Sworders saleroom
Sworders' premises in Stansted Mountfitchet.

The Essex firm had temporarily closed its saleroom in March following the new rules put in place by the government to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, after a full analysis of its operations, the auction house has planned a series of sales for May and June that obey social-distancing rules during lockdown while still meeting the demands of consignors and buyers.

Guy Schooling, chairman at Sworders, said: “It was the socially responsible thing to do to close on March 23. However, the government was thinking of auction houses with a room full of people. We have been cautious and taken into account the views of staff and clients and we can operate remotely very successfully.”

Sworders is finalising plans to hold wine, coin and luxury auctions as timed online sales in May as well as an online-only jewellery sale. It is also planning an Asian art sale and a Modern British and 20th century art sale.

Schooling expects the live online-only auctions will be taken by an auctioneer on the rostrum at Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet, which will be closed to the public, while other staff work remotely operating phonelines, internet bidding and taking payments.

Delivery options are being finalised which will also be contactless.

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Chairman of Sworders Guy Schooling: "We can operate remotely very successfully.”

Sworders is offering an online valuation service for clients to send in photos of items and it will extend this to Zoom and Facetime video calls to view items.

Schooling said the sales in May and June are from items already consigned.

The auction house is not currently taking consignments of new items to its saleroom until later in the year when the UK lockdown is reduced or ended.

Schooling added that he expects a busy autumn as demand increases following the current ‘hiatus’.