+44 (0)1428 653727 sales@johnnicholsons.com


One way of acquiring a works by a master

I suspect that most people would like to have a statement piece of art on their wall; a painting by a well-known artist that becomes a talking point and the envy of their friends. For most, prices today mean that whether you like John Constable or Damien Hirst, that ambition is likely to remain just a dream.

However, you might be surprised at just how affordable prints by leading artists can be. And if it’s wallpower you’re after, opting for a limited edition print of an impressive size may well be the way to go. Prints are also a great way of dipping your toe in the market, because you can buy something really decent without getting your fingers burnt financially. David Hockney is an example of an artist whose prints, in general, make nowhere near the sums his major works can command, and so are accessible to a wide audience.

Some artists, like Victor Pasmore, who spent as much care on producing first class prints from one of the best print shops around, can be worth targeting more for these works than for original paintings.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts about prints in next week’s blog.

There’s still nothing like the live auction experience to get you hooked

You would have thought after all these years of antiques TV shows that just about everybody would be at ease with auctions, but we still get a few shy ones coming through the doors in Fernhurst. They’re clearly interested in the whole process or they wouldn’t be there. If you’re one of them, have no fear, we don’t bite and I’d be amazed if you couldn’t find anything to spark your interest.

My advice to anyone who hasn’t yet got to grips with auctions but would like to find out more is to come to a viewing before the sale. That way you can wander around and look at everything that’s on offer in a relaxed fashion. At viewings you will find lot numbers attached to each piece on display, and they correspond with the numbers in the catalogues, which are also around the saleroom so you can check out the description and estimate. Staff are on hand to answer any questions or help you get a better look at anything – you’ll find that’s true at any decent auction house.

And if you want to see a great bit of traditional auction drama, come along to the early part of one of our general auctions when the saleroom manager takes bids in the back viewing room rather than from the rostrum. You will find all the bidders standing together among the pieces being sold. There’s nothing quite like it to get you hooked.



The unique influence of Her Majesty the Queen on the field of collecting

April 21 was Her Majesty The Queen’s 96th birthday. She is now by far this nation’s longest serving monarch and it was no surprise to me that a few years ago newspaper reports discussed her suitability as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to the unparalleled role she has played in promoting world peace and general harmony through The Commonwealth.

The Queen is also unique when it comes to the art, antiques and auction market because of her role in influencing so many different fields of collecting.

Whether it is the various issues of stamps and coins, jubilee and Royal Wedding wares, or the occasional more personal item, such as letters, signed photographs and gifts, nothing appeals to bidders more than a direct Royal connection, with anything associated with Her Majesty at the forefront of desirable items.

Perhaps the most personal items that have come up for sale in recent years are the clothes and toys that were offered in September 2017 from the estate of former royal nurse Clara Knight, who looked after the Queen and Princess Margaret when they were babies and toddlers. Dolls, Mickey and Minnie Mouse figures, dresses and other clothing recaptured a moment from a more innocent time before the abdication, when the then Princess Elizabeth had no idea that one day she would take the throne. Fate played its hand and we are now in the closing years of the second great Elizabethan age.


The timeless appeal of clocks

A client who came in the other day was sporting one of those colourful Apple watches we keep hearing about, so I asked him to show me what all the fuss was about. I know the aim these days is to make ever-smaller computers, but if you suffer from fat finger syndrome then this is your average nightmare.

That’s why it will always be a traditional wristwatch for me or, better still, an elegant mantel or table clock.

The glorious range of clocks that you can still buy at auction continues to support one of the strongest established collecting fields. And it’s no surprise that while other disciplines wax and wane in popularity, clocks have never lost their allure.

Just think about it: from longcase to skeleton, these are not just works of art, they are also engineering miracles, offering all qualities that collectors look for. Makers such as Tompion, Quare and Graham from the Golden Age of English clock making in the late 17th century can still cause bidding frenzies, their supreme craftsmanship apparent at every level. Lesser masters also create a stir, and there’s still so much to choose from. The icing on the cake? Speak it softly, but under Treasury rules clocks are deemed wasting assets because of their moving parts… and so are not liable for Capital Gains Tax.

How much is yours worth?