James and Sons March Auction

An account of James and Sons’ March auction with lots of photographs. Also a brief mention of the theme of my next blog post.


James and Sons’ March auction took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with the first two days taking place at our premises on Norwich Street, while the third took place at Fakenham Racecourse.

DAY 1: LOTS 1-500

I arrived at the shop at 8:30AM, the setup was accomplished with no serious hitches, and the sale got underway at 10AM as planned. The first lots to go under the hammer were coins, and a few of them sold well, with a large internet presence making up for the fact that we had very few people bidding live. After coins came banknotes and related epehmera, including the first Traveller’s Cheques to feature in a James and Sons auction. Here are some pictures of lots in this part of the sale…

This was lot 25
Lot 140.
Lot 254 (two images – the first Travellers Cheque lot)


Lot 255 (six images, the other Travellers Cheque lot)


The remaining lots to go under the hammer on day 1 were cigarette cards, Liebig cards and match attack cards. None of these fared especially well. I therefore end this section with a picture of one lot that did sell and will feature in much more detail in my next post…


Lot 369 went to me. My next post on this blog will be about what I shall be referring as Autism Acceptance Month in preference to the older, less expressive and misappropriated (I won’t name the culprits, but if you want a clue think blue jigsaw pieces) Autism Awareness Month, and I shall display these pictures in the context of talking about special interests. 

DAY 2: LOTS 501-950

This was in many ways the most stressful of the three days, because in addition to the middle part of the auction it featured the setup at the racecourse to enable people to preview the third day lots in advance. The auction part of the day was very quiet, although there was one brief moment of excitement around lot 696, a Chinese stamp for which I do not have an image (I rarely do stamps these days because they are easy to scan and my time is better spent doing the more difficult imaging). 

After the auction part of the day finished I helped with the unloading of items of the racecourse to be set up for the morrow, took some close up photographs of a couple of items that were needed to enable me to answer last minute queries and walked back to the shop (it takes about 15 minutes from the Prince of Wales Suite, the part of the racecourse where we hold our auctions) to edit the images and answer the queries. I also got a small amount of April imaging done before closing time (having arrived early to ensure that I had time to do the IT setup, and given the day that I knew to lie in store for me on the morrow I was not going to burning midnight oil, and when the last of my shop based colleagues finished his day at 3PM and I had seen him out I called it a day myself. Here are some pictures of the lots I was answering 11th hour queries about…

The first five of these images relate to lot 1142.


The remaining images relates to lot 1117 – a gun stock without the barrel which would have been stored inside it. Both these items sold for good money in the end.


DAY THREE: LOTS 951-1560

In view of the fact that the catalogue advertised viewing at the racecourse from 8AM I decided to get the first bus of the morning to Fakenham, which leaves King’s Lynn at 6:28AM. I was therefore outside the Prince of Wales Suite at about 7:30AM, and had to wait for someone else to arrive with a key to open it up. Still, while waiting I did get this picture:


With the setup accomplished, and knowing that all was working properly I could get some pictures from the venue (the first had actually been taken the day before):

After a fairly quiet start to the day the militaria sold well and the toys/ collectors models also fared well. As on the first two days it was the online bidders (who by the end of the auction numbered some 350) who were responsible for most of the action. The auction finished, it remained to dismantle the sale, load the goods up and transport them back to the shop. This was accomplished just quick enough for me to get the 3:35 bus home. The third day more than made up for the comparative quietness of the first two. James and Sons next auction is on April 24, 25 and 26, with all three days happening at our shop on Norwich Street. Here are a few final pictures to conclude.

This was the first lot under the hammer on day 3.


This lot was the subject of query that led to the taking of a number of extra images (the sale price justified the extra work many times over)


This was the first of toy/ collector’s model lots.
This little thing did not make big money (I will be collecting it and paying for both lots that I won when I go back to work on Tuesday).

James and Sons First Ever Three Day Auction

An illustrated account of James and Sons’ first three day auction.


On Monday, Tuesday and Yesterday my employers staged their first ever three-day auction, all three days of the sale taking place at our shop in Fakenham. This post describes the event.


There were a few technical issues early on, and we had to dispense with the live video because it just would not work. However, with close to 200 online bidders (this tally rose past 300 before the end of the auction on Wednesday) signed up before the sale started and a few people there in person it was not long before good things started happening. The first and  biggest headline maker was…

LOT 22

This 1863 penny caused an internet dominated bidding battle which finally stopped at £1,200 (the estimate had been £250-300, and the bidding had started around that level). The successful bidder then telephoned in to clarify whether he could return the item if it turned out not to be as expected. This led to a tricky photographic assignment for yours truly. Looking at the pictures below can you see what is unusual about the dating on thkis coin?

I took a photo of the whole coin (for this I needed a larger image than I could get by scanning), and produced from that two full face pictures and two pictures focussing only the date.



Although nothing else approached lot 22 the coins did continue to sell fairly well. I will feature one more lot, which although it did not reach great heights was contested…

LOT 141

This was a Lima Tramways Inauguration token. Two people were interested, myself and an internet bidder. When the online bidder went to £20 over my £18 I conceded defeat (I had decided that I was not going beyond £20 and adhered to that decision). In addition to the obvious public transport connection, there is also a more obscure and tenuous cricket related connection: Lima was also the birthplace of Freddie Brown, who went on Jardine’s 1932-33 ashes tour without being picked for a test match and captained the touring party for the 1950-51 ashes. Here is the image gallery for this lot to commemorate my near miss:

The main image for this lot consists of two 600dpi scans (one of each face) joined together.
I also keep the individual images so that interested parties can look at each individual face if they so desire.



