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.

‘French’ cabinet proves to be Anglo-Dutch rarity

14 January 2003

One of the most unusual and interesting pieces in Sotheby’s December 11 sale of Continental furniture was the 19th century English boulle cabinet shown right set with a rare 17th century Dutch mother-of-pearl and hardstone inlaid panel depicting a Vanitas subject.

Breton’s £20m collection for sale in Paris

14 January 2003

One of the 2003 saleroom highlights in Paris promises to be the auction of the Collection of André Breton (1896-1966). The 5000-lot collection, consigned by Breton’s daughter and granddaughter, is expected to bring around £20m and will be sold in 24 sessions under the Calmels-Cohen hammer at Drouot from April 1-18.

Polishing off a sparkling career

14 January 2003

Peter Waldron, senior silver expert and senior director of Sotheby’s Europe, retired at the end of last year after a 36-year career with the company and 29 years at the rostrum.

Steiff’s rare ersatz ursine sells at £8000

14 January 2003

Full militarisation of a collapsing German economy towards the end of the First World War resulted in the country’s famous toy makers struggling for raw materials. Richard Steiff, director of the eponymous bear factory, was forced to find an alternative fabric to mohair, an unobtainable luxury, so that production could continue in 1919.

‘Instructions to Mothers on the... Cutting of Teeth in Children’

10 January 2003

Seen here are two lots from the Ronald A. Cohen collection of Books, Prints and Objects illustrative of the History of Dentistry and Teeth, a 674-lot sale held by Bonhams on December 10.

Seeking enlightenment on lamp

09 January 2003

One of the more mysterious objects at Lyon and Turnbull’s (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) decorative arts sale in Edinburgh on November 6 was this Art Nouveau pewter table lamp. Auctioneer John Mackie could not comment on why the futuristic design, measuring 2ft (60.5cm) high and apparantly unmarked, should have eclipsed a forecast of £300-500 and reached £6500.

El Greco studies – small is not so beautiful

09 January 2003

In an Old Master week when major-name masterworks were in short supply, the appearance of two of only four known drawings by El Greco (1541-1614) at Bonhams’ (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) December 9 Old Master Drawings sale understandably attracted plenty of attention.

Bonnie Prince Charlie to the rescue

09 January 2003

CHESHIRE auctioneers Peter Wilson, (15% buyer’s premium) found it hard going at their November 27-28 sale at Nantwich with only 60 per cent of the 720 lots getting away – but where obvious quality was on offer, bidders were keen enough.

Astbury-type dragoons make £10,000

08 January 2003

Ceramics: November/December saw a whole slew of ceramics sales take place in the London rooms either devoted entirely to British or to Continental material or a mix of the two. One of the last to take place was Bonhams’ indigenous selection offered in their Bond Street rooms on December 11.

Picasso helps Balzac to a record price

08 January 2003

Sotheby’s claimed a world record price for a printed French book on December 5 when a 1931 edition of Balzac’s Le Chef d’Oeuvre Inconnu, illustrated by Picasso, sold just short of estimate for €550,000 (£353,000).

Now Baddeley joins Bonhams as director

08 January 2003

BONHAMS have appointed Jon Baddeley, pictured right, to the new role of group head of the Collectors’ department with effect from Monday, February 3.

Gart der Gesundheit

08 January 2003

The Gart der Gesundheit is one of the giants in the field. The most important herbal of the 15th century, it contained the finest illustrations of the incunable period and was unsurpassed until the appearance of the first edition of the Brunfels herbal in 1530.

Thomas Webb vase sells to a private buyer for £95,000

08 January 2003

19th century cameo glass was the strong suit in Sotheby’s sale of European glass from the Hida Takayama Museum of Art in Japan, held in their Bond Street rooms on December 19. Amongst a number of pieces that were particularly keenly contested by the room and the telephones was this 16in (41cm) high Thomas Webb vase which sold to a private buyer for £95,000 (plus 19.5/10% premium) after bidding first from the room then a battle between two telephones.

Louis XVI console desserte makes £2.4m

08 January 2003

Continental Furniture: Christie’s offered a concentration of furnishings from Continental Europe on December 12, kicking off with a select 114-lot, separately catalogued morning session devoted entirely to French furniture, with a larger 240-odd lots drawn from across the European spectrum in the afternoon.

Reflections on a Glasgow mirror at ten times estimate

08 January 2003

Unsigned Arts & Crafts metalwork has lately been getting the sort of high prices normally reserved for attributable material and this copper-mounted mirror, right, was no exception – the sleeper of Bonhams’ (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) sale of Decorative Arts at Glasgow School of Arts on November 28.

Sale of Jim Barron’s collection of British Cameras

08 January 2003

Cameras: A 100 per cent sell-out is something to crow about these days and Christie’s South Kensington were certainly pleased to chalk up a complete success for their sale of Jim Barron’s collection of British Cameras on December 11.

Luke strikes it lucky at €43,000

08 January 2003

Tajan, who have made cartoons and comic strips into a saleroom speciality, claimed a saleroom first on November 30: a pioneering opportunity for fans of Lucky Luke, the self-styled “poor lonesome cowboy”, to buy an original plate by his artist Morris.

Seeger out takes

08 January 2003

Another instalment from the holdings of well-known collector Stanley J. Seeger went under the hammer at Sotheby’s Olympia rooms on December 13. This 352-lot offering, subtitled Out Takes, was a particularly eclectic selection, ranging from contemporary Venetian glass and tribal art to Middle Eastern pottery and Victorian chaises longues.

Terracotta bust of the Virgin and Child makes £3m

08 January 2003

European Works of Art: There was no real surprise about the star lot in Sotheby’s December 10 works of art sale. The piece that attracted plenty of attention at the pre-sale viewing and made far and away the highest price in the 177-lot gathering was this c.1520-25 terracotta bust of the Virgin and Child by Il Riccio, which, at £3m, singlehandedly accounted for two thirds of the auction’s entire £4.47m total.

Trains and planes and Guinness

08 January 2003

Patrick Bogue has been holding successful poster sales at specialist collectables auctioneers Onslows since 1984 and his latest was a reminder that Christie’s South Kensington do not have a monopoly on this active market.