A Tough Three Days

An account of a tough few days at work.


James and Sons had auctions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was then back at work yesterday, doing various things. Also, as will be revealed in the course of this post something else came up after Tuesday’s auction.


Tuesday’s auction was a specialist stamp sale, and what should have been a fairly quiet afternoon actually became the most stressful period of the week. 


I have already posted a report on both these auctions on the James and Sons website. This auction did not feature any headline making sales, although quite a bit of stuff did sell. I am going to focus on just three lots, starting with…

LOTS 794 AND 795

In the run up to this auction I fielded a query about these lots, providing images to an interested party. It was this very person who subsequently bought both lots. Here are the images I produced.


LOT 966

This lot was one I had an eye on, and it was duly knocked down to me. I have lots of pictures of it, starting with the images I produced for public consumption, continuing with some images from during the auction the feature it and ending with the ones I took of it today.

A six image gallery from work


Folder close-up
Displayed at the auction – next to it is lot 959.
Philately layout
The full display (most of the big albums were left upstairs)>
A close-up shot taken at the same time.
Lot 966 displayed on the big screen
Note the insert, which tells us what this cover is all about – this is the first of the images I took today.



Having consumed my sandwiches I sought to update our website and discovered that it had been suspended due to a malware attack. This necessitated getting it professionally cleaned, and also arranging for it to protected in future. An hour and a half of exchanges with technical support staff at sitelock, discussions with my employer about which of various options we would go for, and a considerable amount of stress later the matter was settled, and I was able to head home knowing that the matter was being dealt with. At about 6PM I got an email sent to my personal email address confirming that the clean-up was complete and that they were informing Host Gator, who would reactivate the website. 


In view of the information contained in the paragraph above it will be no surprise that I was determined to be at James and Sons early, and I managed to be on the 6:23AM bus, arriving in Fakenham not long after 7. A quick check up confirmed that the website was back up and running. It remained only for me to reset the password (one does not take chances when there has so recently been an issue of that nature) and do some editing. I then had plenty of time to help bring down auction lots for display and get the IT side of the auction up and running. 

This sale went well overall (see here for more details). There was however one serious annoyance. There had been a confusion over lots in the range of 165-200 and I had had to remove a lot of images from the-saleroom, and renumber them and upload them again. The screengrab below, taken from the ATG Media toolbox shows conclusively that I had done this, but nevertheless, when we came to those lots on the day the wrong images were in place. 

Toolbox screen

Here some images of the layout of this auction…

Wednesday main layout IIFishing rods and other tackleBilliards CuesWednesday main layout


One I dismantled the IT stuff and replace it all where it belongs, and then consumed my sandwiches, as I was able to get some more work done, editing the website and also updating the company database with details of online bidders. 


A quiet day, in which I completed the updating of our company database, started imaging for the end of April auctions and took some parcels to the Post Office. I now have the long weekend to recover from these three days, the first two of which were very draining.



Photographs and Press Releases

An account of some work I have done with some very rare and valuable medals.


Although work has barely started as yet on the James and Sons January auction, there has been one huge development, in the form of some very high value medals. 


There are two groups of medals in this story, a very rare group awarded to Chief Gunner A E Seymour for the Battle of Jutland, which include a Russian Order of St Anne Gold Medal awarded to foreigners (exceedingly rare) and a group of World War Two medals awarded to his son. 


On the 12th of December I was asked to photograph the medals, making sure that we had top quality pictures available for use in advertising and promotional materials. These are the pictures that I took, starting with the Jutland group:

Jutland 1 - reduced
The first seven shots you will see are of the front side of the Jutland group

Jutland 2 - reducedJutland 3 - reducedJutland 4 -reducedJutland 5Jutland 6Jutland 7

Jutland back
The next three shots are of the back of the Jutland group

Jutland back 2Jutland back 3

russian medal - close up
The exceedingly rare Russian medal.
The naming on the back of the bronze medal.
The World War Two set
medals front
The front of the WWII medals
medals back
The back of the WWII medals

Until yesterday, barring a print out of some of the better pictures that I had produced for my employer’s use that was all that had been done…


As well as the document that I used as the email/ press release I had to create two mailing lists. One, a list of everyone who had bought medals from James and Sons in the past and had an email address was easily extracted from the client database (designed, created and maintained by me). The second, a combination of contact details for military publications and for everyone who advertises in the Medal Yearbook had to be assembled manually. In addition to these I had of course the regular press to contact, but those details are already available at a click in my work email account. 

The bulk email recipients merely got the document itself, plus the images actually used in it as attachments. Those who were being sent this as a press release got the full image gallery. At the end I also had send a jpeg of the press release to The Armourer, as we had missed the copy date for the printed magazine, but they were going to display it on their website.

The Press Release/ Email in jpeg form.


Running an Auction and a few Other Bits

The December auction of James and Sons took place at the Maids Head Hotel, Norwich yesterday. As the person running the company database it was a particularly full-on day for me, and I have decided to take you through it in chronological order:

5:45AM: Left the flat to be sure of being at bus station in time for 6:00 bus to Norwich (although the sale does not being until 10, with my responsibilities it is mandatory that I be at the auction venue by 8 at the latest and this is the last bus that will enable me to do that)

7:35AM: Bus arrives at Norwich bus station bang on schedule (not even a British bus company can contrive to be running late at this stage of the morning) and I head straight but unhurriedly for the Maids Head Hotel.

