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Art and antiques news from 2003

In 2003 the Antique Collectors' Club annual index showed house price gains outstripping antique furniture for the first time in 34 years - a sign of things to come as prices brown furniture began to fall.

In the same year Leslie Hindman reopened her eponymous auction house in Chicago - six years after selling her business to Sotheby’s - and Antiques Trade Gazette was voted Special Interest Newspaper of the Year at the Newspaper Awards.

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Beswick rides high in the Potteries

27 December 2003

Prior to the sale of two record-breaking lots of Beswick at Bonhams’ October 28 sale – a colour trial Galloway Bull (£8800) and the Spirit of Whitfield (£9500) – the auction record for Beswick could well have been the £3500 paid for this rare figure at Potteries Specialist Auctions on October 22.

An Irish heroine leaves her home

18 December 2003

IN common with a number of recent Irish house sales, Christie’s/Hamilton Osborne King’s (19.5% buyer’s premium) November 25 on-the-premises sale of the contents of Lissadell House, Ballinfull, County Sligo, had more than a touch of controversy.

Historic links to the family

18 December 2003

BY family tradition, this pair of steel handcuffs, right, were used to shackle Lissadell’s best known inhabitant, Constance Gore-Booth (then Countess Markievicz) shortly after her prominent role in the 1916 rebellion. Having fought with the insurgents, she was imprisoned as Dublin came under military rule and an effort was made to execute her for both treason and murder for her part in the action at The College of Surgeons, Saint Stephens Green.

Stourbridge auctioneers enjoy first trip to toytown

18 December 2003

There were several toy sales in the Midlands in late October, including on October 25 a 500-lot sale conducted by Fieldings (12.5% buyer’s premium) in the oak-panelled Great Hall of Old Swinford Hospital School in Stourbridge.

Lissadell House gasoliers prove alegal technicality

18 December 2003

A MATTER of days before the Christie's and Hamilton Osbourne King sale on 25 November, Lissadell House regained some of its most spectacular furnishings – although it probably cost Christie’s and HOK more than €200,000 (£140,000) in additional revenue.

Valour revalued

18 December 2003

The date of November 5 seemed apt for Spink’s (17.65% buyer’s premium) 623-lot sale of Orders, Decorations Campaign Medals and Militaria (ODM), the fireworks of Guy Fawkes Day recalling the whizz-bangs and crashes of wartime when many of these medals were won. Some of these bangs and crashes left themselves to metaphor, as records were falling all over the place.

The great bird flies again – at auction

16 December 2003

TWO nations, two auctions, one plane. The French and English charity auctions of Concorde parts and memorabilia, held by Christie’s and Bonhams in Paris and London respectively, both attracted audiences of over 1000 and passed off as complete sell-outs, with no shortage of estimate-crushing prices for components and souvenirs from the now retired iconic aeroplane.

French and English coolers reunited

16 December 2003

A very clear indication of the cachet attached to pre Revolutionary French silver, especially if it is a cutting-edge design by a maker of quality, was illustrated by the two pairs of 18th century wine coolers pictured here, which were the star attractions at Sotheby’s on November 20.

The fruit of Frederick Poke’s collecting

16 December 2003

A sizeable slice, almost a quarter of Sotheby’s sale on 20 November, was provided by one consignment, the 48 lots of silver and silver-gilt from the collection of the late Frederick Poke, an old school collector whose catholic tastes also included English furniture, Old Masters and Impressionist paintings.

15th century parcel-gilt and silvered bronze roundel

16 December 2003

The object on which the keenest attention in the works of art world was focused this month was this 161/2in (42cm) diameter, 15th century parcel-gilt and silvered bronze roundel depicting Mars, Venus, Cupid and Vulcan.

At £700,000, it’s nothing to sniff at…

16 December 2003

While Sotheby’s incorporated their best objects of vertu into their silver sale on November 20, Christie’s offered theirs in tandem with portrait miniatures in a 264-lot sale the following month on December 9. The vertu side of the sale performed particularly well, with hardly any failures, most of the 55 unsold lots coming from the miniatures.

Sotheby’s commit to maintaining two London salerooms

15 December 2003

SOTHEBY’S chief executive Robin Woodhead has confirmed that whatever happens with the casino plans at Olympia, his company are committed to maintaining two salerooms in London. He made the pledge during an in-depth interview with the Antiques Trade Gazette in which he also explained that flexibility over staffing and the running of sales were key to future success.

Brightwells on the move

15 December 2003

UK: Brightwells are moving their operations from Ryelands Road in Leominster to a new and purpose-built building at Easters Court, at the northern end of the A49 bypass. The new building is nearly three times the size of the present premises where space had become a problem.

Chalet girls clean up afterPooh sale

11 December 2003

A DRAWING by E.H. Shepard of Winnie the Pooh playing a balalaika raised bidding on a third edition of The House at Pooh Corner to £7000 in the Greenslade Taylor Hunt sale of November 13 – and although nothing else in the 825-lot Taunton catalogue came remotely close to that in financial terms, a few other lots deserve mention.

London trade join New Yorkers’ move upmarket

11 December 2003

THE veteran New York firm of fair organisers Wendy Management, a family firm who started putting shows together in 1934, are going rapidly upmarket, and they are taking some well-known European dealers with them.

Arsenic on old plates

11 December 2003

The technique of Limoges enamelling, imitated by a number of historically-minded potteries in the second half of the 19th century, was championed at Worcester by Thomas Bott and then by his son Thomas John Bott.

Cornish confidence

11 December 2003

LAST week, after two years of renovations, Judith and Phil Carrigan officially opened their Uzella Court Antiques Centre and Fine Art in the centre of Lostwithiel, Cornwall. The centre is housed in a partly medieval building which has been a shop of one sort or another – most recently a butcher’s – since 1850.

Making Battersea bow, intent on ‘wow’

11 December 2003

The Art Deco Fair at Battersea Old Town Hall in South London is to have a new lease of life now ownership has passed to Nottingham-based Nick Cox of Abbey Fairs from Welsh-based organiser Anne Zierold. Abbey host their first Battersea fair on February 15 and Nick, who organises four other Deco events, promises some drastic changes “to bring the fair into the 21st century”.

Windows of opportunity

11 December 2003

Stained glass, such a pre-occupation of the Victorians from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Aesthetics and the Arts and Crafts movement, has been something of a Cinderella among collectors for the best part of a century. Now, while the lovely and neglected Cinders may not exactly be the belle of the ball, interest in, and prices for, the medium are creeping up.

High society home

11 December 2003

Although catalogued in 32 lots, it was the vendor’s wishes that this early 19th century doll’s house and associated doll’s house furniture should first be offered as a single lot with an estimate of £4000-6000 when they came under the hammer of Netherhampton Salerooms (12.5% buyer’s premium) on November 5.