It used to be that someone consigned something for auction, it got a brief description in a catalogue (if there was one), a dealer or private buyer would bid for it successfully and then they would take it away. That was some decades ago.
Nowadays, for auctioneers worth their salt, it’s a much more complex business. Quite apart from all the compliance paperwork, we take much better care of the items consigned, study and catalogue them clearly, make sure they are stored safely and do our best to present them well for the view.
Add to this all the online commitment, from numerous photographs to condition reports, maintaining a website, social media and marketing auctions far and wide – especially now bidders at any sale can come from dozens of countries – and it is easy to see where the time and money goes.
The blessings of a much wider customer base bring with them greater logistical challenges; items often need to be carefully packed and dispatched abroad, with all the relevant customs declarations and so on. This means that we create business for logistics firms, as well as other ancillary businesses that support the nation’s art and antiques market, now third only to the United and States and China in size and importance globally.
So every time you either decide to consign something like a picture or piece of jewellery to auction, or indeed buy the same, you are setting off a positive chain of activity that supports the economy in a myriad ways. That’s a cheering thought.