James and Sons Auction

A personal account of yesterday’s auction.

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INTRODUCTION

This is my personal account of our auction which took place yesterday at The Prince of Wales Stand, Fakenham Racecourse. This story features two days worth of action, the setup on Monday and the auction itself yesterday.

SETUP

Three of us were involved in loading the van up with everything we needed to take down to the racecourse for the auction, and once we had unloaded at the racecourse the other two then headed to the silo in the village of Syderstone that James and Sons use for storage to retrieve the rostrum and the stools that the two of us who are on the rostrum occupy while I endeavoured to lay the stuff out to best advantage. My efforts were largely successful – when I arrived the following morning very little of what  had done was changed. I noticed a new decoration behind the bar while setting up…

I am certain given the high moral and ethical standards of the people who run the Racecourse that the turtle to whom this shell previously belonged would have died before 1947.
I am certain given the high moral and ethical standards of the people who run the Racecourse that the turtle to whom this shell previously belonged would have died before 1947.

THE DAY OF THE AUCTION

A seriously early start was necessary, since I had to catch the 6:50AM bus. Fortunately the bus ran smoothly (there is no excuse for not doing so at that time of the morning!), and I was at the racecourse significantly before 8AM – and as it happened the first James and Sons employee to get there on the day. In between doing the IT setup and assisting customers I was able to take some photographs before the day started…

This lot is going to be the subject of a blog post all to itself - for the moment suffice to say that it sold to the photographer for £25.
This lot is going to be the subject of a blog post all to itself – for the moment suffice to say that it sold to the photographer for £25.

57 72

Lot 435 was the subject of a last minute query. The pictures of the front side of the item were online right from the moment the catalogue was put up, but someone wanted images of the back...
Lot 435 was the subject of a last minute query. The pictures of the front side of the item were online right from the moment the catalogue was put up, but someone wanted images of the back…
...and my briefcase was the only available dark background I had against which to image it!
…and my briefcase was the only available dark background I had against which to image it!

435 rev 435

Lot 612 - an antique folding camera - there are many more cameras due to feature in our next auction, including at least ten of the folding type.
Lot 612 – an antique folding camera – there are many more cameras due to feature in our next auction, including at least ten of the folding type.

612 lens Banner Dragon Lot 1 QM 1 and 2

This barometer with thermometer sold first time, unlike the other barometer in this auction, lot 24, which is a seasoned veteran of the auction room.
This barometer with thermometer sold first time, unlike the other barometer in this auction, lot 24, which is a seasoned veteran of the auction room.

THE AUCTION

The auction started quietly, until lot 7, an Indian bronze figurine which stood 13cm high and was slightly damaged. The estimate was a moderate £15-20, but the final hammer price was an eye-popping £120.

Note that no attempt had been made to hide the damage to the base of this figurine.
Note that no attempt had been made to hide the damage to the base of this figurine.
The back of the figurine.
The back of the figurine.
The front side only
The front side only.

Apart from lot 51 finding a good home, the next significant highlight was lot 222, a set of three challenge coins which were estimated at £5-10 but ended up making £22.

222

The stamps (generally a strong area at a James and Sons auction) started at lot 251, and lot 274, an album page of Chinese stamps with an estimate of £10-15 sold for £75. Lots 298 and 301, achieving £180 and £55 against top estimates of £100 and £15 respectively also generated considerable excitement, while in percentage terms lot 295, in selling for £170 against a top estimate of £20 was the star lot of the whole auction. Lot 364, an album of GB stamps, was estimated at £40-50 and actually went for £95. The coins and banknotes later in the auction also sold well, with lots 507-9, lot 519 and lots 569 and 570 among the coins doing especially well, and the banknote albums that were lots 590-8 inclusive all selling for good prices. An additional plus about the coin lots specifically was that a lot of the bulk coin lots were sold in the room to one of our regular large buyers, which meant that apart from assisting him to carry them to his car we were done with them. I have no pictures available here at home of the  coin or banknote lots, but here are those of the stamps I do have…

274

Lot 295, in percentage terms the star lot of the auction.
Lot 295, in percentage terms the star lot of the auction.

298 301 - a 301

THE CLEAR UP OPERATION

Once all the customers had departed with their purchases we had to load up the van, get everything back to the shop, return to the racecourse to pick up the rostrum and stools and drop those off at the silo and finally return to the shop to load up the van ready for travel to the collectors fair that will just about be under way as I write this. I was able to get the 17:38 bus home, meaning that I got back to my flat a mere 12 hours after departure, thoroughly exhausted. It is not just the heavy lifting, of which there was a large amount. Also, I find being on the rostrum, as I was for the first 470 of the 650 lots draining, and though I handle it fairly well these days I still find the direct customer service work involved on auction days hard.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

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