Regarded by many as a bellweather for the fortunes of a traditional market in today’s straitened economic conditions, it probably explains the very large turnout of London furniture trade for the 178-lot offering.
Certainly they were looking to buy, but also to monitor for their own information how the English furniture market was performing.
A stock sale, even stock from two such legendary trade sources, might have struggled, but several factors came into play to make sure that it did not. Judicious estimation, extensive pre-sale marketing, plus the draw of the dealers’ own names and some of the prestigious earlier provenances of pieces they were selling, ensured that all bar 27 lots found buyers.
The sale realised a net total of just over £3.6m against pre-sale predictions of £4m.
Prices weren’t always up to estimates and they, in turn, were sometimes set below the levels paid for some of the higher profile lots, but in what one major trade name described as “a buyer’s market”, at least there were buyers to be found.
There was certainly participation from the room and activity from the trade, albeit often as underbidders, but in the event most of the buying was done over the telephone.
Christie’s had around 20 staff on hand to field calls, predominantly by private purchasers from across the globe.
As expected, the day’s top price went to The Cusworth Suite, a set of eight needlework upholstered mahogany dining chairs probably made under the direction of the architect James Paine for Cusworth Hall, Yorkshire c.1755-65. They found a buyer just under the low end of their £500,000-800,000 estimate at £420,000 (plus premium), going in the room to a buyer described as a UK advisor, who made several purchases at the sale.
By Anne Crane