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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.