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.
A topical way of looking at antiques and collectables for the first time is to study Coronation memorabilia. May 12, 1937 – 86 years ago now – marked the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Coronation mugs from that event are still changing hands, as is memorabilia from the late Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and all the jubilees since.
While a Queen Victoria 1837 Coronation mug in good condition might now fetch £700-800, her successors’ Coronation mugs can generally be had for less than £50, even that for Edward VIII who was never crowned.
In modern times, though, the one to look for is the alternative 1953 Coronation mug, modelled by Wedgwood on a design by the artist Eric Ravilious. For that you can expect at least £250 and probably more.