three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


An interview with
michael flatter

Michael Flatter and his wife Liz are regular exhibitors at the glass fairs and have kindly agreed to be interviewed for the website.

Vic Bamforth
Michael Flatter

When and how did you become interested in glass ?

My wife Liz & I have been selling at antique and collector’s fairs now for 8 years. We started by wanting to please everyone by selling a very mixed bag of goods, but over a period of time realised that we were selling mostly glass, and good studio glass at that. So we diversified, and now try to have a good eclectic mix of signed and unsigned glass from all over the world. Luckily we have our regular buyers, who we do try to accommodate with pieces from the glass blowers they collect, and sometimes can encourage them to try a piece from someone new.

What sort of glass do you collect personally, if any?

We have recently moved home to a flat so our collecting days are now limited, but we do have a fantastic piece of Kosta, which is a one-off, sitting on our sideboard, and although like nothing else we have seen, we love the funky modernity of it.

Do you have collections of anything other than glass?

We used to collect Carlton Ware and had done so for 30 years but, since moving, we have reduced our pieces to one very special piece: a black and white dog, which is highly collected and we could never part with. The rest went to auction before we moved, as the collection as it stood would have filled every last space in our new home.

Are there any particular styles, periods or designers that inspire you more than others?

We like to keep a very mixed array of glass available for sale. Just over a year ago we met Adam Aaronson at a fair and he was impressed by our selection of studio glass, and after much discussion, he asked if we would represent him as retailers of his glass at fairs as he no longer had the time to go himself. This arrangement works well for both of us, as we expose Adam's work to many more customers all around the country wherever we attend fairs.

We tend to buy what we like and would have in our own home as that way we can enthuse about it to our customers. Our latest purchases are hollow-stemmed art deco champagne glasses, which are a wonderful addition to our stock - and we fill just one with red or rose wine to show off the ingenuity of these brilliant glasses.

Which are the best and worst aspects of being an exhibitor?

The worst aspect of being a dealer is the distance we sometimes have to cover to get to fairs, and of course the hours we are putting in with our travel, the hours at the fairs and then our journey home.
The best aspect is, once set up, taking a step back to admire what we have. Glass is a wonderful medium, which changes in all different lights, natural and artificial; we have also made many friends: other dealers, suppliers, organisers, and customers alike.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you started dealing in glass?

Buy what you like; it makes such a difference. If you like it, it is half the battle of selling it

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you collecting glass?

Again, buy with your eye, not your heart. We see glass as sculptural, and there is nothing better than to go into your home after buying a piece of glass and saying 'WOW! I love it, and I am so happy that I bought it'.