The banknotes fared well, while the experiment with banking ephemera (mainly but not entirely cheques) cannot yet be judged – more of the stuff will be going under the hammer at our next auction. 


The militaria was again largely successful. In a pattern of consistent successes there was one stand out, early in the section. The star of this second half of day one was…

LOT 309

This lot, a Free Polish Airforce pilots badge and RAF Dingley escape whistle with an estimate of £80-95 eventually sold for £320.



After the end of the first day at lot 550 the stuff for that part of the sale had to be moved upstairs and the stuff for day two brought down into the shop. My involvement in this process and the fact the we had finished later than expected meant that I did not get any imaging done before going home.


This post has featured scanning and photography, so here is a brief guide to myt appraoch to imaging at work:

I scan the following items:

Coins – 600dpi, scan each face, brighten the images (this both improves the clarity of the image, and since I have also adopted the policy of using a white background, effectively eliminates the background) and join the two images together to create the master image). I can image up 20 single coin lots at a time in this way, and the scanner I use works fast even at high resolution.

Stamps – 300-400dpi according to the level of intricacy of the pattern. Small stamps usually have an automatic black background because of the holders that are used. Usually I image these lots four at a time, but occasionally if the stamps are particularly suitably placed in the holders I can do more.

Postcards – 200-300 dpi according to time considerations. When there has been a real hurry on I have got away with scanning postcards at 150dpi, but I do not recommend going this low. The bed of my scanner is big enough for four standard size postcards, and in general if I have more cards than that in a lot I photograph rather than scanning.

Banknotes and related items – 200dpi is usually right for these.

Small ephemera: Any printed item that is A4 or less in size can be scanned. These items can be done at 150dpi.

All items not in the above list are photographed, and for items in the above list the decision to scan is dependent on small size – I do not for example lay out the contents of a huge box of coins on the scanner bed and scan.


A slightly fractious start to the day, as it was still not possible to run the video. Also, due to the confusion caused by frantic attempts to find a way to run the video the first couple of lots went under the hammer without audio either. 


There was no danger of any of these not selling because one of our regulars had left a block of bids on all of them, and some ended up going to other people. 


These as might be expected were fairly quiet, although even they did not completely bomb – some decorated menus sold reasonably well. 


The big news from these lots was that the majority actually sold. Near the end there was a very minor controversy concerning…

LOT 789

This was the second and last lot ion the catalogue that was of personal interest to me. I opened the bidding at £16, and as I as recording this information an internet bit for the same amount registered. James and Sons policy on the matter is clear – a room bid has privilege over an internet bid. I thus pressed the ‘room’ button on the console to disallow the internet bid. The item was then knocked down at £16. Just in case the unlucky internet bidder is reading this, they would have had to go to £22 to get the item, since I was adhering to the same policy that I had adopted with regard to lot 141 – I was prepared to go to but not beyond £20. As a further point please note that had I secured lot 141 I would not have bid on this item. When I have been through it in detail I will produce a full post about this item, but for the moment here are the official images:

The whole item.
Close focus on some of the cards.


The moving of items so that the setup was ready for day 3 was swiftly accomplished, and having done fewer lots and the auction having run more smoothly there was plenty of time for me to finish the day with some…


The February auction will be another three day affair, but with an extra twist – days 1 and 2 will be at the shop again, but day 3 (A Wednesday again) will be at The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich. Here are some of the images I produced on Tuesday afternoon…


Please do not draw any conclusions from the fact that I have included images of third Reich coins in this post!



The day started with a wait outside the shop as the colleague who was opening up was delayed, continued with a quick trip to get a replacement strip bulb because one was shining a very ugly shade of pink but the setupo went smoothly, and the auction proceeded with no problems. These lots were not expected to generate bidding fireworks, but a reasonable number of them did actually sell.

There was no immediate need to transfer the stuff, so I was able to do other work, starting with…


These needed to be done first as some would be featuring in the print catalogue…

This is about the biggest coin lot that could be sensibly scanned.



I departed from usual policy with banknotes and scanned this one at 600 dpi because it is a very rare item.

After lunch and a quick trip to the stationer for a box of paper I did some more ordinary imaging…

A repeat of my earlier disclaimer re images of stuff from the third Reich.


This whole set of 25 lots of Liebig cards had to be imaged – I have selected a range rather than sharing all 25.



James and Sons’ first three day auction was definitely a success. The use of the shop as a venue massively reduces overhead costs, and the fact that we can only seat a few people there is no great disadvantage. February’s auction, on the 20th and 21st at the shop and then the 22nd at the Maids Head Hotel, Norwich will provide an interesting comparison. I end this post with some pictures of the layout on the first two days of the January auction (day 3 did not warrant a picture):


Most of the lots were laid on or under this table
The small, high valued stuff such as coins was in this display cabinet.
Day 2, followed by a couple of close ups (day three was not worth photographing).