Published 26th June 2015
The advantage that Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood has over its competitors is the broad knowledge base and experience of its specialist departments and the regular specialist auctions conducted in the heart of the West Country in Exeter. Those of you who are still sceptical should look at the forthcoming Maritime Auction of 1st July 2015 as a prime example of the demand for specialist auctions.
On any other day, with any other auctioneer, you might find the odd nautical antique or picture, tucked somewhere out of the way in the saleroom and certainly given a very brief description in the catalogue. However, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are far happier to take time, prepare and research these individual pieces and bring them together, for the benefit of vendors and buyers alike.
Starting the sale with a first for the company is the inclusion of a 20ft motor boat 'Wier Dolphin' of Dartmouth (MA15/2). Well equipped with a good clean engine, it will serve many years as a good day boat. It is already attracting pre-sale interest (perhaps even more if the directors let me take it for a trip up the Exe). At £5,000-£6,000, it follows in the footsteps of the classic cars and vehicles that we now have the facilities for in the re-developed Westcountry Saleroom Complex in Exeter.
To many, the section of maritime ceramics may look like pieces that are seen in our regular Antiques and Interiors Auctions, but to the specialist collectors there are a few gems here with historical and royal connections.
The ice pail (MA15/9) and coffee can and saucer (MA15/10) from the service of the Royal Yacht Victoria & Albert III are sought after by collectors and even with some slight damage should reach the upper end of their estimates.
The Waterloo commemorative cup (MA15/46) comes to the sale in the bicentenary year of the Battle of Waterloo and will attract interest in the sale as the Waterloo Manuscript will do in the August 2015 Antiquarian Book sale later in the year.
Items relating to the Napoleonic Wars and the main protagonists remain at the top of the market, even the small section of flag taken from the one that covered Nelson's coffin (MA15/265) or the mahogany box that contained a piece of Bonaparte's coffin (MA15/293) will see that two old adversaries competing again at auction.
The very nature of the theme of the auction automatically attracts a great deal of international attention. The watercolour of the SS Austral by William Wyllie (MA15/357) is a perfect example, as the ship made the round trip From England to Australia for over 22 years, despite foundering in Neutral Bay in 1882; and this is exactly where the interest has been coming from in the run up to the sale.
The point of our maritime sales is to help bring these pieces out of the shadows and into the spotlight; certainly, something that past sale results have shown. Rather than consign a maritime picture or a scientific instrument or an item of sailor's shell work to a mediocre sale with a mediocre auctioneer, do it some justice and place it in a proper auction.