Kya deLongchamps gives us new ideas for boot sales beauties to look out for, as the collection season kicks off.

WHEN wandering the heavy, sucking mud of a boot sale or mining the mixed lots on your hands and knees at auction viewings, some things will all but wave to you. 

It’s a shape, a colour, a lively difference from the garage ballast, cracked toys and reproduction rubbish. 

Follow your instincts, and keep an eye open for these groupings of interesting cast-offs.

Picquotware c1946 and made in England through the 1950s and ’60s is one of these fatefully orphaned things, treasured in the mid-century by legions of proud housewives, but now scattered by fortune.

What stands out immediately in these organic, gorgeous tea/coffee sets are the bold modernist architectural curves in the grasp of solid sycamore, harp shaped handles, with an eyebrow of timber set to tease up hot lids.

Made in magnalium in a single casting, it’s a solid alloy of aluminium/magnesium rather than plated metal, and a standard set stamped as ‘Newmaid’ or ‘PicquotWare’ might include a tea pot, a coffee pot, a hot water pot and a jug and creamer with a dedicated tray featuring a laminate centre.

The four cup tea pot is a stunner with clear Scandinavian intent, and instantly more desirable in shape to the squatter six cup version.

The original advertising by makers Burrage & Boyd of Northampton (1932-1980), whose first boast was a non electric vacuum cleaner, proudly declared that Picquotware was made to ‘last a lifetime’ and it is still often in perfect condition with just light surface scratching.

Wash it carefully in hot soapy water, avoiding immersing wooden elements and shine up with a dedicated silver polish to the exterior only. Full sets rarely cost more than €40 in the open air, but expect to pay in the area of €100 on Ebay.

Digital mobile call making is 25 years old this year. What a difference a quarter of a century has made on our lives? 

I am a proud member of the ‘dumb phone revolution’ carrying a retro- styled and tiny, frill-free mobile . You might not think an old, but operable, mobile phone would be worth anything, but let me ring your bell.

A large Whitefriars Banjo vase by Geoffrey Baxter in amythyst, c1970, resale value at specialist auction €400-€600.
A large Whitefriars Banjo vase by Geoffrey Baxter in amythyst, c1970, resale value at specialist auction €400-€600.

There are rare, low production, pioneering pieces of electronics worth looking out for. 

No, you will never croon over plastic clams and bricks with stubby aerials, but for nerdish online buyers, there is some small potential profit and a source of amusement in the target-rich environment at boot sales and charity shops.

The really early phones are treasures. The Mobira Senator 1981 made by Nokia and its partner companies, is worth as much as €1,500. 

This is a top buy and the size of a coal scuttle with its handset and mounting intended for a car or a servant to walk by your side.

More probable for sale or purchase are Nokias and Motorollas from the 1990s and early ’00s, including the 1011, the first true Nokia hand held GSM.

I found the iconic Motorolla Razr flip phone and a Nokia 8110 in a drawer, the latter made famous in The Matrix in the hands of Keanu Reeves.

The 8110 together with the Nokia 710 can be resold in the area of €100 to an enthusiast vying with another bidder in an online auction. 

This site, written and maintained by art/design writer Steven Braggs is a super resource for the pricing, history and appeal of various models.

Values can be erratic and this is a very volatile market, so have fun looking, but hang up before venturing significant money.

Nineteen-seventies studio glass, a staple of second hand shops for decades is quietly gathering speed, so buy now.

Mdina glass from Malta, especially any pieces attached to the designs of British maker Michael Harris, was bought in the thousands during the heady days of the first overseas package holidays. 

Early pieces from the late ’60s do turn up and fabulous Onions with Harris’ signature may be out there for the taking.

Another lesser known name, Karlin Rushbrooke, was an early pioneer in modernist glass, setting up a small studio and furnace in the late ’60s. His past and present work is exceptional and should be signed.

Take a look at his new work from the €75 mark. The iconic Whitefriars Studio Range began with 15 types of vase in 1969, and you can find a description to crispen your eye at

It’s a gnarled heavy hand-made glass that grew invisible through over familiarity but is now red hot.

Popular pieces, like the Zig Zag and the Drunken Bricklayer, that once sold for a few pence at bring ’n’ buys, are now reaching €200-€500 with fevered collectors.

Condition is everything — no chips, no cracks, no fleabites, but some minimal signs of ware to a base is acceptable. Keep any surviving stickers.


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