On Auctions and Auctioneers ~ Random Reflections

Auction LogoPrompted to rush to the keyboard following another entertaining episode of “Celebrity Antiques Road Trip”, this time, c. 2012, featuring Thomas Plant, and our favourite Auctioneer, { except, that is, when he is expounding upon the subject of Royal Doulton Crinoline Figurines ! }, James Lewis, and their celebrity guests.

As will be clear from the most cursory reading of our advice re. “Selling your Antiques” as set out on our Terms and Conditions page, we bear no animus towards our professional brethren or their gavel wielding mode of occupation. Rather is it the case that we hold many of their number in high regard, saluting the erudition and scholarship which enriches so many of their sale catalogues.

That said, today’s programme, as so often, highlighted the manifold deficiencies which regularly are encountered in salerooms up and down the country. Filmed at a provincial saleroom, the resident Auctioneer, when considering the merits or otherwise of the items to be offered, completely failed to mention the Late 17th / Early 18th Century tortoiseshell box, which star item, purchased during the trip for the derisory sum of £35.00 by the opposing team, our Derby colleague had quietly intimated in an aside, he would have been pleased to buy, despite it’s poor condition, for ten times that amount.

While none of us can be expected to be experts in every field, this incident exposes a fault-line that runs through the profession of auctioneering generally. This is that the well deserved reputation for learning and expertise to be found among the ranks of those employed by the major houses is all too often hijacked commercially by those who have no claim to such in-depth knowledge. Of this fact, their customers, who rely upon this supposed expertise when consigning goods for sale are but rarely made aware.