Another flat full of valuables

I emailed Diane at Tennant’s Auctioneers.

She’s been the patient recipient of numerous inquiries since I processed much of the loft contents here through good old Tennant’s – a family run auction house with beautiful premises up in Leyburn. I still maintain that they’re the best auction house in the UK. Honestly, I’ve tried a fair few over the years. Chiswick sent a total arse round my flat who was more interested in showing me what he knew than helping me sell things that sold well at Tennants years later after I got over how demoralising he was. Bonham’s needlessly messed me around selling a whiskey bottle, putting it through twice and hitting me with double insurance when I would have been very happy with the discretion of the high bid the first time. On the flip side, Gorringes sold a £200-£300 auctioneer discretion picture for £50 when the guy I consigned it with had been told I had been offered £120 on eBay. I got just over £35. Lots Road actually ignored my request to drop the minimum for a cabinet I was selling to test them. They had minimum £150 with discretion when I asked for £100. It went unsold at about the price it sold at the next time round (£130 ish) – they wanted double fees so made sure it went round twice. Roseberys are very nice but haven’t got the audience. Plus they flogged a picture of mine for bollocks all where I’d have made much more on eBay. All of the above places have their areas of expertise and use of course. I’m not telling you to avoid them. Don’t sue me etc. This is just my experience, and in my experience none of the above are easy recommendations. Christie’s and Sotheby’s aren’t interested unless the item is worth a few grand minimum – I did have a good experience with one item at Sotheby’s when I was on Camino. But I emailed Diane. I like and trust Tennant’s. They’re good because they’re in North Yorkshire, but they’re hard to get to for the same reason.

My friend has a large amount of beautiful old stuff inherited from his mother, who was asset rich cash poor with property. She long ago flogged all the value she could bear to flog so the place has been stripped. My friend is convinced with the certainty of grief that everything remaining is worth about eight times what its worth – an attachment pathology I totally understand and empathise with. Partly he’s adding the sentimental value to the item – and so he must as when it’s gone it’s gone. Partly he’s an optimist. Partly he’s thinking about what he would pay for it if he wanted it and if he went into a boutique shop in Kensington to buy it wearing one of his expensive suits and showy watches. “Ah yes sir that’s worth a hundred… I mean a thousand pounds to you sir special discount.”

There are a few things he’s bought on the shopping channel stashed in with the antiques. Terrible modern rings with big shiny certificates. “This is a guaranteed real ‘I love you oh so very very much much ™’ ring, and you pay for the quality real true honest goldyish material.”

If you haven’t got the platform you can’t sell things easily or quickly at the top of their potential value. You can sell terrible rings to late night shoppers by starting them way too high and dropping them to still too high. But … that’s a platform. I don’t have a shop.

I’m going to try to raise good prices for him if he lets me. There are some wonderful things. I’ve had so much fun photographing them today. There are some beautiful items gathering dust. He’s cash-broke too. He’s trying to move to selling the flat they’re in. It needs to be emptied.

So I emailed Diane. Just two big vases for now to see if they are worth bringing up. Maiolica from Italy. Impressive pieces. My friend insists they’re 17th century. I reckon they’re 18th. Diane, on a first glance, worried they were 20th… If that turns out to be the case I will be told by my friend that Diane is just wrong. I will then have to take them into Bonham’s or somewhere similar for a second opinion and a letter on headed paper and even then if they don’t think it’s what he thinks it is, the expert will be thought of as incorrect. I’m hoping they really ARE truly old and can sell well. If they are it’ll be a shot in the arm for my friend. But … I’m so used to people thinking worthless things are valuable. It’s the easiest mistake in the world when we have old things with provenance.

Some real delights here. And a bunch of attractive pictures of Chelsea by Kathlyn Beddall. I might buy one of them as it’s my manor.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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