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A life in antiques - Love is in the air

PUBLISHED: 18:21 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

This ladies' dressing box would certainly make a very original gift for Valentine's Day

This ladies' dressing box would certainly make a very original gift for Valentine's Day

The owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham finds herself coming over all romantic this month

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2009

The owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham finds herself coming over all romantic this month








Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place







It is a strange thing, very unnecessary and totally irrational, but every year it happens to me... When Valentine's Day comes around, I seem to revert back to childhood and find myself secretly hoping that I will receive a sackful of cards, endless bunches of roses and maybe a few love letters from distant secret admirers!

Every year, I hear the tuneful noise of the postman arriving at my home and anticipate a loud knock at the door due to the sackful of post simply too large to go through one little letterbox! Every year, the door fails to knock and, if I am lucky, a single card may fall on the doormat; some years from my mum, other years from my oldest friend (if she remembers our pact at the age of 15 to always send a card to each other) and occasionally from my current beau or would-be suitor!

As the years go on, this pattern continues and I still look forward to the day when I do come home to a house filled to the brim with huge bunches of flowers! Never one known for being materialistic, this illusion I have built up in my head is totally over the top, but nonetheless I think quite a common trait in the females among us!

Affairs of the heart

One way or another, Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show loved ones just how much you care and I have been struck over the past few years at how many male customers are now actively approaching us to help them find a truly original present. I find this quite endearing, as you can no doubt imagine, and find myself going out of my way to help them source really unique and personal gifts, as I know how much I would appreciate it if this was being done for me.

Last year, we were delighted to find a mid-Victorian gentleman's travel box around this charmed month, and this year, to our excitement, we have sourced a ladies' dressing box, which is simply stunning.

The casing is made from ebony and amboyna (an exotic and expensive wood imported from Africa and used only on finely handcrafted pieces) and the silver hallmarked lids of the cut glass perfume bottles, pots and jars are dated 1877. Each piece of silver has had the original recipient's monogram beautifully engraved on to it. There is an integral jewellery drawer, a removable dressing mirror and a hidden correspondence pouch to use for treasured love letters.

It is a very special piece and will, I'm sure, have pride of place on one very lucky lady's dressing table. I love the mystery and intrigue that surrounds old pieces and I hope very much that this gem of gorgeousness finds a permanent place in the heart of its new owner; and, indeed, in that of future generations to come. Enjoy your Valentine's Day, as I will mine!







Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place






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