7:45AM: Arrive at the hotel and find my way to the Erpingham Room where I will be based for the next few hours.

8:30AM: By this stage the setup and layout are complete and viewers are starting to arrive. My computer is set up in a location that ensures that no punters will have access to confidential information and the internet connection is working, although it will still be necessary to phone the shop in Fakenham every time someone wants to pay by card as the connection does not extend to our portable card reader. Before attending to my own specific tasks I print out a listing of commssion bids that have been registered online via http://www.the-saleroom.com. Between the information on the registrants page of http://www.the-saleroom.com and the written and printed records of bids received in advance I am able to ensure that my database is as up to date as it can be before the auction starts.

10:00AM: Kick off, and the auction starts with a bang as lot 1 sells for £130 against an estimate of £50. This is the occasion for the first of various live tweets I manage to post in between doing the work I am paid for.

The lots come and go very fast, and it is significantly before 11 that the first lot I am interested in, number 171, two postcards of East Rudham and West Raynham churches goes under the hammer. I stick in a bid but then realise I am up against the proprietor of Lynn Gold and recognising that he has much greater financial firepower decide not to bother contesting further.

After 250 lots the auctioneer takes a brief break and I have my first problem of the day, when instead of printing out an invoice as I require my computer wants to print out the entire Auction Form record (fortunately I am able to cancel the job before a single page has been wasted). I resolve the problem by the tried and tested if unscientific method of closing the database down and reopening, and as it happens there will be no further technical malfunctions that day.

Approx 12:30PM: We have now been through 500 lots, and are about to move on to coins and banknotes, with militaria, ephemera and some misecllaneous items still to come. This is a sensible point at which to take a 15 minute break, as planned by the auctioneer. Lot 441 in the meantime had been knocked down to me for £12.

A combination of the speed at which auctioneer David is getting through the lots and the frequency with which I have to produce invoices causes me to fall behind, but with only two room bidders other than myself still left this is not actually as serious an issue as it feels at the time.

14:18PM: Lot 786, the last item in the sale goes under the hammer.

14:40PM: The clear-up is complete and I take my leave. A call at the Glasshouse just down the road for some liquid refreshment and a visit to the library (which I regard as a must when I am in Norwich) mean that I end up on the 16:40 bus back to King’s Lynn. The front of the bus provides a sight I have not previously been treated to: although we are in Norwich and the bus is terminating at King’s Lynn the intermediate destinations listed are those between Peterborough and King’s Lynn! This causes a degree of confusion among my fellow passengers, especially those travelling to intermediate destinations, as you might imagine.

It is just a shade under thirteen hours after setting off in the morning that I finally arrive back at the flat. Come Dine With Me via 4OD followed by Strictly on iplayer complete the day. It was semi-finals week on the latter, meaning that each couple had two dances to perform. The best was saved till last as Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev produced the routine that finally persuaded Craig to flourish the 10 paddle.

I have a few pictures for you…

This is the Dereham Christmas tree.
This is the Dereham Christmas tree.
Part of the sale as laid out before the start.
Part of the sale as laid out before the start.
More of the sale.
More of the sale.
The Christmas tree in the Erpingham Room at the Maids head Hotel
The Christmas tree in the Erpingham Room at the Maids head Hotel
The last four images are of my purchase, taken this morning, this full picture and three close ups.
The last four images are of my purchase, taken this morning, this full picture and three close ups.

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A Day at James and Sons

No images with this post I’m afraid, as I did not do any imaging today. However, I am going to be getting my Nikon Coolpix P520 back from repair this evening (they are delivering it to me at my flat), so I will soon have some really good pictures once again.

My day started with a vigorous warm-up (much needed in view of the weather) consisting of an hour and a quarter worth of fetching and carrying (bringing an entire auction down two floors so it could be laid out in the shop for viewing), continued with some work on the database as I plugged on with the Sisyphean task of simultaneously wrapping up one auction and preparing for another, and finished with polishing off a cup of James and Sons style iced coffee. What is James and Sons style iced coffee? Well it is made in this way:

1)Make yourself a cup of coffee at the start of your working day

2)Be so busy that you don’t get to drink it until the end by when (at this time of year) it will be a more than passable impersonation of iced coffee!

Twitter continues to go well, with @greatauction approaching 300 followers in spite of a certain lack of material and @aspitweets not far short of 800.

Racecourse Auction Success

Yesterday James and Sons of Fakenham had their August auction at Fakenham Racecourse, and the day went very smoothly. The database system that has been 16 months in the development process is now functioning very well for purpose – at no time was I more than about 10 lots behind the action, meaning that I was able to produce invoices without many delays. The internet connection worked perfectly, so we got our full ration of internet bids.

After I have pulled everything together today I will begin writing up the best success stories (my role at James and Sons could be described as at least a quadruple one – database developer, data input clerk, imager and press release creator). Without as yet revealing any content I can say that Coins, Medals, Militaria and Stamps will all definitely feature. 

I have some pictures from the auction venue for you…

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