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Art is not just for specialists

As we prepare for out next fine art auction in Fernhurst, I continue to be astonished by the number of people who think that you have to have some sort of specialist knowledge to bid at a sale of paintings and drawings. The most important question you can possibly ask yourself about a picture or piece of sculpture coming up for auction is: Do I like it? If it’s something you think you can live with for a long time and get plenty of enjoyment out of, you have passed the vital hurdle. Next: What am I prepared to pay for it? That’s what the estimate is there for. Sometimes lots can soar over estimate, at other times they can go at a bargain price or not sell at all. In the end, only you can decide what your upper limit is – and don’t forget to account for any auction charges like the buyer’s premium.

It’s also a good idea to check out the work’s condition; these days, if you can’t attend the view, you should find most of the details about this online in the catalogue description.

Apart from that, your main consideration will be getting it home if you are successful. Can you collect it personally? Is it something you can put in the back of your car? Will you have to pay for delivery, which will mean packing and shipping costs? If so, what are they?

Follow these simple steps and you will find you are, indeed, qualified to bid. As the saying goes: come on down!

Our debt to The Bard and his guardian angels

It’s hard to think of a more sought-after book at auction than a First Folio Shakespeare. Published in 1623 – seven years after the great man’s death – it constitutes the finest collection of poetry and drama in any language.

The announcement that a copy will come up for auction April with an estimate of around $4 million to $6 million is a timely reminder of a few things we know about Shakespeare and few things we don’t.

The first thing is that none of the playwright’s original scripts for his 37 plays has survived and it is only through the printed editions that we know his works at all. Without the First Folio, 18 of the plays would probably have not survived, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Measure For Measure. How many of the more famous and widely used sayings would also have been lost to the English language as a result? Shakespeare is known to have contributed at least 1700 words to English for a start.

If Shakespeare himself is the god of the written word, then John Heminge and Henry Condell are its guardian angels. Fellow actors and friends of The Bard, it was they who edited the First Folio and had it printed, dividing the plays into comedies, histories and tragedies.

If Kim Kardashian is obsessed, then auctions are here to stay

Last week I told you about a young man whose dedication had built a substantial art and antiques business from nothing over just five years. Now I have further evidence of the enduring appeal of auctions and the indisputable fact that this process is not a dying tradition limited to old folk.

As the old year gave way to the new, one of the more interesting revelations was that Kim Kardashian (if you’ve not heard of her, where have you been?!) is ‘obsessed’ with auctions and has already put a significant sum where her mouth is by snapping up rock ’n’ roll relics under the hammer.

As a stocking filler for her six-year-old son North, she bought a jacket (for $65,625) that had once belonged to his idol, Michael Jackson, while adding the Smooth Criminal star’s white fedora ($7680) to top it off. Meanwhile Kardashian added rings ($7000 and $8000) worn by The King, Elvis Presley, to the list of gifts she handed to her brother for the Festive Season.

This is all pretty impressive stuff. Of course, the problem with buying all this for a six year old is how you go one better for next Christmas!

Why the future looks bright

Anyone who thinks that young people today don’t know how to graft should read the tale of a twenty-something lad who set out to conquer the world of art and antiques just five years ago and has now built himself a business valued at around £350,000.

He’s still some way from realising his dream of having the most successful dealing business online in the country, but I take my hat off to him for what he’s done so far. It’s all been the result of a little bit of luck and a great deal of sweat. The luck was discovering that what everyone else took to be worthless tat – 20-plus year old children’s TV VHS videos – turned out to have a great deal of retro appeal that meant he could buy them for 10p to 50p at car boot sales and retail them online for up to £15. This gave him the nest egg for his proper launch into antiques and collectables, while brushing up his skills and knowledge of the auction world by working as a porter and a cataloguer at an auction house.

From the sound of it, there have been precious few hours left to do anything else, but imagine the sense of achievement. The future looks bright after all.