Christmas 2018 and New Year

Published 24th December 2018

True Humility

Please note that we will be closing on the afternoon of Friday, 21st December 2018 and will not reopen until 9.00am on Wednesday, 2nd January 2019.

Those of you that would like a glossy 2019 calendar illustrated with the past year's sale highlights, please feel free to pop into our Exeter salesrooms to collect one, but hurry they are going fast.

Many of you are probably aware of the idiom of the 'curates egg', first used in an 1895 Punch cartoon. It describes something that has both good and indifferent parts and that rather neatly describes an average year for most auctioneers, considering the current political climate. The year got off to a somewhat gilded start with our January Fine Sale producing some very healthy jewellery results that included a diamond jabot pin (FS37/485) at £17,500 and a scarce Rolex (FS37/397) at £12,000 as well as benefiting from the Flowerday Collection of English Porcelain. This was closely followed by our inaugural 20th Century and Contemporary Sale, which produced some encouraging and substantial results.

We are happy that we now have a varied sale calendar that caters for a broad range of buyers and collectors, so whilst the middle part of the year saw a dip in activity, the Antiquarian Book Sales, Maritime and Collectors Sales took up the slack and produced a pleasing array of new bidders and good prices.

Worthy of note were a manuscript poem by Emily Trevenner (BK19/20) from the Coleridge Collection that achieved £5,800, an 1828 sketch map of Bombay (BK19/555) that attracted a bid of £5,700 and a circus archive of photographs and advertising bills (BK20/310) belonging to Lord George Sanger that sold to the National Fairground Archive in Sheffield for £2,400.

The somewhat eclectic Collectors Sale produced a Carette tinplate model car (SC26/1016) that sold for £10,000 (despite some bodywork issues), a Potteresque taxidermy tableaux of a Squirrel School (SC26/82) that fell a whisker short of £5,000 and a Russian Order of St Anne medal (SC27/353) that rewarded us with a bid of £7,300. The top selling maritime lot of the year was a Siebe Gorman diving helmet (MA18/249) at £3,600.

However, as previously mentioned, it was the launch of Contemporary Sales that threw up some surprises with the February Sale producing a world record price of £305,000 for a Hans Coper Vase (SS04/129). The December sale didn't produce quite such stunning results, but it did have strength in depth throughout the paintings, sculptural, silver, furniture and studio pottery disciplines, thereby assuring its place in our 2019 sale schedule. Highlights included a spade vase by local (living) potter John Maltby (CC01/198) that sold for £4,000, a Denis Mitchell carved wooden plaque (CC01/111) at £3,300 and a David Hockney print of Archie (CC01/126) that made £3,200 and £3,100 for a Robert Heritage for Archie Shine Hamilton dining suite.

If one was to broadly summarise trends, then one might suggest firstly that the Chinese market is still cautiously strong as evidenced by the Ming cloisonné censer (FS39/607) offered in July, which resulted in an excellent £23,000 and secondly that the rumours of the demise of furniture are much exaggerated as shown by a William & Mary bureau cabinet (FS39/783) that sold for £23,500 or the set of eight dining chairs attributed to Robert Manwaring (FS40/931) at £30,000.

Otherwise, it will be steady as she goes next year as we try to maintain an interesting and varied schedule of sales building on the positive results of 2018 and the Philip Banham Collection of Optical Toys, Optical Prints and Stereoscopic on 6th March 2019 will be a welcome addition to our sale calendar.

Some of you will note that we have just embarked on a revamp of our website, as the first part of our larger digital plan for next year, so hope that you will forgive us any short term inconvenience this may cause. Which only leaves all of us here at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood to wish all our clients, collectors and just plain curious a great festive season and a happy and mutually prosperous 2019.


  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood

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