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.

Bonhams total $304m in 2002

28 January 2003

JUST as Phillips announce their cutbacks, Bonhams have unveiled annual sales for 2002 of $304m. This announcement completes Bonhams’ first full year of trading after the November 2001 merger in which they combined with the UK interests of Phillips Son and Neale.

US dealer awakes a Suffolk sleeper

28 January 2003

Sleepers are something of an endangered species at UK picture sales, but this small 6 by 5in (15.5 x 12.5cm) oil on board still life, right, by the Danish/American painter Emil Carlsen (1853-1932) certainly made the room sit up when it sold to a US dealer on the telephone at £17,500 against an estimate of just £1000-1500 at the Atheneum Sale in Bury St. Edmunds held by Bonhams’ (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) on December 17.

Return to the nursery with Attwell’s easel

21 January 2003

The easel that was used to create some of the most celebrated nursery images of the 20th century will be going under the hammer later on this month.

Did D’Amboise ever get to see Jean Froissart’s costly Chronicles

21 January 2003

FILLED with nearly 200 dazzling images of battles, knights, damsels in distress, tournaments, and castles that represent the finest work of the Rouen illuminators of the early Renaissance and captures all the pageantry and drama of the Hundred Years’ War, the extraordinarily fresh illuminated manuscript of Froissart’s Chronicles that sold for £2.75m at Sotheby’s on December 3 must have been the finest and most profusely illustrated manuscript of that famous work ever made.

Perryville revisited for bargains

21 January 2003

A 1467 second edition of the second part of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae, a massive treatise on moral rather than dogmatic theology that stands as an independent work, was one of the earlier printed highlights of a $4.69m (£2.97m) sale held by Sotheby’s New York on December 13, and once again it was one of a number of lots making a rapid return to the rooms.

An amateur’s gift was precious after all

20 January 2003

ON December 10 Cambridge auctioneers Cheffins (15% buyer’s premium) offered the residual contents from the home of amateur painter and gallery owner Olive Cook, whose early friendships with Henry Moore and Eric Ravilious helped hone her artistic eye.

When it comes to watches…

20 January 2003

High quality watches are still in demand but condition is all-important to today’s discerning collectors. At a sale devoted entirely to watches at Christie’s King Street back on November 26, this gold chronograph pocket watch, right, by Louis Audemars c.1870 took £40,000.

The value of royalty in a £3100 box

20 January 2003

Despite the recent media interest in the routine sale of Royal gifts through household staff and approved dealers, the practice of flogging Crown chattels is nothing new. More official and intimate material of royal provenance has buoyed the market for decades, if not centuries.

Arts and Crafts lighten silver woes

20 January 2003

THE sad plight of silver is as well known as the boom in all Arts and Crafts pieces – what happens when the two come together was the question at Sworders’ sale when this pair of plated candlesticks, right, were offered.

Christie’s revamp decorative arts policy

20 January 2003

CHRISTIE’S have unveiled some major changes for their 20th century decorative arts policy in Europe. The auction house have closed their King Street department and are concentrating all their London activities in decorative arts at South Kensington. They also want to develop and raise the profile of this field in France with regular dedicated auctions in Paris under specialist Sonja Ganne.

Pressing paper into service

16 January 2003

Contemporary Decorative Arts, Sotheby’s annual showcase for new craft and design, gets underway for its seventh successive showing next month. For a week from February 13-21, the Bond Street rooms will be given over to the latest in furniture, lighting, ceramics, jewellery, glass, silver and textiles by over 50 designers from round the world, all for sale.

Beano, Beezer and a futuristic comic that is now recent history

16 January 2003

THE VERY rare copy of the first Beano comic of 1938 that sold for an auction record sum of £6875 in the December 3 Comic Book Postal Auctions sale was featured on the front page of Antiques Trade Gazette No. 1568 and can also be seen in the selection of lots illustrated right.

Of academic London

16 January 2003

One of the most significant and comprehensive sales of Victorian paintings for some time is to take place next month when The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures and Works of Art goes under the hammer at Christie’s King Street. The sale of more than 350 lots comprises almost the entire collection, which was assembled over three decades by one man, Christopher Forbes, of the well-known American publishing family, and was housed until now at Old Battersea House.

‘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.

Lost Renoir sketch discovered in vault

14 January 2003

A watercolour drawing by Renoir and inscribed by Emile Zola has been discovered by Bonhams in the vault of London diamond merchants I. Hennig & Co. The c.1877 drawing had been lost for almost 20 years and is thought to be one of the few recorded works by Renoir intended for book illustration.

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.

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.

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.

‘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.

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.