picks out the Alfred jewel as a particularly fine example. 

18.  The Crown Jewels

Nominated by the president of BADA, Lady Borwick

The Crown Jewels are among the most famous pieces of British-made jewellery, and Lady Borwick singles out the coronet designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1840-42.

19.  Bow Porcelain figures

Nominated by fashion and interior designer, Matthew Williamson

The Bow Porcelain and Chelsea Porcelain factories rivalled each other in the creation of soft paste porcelain at the height of its production in 1700s. Bow figures are thought to be the earliest full-length porcelain examples to be made in Britain. 

20.  Staffordshire dogs

Nominated by Homes & Antiques' Junior staff writer, Sophie Hannam

Pairs of well-postured china dogs became the domestic fireplace decoration du jour in the Victorian period. Most were modelled on Cavalier King Charles spaniels - the Queen's dog of choice. 

21.  Oyster marquetry

Nominated by furniture designer and maker, John Makepeace

Oyster is a specific form of decorative veneer. Thin layers of cross-sectioned wood are used that show off the wood's natural grain. 

22.  William de Morgan’s ceramics

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and owner of Hand of Glory, Lisa Lloyd

De Morgan was a mainstay of the Arts & Crafts movement and a great friend of William Morris. His Iznik-style ceramics are unmistakable. 

23.  18th and 19th-century satirical prints

Nominated by Antiques Roadshow expert and author, Marc Allum

Caricaturing came to Britain from Italy in the 18th century, care of the Grand Tours. Barely a royal, aristocrat, politician or foreign enemy was spared of the satirist's pen. 

24.  Coade stone

Nominated by furniture designer, Tim Gosling

Coade was the first marketed 'artificial stone' in the 1770s. It was extremely hard-wearing and was in fact a ceramic made durable by its secret recipe of clay, terracotta, glass and silicates fired for four days at a time. 

25.  Archibald Knox’s silverware 

Nominated by industrial designer, Ross Lovegrove

Knox was one of the most prolific and well-known designers for Liberty & Co during the early 1900s, when the department store was enjoying its greatest success. 

 

Expert insight is fascinating but we want your input too. We invite you to choose your favourite piece of the 25 nominated here. Vote in our online poll by clicking the link below before 3rd May and we will announce the winner in a few months’ time. Please do bear in mind that the nominations on the voting page may appear in a different order.

 

CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE! 

 

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