THE Arctic weather that struck the UK last week caused severe disruption during one of the busiest periods in the calendar for the art and antiques trade.
Staying open and ready for sales has tested the ingenuity and determination of dealers and auctioneers across the country.
The regions that were worst hit - Scotland, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and South East England - saw the cancellation and rescheduling of numerous fairs and auctions.
Border Auctions, at Hawick on the Scottish borders, had to postpone their Antiques & Collectables sale on December 4, with the auction house reporting up to 14 inches of snow in places. In Sheffield, fine art and antique auctioneers AE Dowse & Son made the difficult call to postpone their auction for the first time ever after the city witnessed the heaviest snowfall since records began. Both sales will now take place on December 11.
Despite the adverse conditions, other salerooms remained determinedly open, with many auctions going ahead. Calde Valley Auctioneers in West Yorkshire had to leave an automated telephone message explaining that their weekend sale would proceed, although no one could get in to attend the telephones during the week.
In Glasgow, Great Western Auctions benefitted from increased phone bids and commissions and were hoping for a good attendance as the saleroom is close to main roads. Thomson Roddick Scottish Auctions of Edinburgh had a busy few days clearing snow before their double auction last Thursday could take place. After the morning session, they said: "The turnout was good and the sale was a great success, we had four very busy phone lines and a record number of commissions."
Even areas without snow were affected by the intense cold. Welsh auction house Roger Jones & Co of Colwyn Bay reported to ATG that very low temperatures had forced them to use more heaters in their saleroom. Unfortunately, during the 555-lot auction the fuse tripped, causing a power failure. The auctioneers opened a tab at the café across the road for those attending, while they dealt with the problem, and were able to resume the sale an hour or so later.
Readers planning to attend fairs and auctions are advised to check that the events are going ahead as planned before setting out.
By Gabriel Berner