A painting of a sale at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers, Aylsham by artist Ronald Symons. The oil on board was offered at Keys in 2015.

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The business is now in the hands of members of the senior management team, after a buy-out led by fine art director Kevin Lines and new managing director David Broom, with assistance from the Key family which owns the firm’s five-acre site in Aylsham.

As part of the deal, a programme of investment has been agreed to secure the long-term future of the firm on the edge of the market town.

Nigel Ducker (silver and jewellery) and Tracey Rust-Andrews (accounts) are also part of the senior management team.

‘Split made in heaven’

Following a merger between estate agencies in 2012, Keys Fine Art Auctioneers became part of the Norwich-based property services group Arnolds Keys.

The sale follows the retirement of two of Arnolds Keys’ partners and what Broom told ATG was “a split made in heaven” with both parties keen to separate. “There is some of the old synergy between the chattels and the property business in terms of the sale of household effects but with the growth in the online-selling sphere there is increased divergence.”


Last sold in 2015, this Lowestoft porcelain mug inscribed 'John Elden Carpenter at Colthorp' [sic] carries an estimate of £6000-8000 at Keys in March. Elden (1714-18) is buried in the churchyard at Calthorpe in north Norfolk.

While Keys continues to hold the weekly Monday ‘country sales’ that remain a Norfolk institution, the 2019 calendar of over 80 sales includes a trio of ‘fine’ sales plus events based on East Anglian art and antiques and 20th century design.

What Broom described as a nationally important collection of Nelson memorabilia will be sold by the firm in the summer.

New specialist departments are planned for the near future, including toys, musical instruments and architectural salvage.


An old advertising sign for Keys Fine Art Auctioneers, Aylsham.

Lines – whose father joined the firm in 1955 and added antique sales during the 1960s – said: “We are excited to take the helm at a successful time for Keys, with the continuing development of our flagship fine sales focusing on high value antiques as well as our traditional business.

“The relationship with the family of the firm’s founder means that we can continue to expand on the same site for many years to come.”