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The most obvious change in auctions since the millennium has been the influence of the internet, first with websites that allowed people to view auction lots prior to sale and gave even quite parochial auctioneers a global audience; then live online bidding, which has been the biggest game changer of all. But go back even earlier and you will find other significant developments.

If you attended an auction in the 1960s, you would rarely have found a detailed catalogue outside the London rooms. Where catalogues were available, estimates were not.

Dealers, I’m sure, would love it if that were still the case, but times have moved on, auction houses have learnt the value of the private buyer, there are more niche specialists than generalists, and quality of service for the private punter has become the watchword. Clear guides to everything from how to bid to what fees are involved make the auction process much simpler for the novice to bidder or seller to understand … and rightly so.

Such changes bring their own challenges, but they show how adaptable auctions have been over the years.

This also extends to what people buy. Time was when the industry was dominated by generalists holding weekly sales of antique furniture, silver, ceramics and glass, together with a selection of Victorian and Edwardian pictures. Today it’s a very different prospect. Auctioneers tend to divide up sales by discipline to create specialist niche offerings in everything from 20th century design to jewellery and accessories.

Trainers used to be restricted to sport; now they have moved beyond fashion items to become expensive collectables, with the likes of Sotheby’s holding specialist sales of them.

Heavy, dark furniture may have hit the buffers, but good solid oak and other, lighter woods transformed into stunning early 20th century pieces at the hands of a well-known master craftsman still command a premium. Antiques are far from over; like everything else, they simply evolve along with people’s taste.


    We are inviting you to bring in your jewellery, watches, clocks, pictures, oriental works of art, antiques, vases, porcelain, etc for valuation on any Friday starting on Friday 19 January from 9am-5pm. We will have specialists on hand to assist you. If you have a car or van load or just one piece, do bring it along. Appointments not necessary.