The auction process is a key part of the secondary art and antiques market.

Firms of auctioneers usually specialise in a number of fields such as jewellery, ceramics, paintings, Asian art or coins but many also hold general sales where the goods available are not defined by a particular genre and are usually lower in value.

Auctioneers often provide other services such as probate and insurance valuations.

Great names from the golden age

08 January 2004

Over recent years the market for classic railway engine nameplates has shown itself to be as solid and reliable as the great engines they once adorned. It is 40 years since the Beeching Report condemned a third of the British rail network to the axe and effectively ended the glorious age of steam, but even then there were enthusiasts who cared enough to preserve what they could.

Drinking with the Beggar’s Benison

08 January 2004

One of the unforeseen consequences of the arrival of Enlightenment philosophy in Puritan Scotland was the creation of clubs and societies that encouraged exuberant and outrageous behaviour in their members. The best known is the Beggar’s Benison.

Women’s Social and Political Union medal

08 January 2004

This Women’s Social and Political Union medal for valour was awarded to Mary Richardson, the Canadian-born militant suffragette who, in protest at the re-arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst in March 1914, slashed the ‘Rokeby’ Venus with an axe at the National Gallery.

Big provincial auction houses do well in 2003

05 January 2004

Despite a year that saw substantial declines in brown furniture prices and a tailing off in the demand for general silver, most of the UK’s top provincial auctioneers held steady in a difficult market.

Cotswold auction deal

05 January 2004

UK: Fraser Glennie Fine Arts, the auction arm of the Circencester-based surveyors and estate agents, are to join the Cotswold Auction Company.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.