04/03/2022 Latest News
Tim Blyth of Keys Auctioneers & Valuers, previews Keys’ first Fine Sale of the year which takes place later this month – and reveals the surprising origins of several lots.
Most auction houses have a hierarchy of sales, holding back the very best lots – whether in terms of value, interest or rarity – for special, high-value sales. At Keys, these translate into our thrice-yearly Fine Sales, which stretch over three days, the first of which takes place at the end of March.
With the advent of internet bidding, and in particular with the introduction of our own bespoke live online bidding platform KeysLive in 2019 (which as it turns out, was very propitious timing), collectors and traders no longer have to be in the room to bid.
That means that fine sales held in the leading provincial auction houses (such as Keys, described by industry bible Antiques Trade Gazette as ‘Top Tier’) can now compete with auctions held by the biggest London names, because if you are a potential buyer sitting in Beijing, or New York, or Dubai, it makes no difference where the sale is physically taking place.
The result is that our Fine Sales attract bidders from all over the world. In 2021 we despatched sold lots to people in 150 different countries; Aylsham really is now a global centre for high-quality fine art antiques.
You would think that people consigning these kinds of lots would know in advance that their treasures are going to be something which attracts serious collectors. In many cases that is true – our Fine Sales have a national and international reputation, and sellers target them specifically – but this is not always the case.
Three examples in our March Fine Sale underline just how important it is to obtain proper, expert valuations.
The first is a Chinese porcelain Vase, in the form of a jade Cong, with Guangxu mark to base. This was consigned by a seller to our weekly general sale, as they believed it to be of minimal value. Luckily, our experts spotted its potential immediately, and held it back from being sold cheaply. It will go under the hammer in our Fine Sale this month, and we expect it to make a four figure sum.
As I wrote in this column last month, house clearances often throw up gems, which are almost certain to be missed by the more ‘industrial’ type of house clearance operation. There are two good examples of lots in our Fine Sale which came from house clearances: a Doulton Lambeth Art Nouveau jardiniere and stand which we expect to make hundreds, and some decorative 19th century tiles (which the owner told us were heading for the skip) which are also expected to see bidding into the hundreds of pounds.
When the catalogue for the March Fine Sale is published next week, it will contain a stunning selection of ceramics, glassware, furniture, pictures, clocks, watches, jewellery and vintage fashions, with pre-sale estimates ranging well into the tens of thousands. This is a serious fine art antique sale which rivals all but the most rarefied of Bond Street auctions.
That very fact can seem intimidating to some people who may not regard what they have to sell as being in that league. But that is where expert advice comes in: placing a lot in the right sale, where the right kind of collector or trader will be looking, is the key to getting the best result.
As I have written before, spotting items of value requires a range of expertise, and realising the full value of those items on the open market is (in my opinion) best undertaken by offering at auction with a professional auction house which can offer the items in the correct sale, to the right market.
Our specialist knowledge is always available, without obligation, at the end of a phone, an email, or via a home visit. It seems a shame to miss out.