Yesterday James and Sons had an auction at Fakenham Racecourse, the first in 2018 to take place anywhere other than our shop in Fakenham, and the first at that venue with me in sole control of the IT side of things (the latter being a cause of some trepidation). The auctioneer and I had visited the racecourse the Friday before to establish that our IT setup (including the card terminal as part of the IT setup) would work there, and the auction lots and IT stuff were moved down to the racecourse on Tuesday.
I caught the 7:00 bus to Fakenham (the earliest, and my regular one on workdays anyway these days) and on what was already a warm sunny morning enjoyed the walk from Oak Street to the Racecourse (which is located not as its name suggests in Fakenham but just outside the adjoining village of Hempton), arriving at the venue at just before ten past eight. The auctioneer arrived a few minutes later and I was able to accomplish the IT setup before any viewers arrived. We had Croc’s providing catering at the event, and I took the opportunity in a quiet period to fortify myself with a bacon bap.
A BRIGHT START
For various reasons (to do with a combination of over-ambitious planning and an important member of staff being absent for a long period of time) this auction had some odd numbering of lots (it started at lot 741, and then there was a 50 lot gap between the end of the first section and the start of the coins at lot 901, then a massive gap after the last coin lot, no 1072 to the start of the Militaria at 1,466, then another major gap from the end of the militaria at lot 1,620 to the start of final segment at lot 1,920, with the last lot of the sale being lot 2,000), but although there was a range of almost 1,300 between the first and last lot number there were only 503 lots in the sale. We originally planned to take a short break at the end of the coin section before starting on the Militaria, but this as you will see changed part way through.
The first big success of the auction came at lot 747, three gold rings, which had been valued at £70-100 but ended up selling for £150…
Then lots 757 and 760, a ladies cigarette case and a ladies powder compact of similar styles, both esitmated at £30-40 went for £65 and £60 respectively, both to the same online bidder.
These however were a mere curtain-raiser for…
LOT 764 – A PHOTOGRAPHER’S TRIUMPH
There were indications that this elegant Mantle Clock, with a case carefully designed to show off its workings was going to do extraordinarily well, but we were all absolutely gobsmacked by what actually happened. The item had gone in with a modest valuation of £10-20, but I having noted the effort to which the makers of this clock had gone to put the workings on display created an image gallery for it which reflected this:
The opening bid was £310! Then, a bidding war between four internet bidders who all obviously saw something that eluded those who are not experts on clocks pushed this already barely credible looking price up to an eye-popping £750!!
Incidentally, just for the record, the valuer himself said that it was the photographs that did it for us, hence my title for this subsection. Here are some photographs of this item that I took during the break:
UP TO THE BREAK
After the events described above almost anything else was going to feel a little anticlimactic, but a few items fared well nevertheless. Lot 919, a forged 1791 farthing estimated at £5-10 ended up going for £35.
The other effect that the early excitement had was that we were progressing slower than normal, and in the end the auctioneer brought our midauction break forward to lot 1,000.
AFTER THE BREAK
We finished the coins, ending with lot 1072, which went to me for £4 (it is a small medallion, which I considered to be railwayana by association since it refers to Isambard Kingdom Brunel):
The Militaria section went pretty well, with most items selling, and two doing very well indeed:
The other big success in this range was lot 1584, valued at £80-100 and going for £140.
The books fared poorly, although The Royal Liverpool Golf Club by Guy Farrar which I had given a deliberately cautious estimate of £15-20 fetched £55.
The auction over, all that was left was the clear up, which was done by 3PM. I had one worrying moment when it seemed that a problem was developing with the internet connection, but fortunately it never got serious.
On Saturday the action shifts to The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich and the focus to cigarette cards. A full caftalogue listing for that auction can be viewed here.