WHILE children celebrated as schools shut down across the country, the reaction of the art and antiques trade to the heavy snow that swept over Britain last week was largely less exuberant.
A number of auctions in England were cancelled as a result of
weather conditions unseen for a decade. Sales from Yorkshire and
County Durham in the North to Surrey and West Sussex in the South
have had to be rescheduled.
The industry is now hoping that further snow forecast for this
coming week will not lead to any more disruption to the sales
However, business carried on unaffected for many and one auction
house in the provinces - Duke's of Dorchester - even said that
their sale was better attended as buyers hoped to grab a bargain
thinking their rivals would not be able to attend.
The heaviest fall of snow in the South of England for 18 years
meant that some buyers were unable to make the viewings of the
London flagship sales of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby's
and Christie's last Monday. But as the snow melted over the course
of the week, the auctions went ahead without any noticeable
However, dealers exhibiting at the Watercolours &
Drawings Fair, which opened in Covent Garden on February 4,
did report fewer visitors, citing the snow as a factor. The Newark
fair in Nottinghamshire which opened the day after was also hit by
the snow. Those travelling on the M1 faced long delays, while
outside stalls at the event had to be abandonned.
In the North and the West, a number of salerooms said they were
determined to press ahead after being hit by a second fall of snow
in the latter part of the week.
Despite waking up to 8in (20cm) of snow on February 5 - the
biggest fall in the country that day - the majority of staff at
Cirencester's Moore Allen & Innocent made it into work, one of
whom told ATG: "We're made of hardy stuff in Gloucestershire."
They were not anticipating having to reschedule their sporting
sale due to take place the following day, although they had
considered delaying the start because of the hazardous conditions
on the roads.
After more snow falling on the morning of the sale itself, Moore
Allen auctioneer Philip Allwood said: "A few people have made it
in, but we have plenty of commissions and telephone bids - enough
for the auction to work."
They even decided to raise the estimate on a 1950s wooden sledge
from £50-80 to £80-120 after it generated extra interest at the
viewing. It finally was knocked down at £90.
In Scotland, McTears auctioneers said they were going ahead with
their sale on February 5, although forecasters were warning of more
heavy downfalls. Flights at nearby Glasgow airport had been
cancelled through the week, but the saleroom reported that the snow
had largely receded by Thursday.
Other changes resulting from adverse weather conditions last
week include the following:
• T. Vennett Smith, of Gotham Nottinghamshire (0115 983 0541)
postponed their February 3 sale of beer labels, ephemera and
postcards until the 10th and their February 4 sale of cigarette and
trade cards & matchboxes until the 11th.
• John Nicholsons of Fernhurst, West Sussex, (01428 653727) have
postponed their fine art sale of February 18-19 until the 25th and
• ELR Auctions of Sheffield, (0114 281 6161) have rescheduled
their February 6 sale for the 13th.
• Holloways of Banbury (01295 817777) have cancelled their
February 10 general sale. Their next sale will be the general sale
scheduled for February 24.
• Addisons of Barnard Castle, County Durham (01833 690545) have
postponed their sale by two weeks to Saturday, March 14.
Forecasts were coming through of more bad weather for this week,
so those wishing to attend auctions should check with the auction
house that sales are going ahead as planned before travelling.
By Alex Capon
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