Announcing that the catalogue for James and Sons’ January auction is now available for viewing online and showing some of the highlights.
The catalogue for James and Sons’ first auction of 2018, which takes place at James and Sons HQ in Fakenham on January 31st is now available for viewing online (and we expect printed copies to be ready by the end of this week). The rest of this post shows some of the highlights awaiting you, category by category.
LOTS 1-100 MILITARIA
Of course this section is dominated by lot 17, the Jutland medal group (see here for more details), but that is not the only item of interest by any means:
LOTS 101-248 POSTCARDS
LOTS 249-380 COINS
LOTS 381-500 BANKNOTES
LOTS 601-849 STAMPS
There are no lots in the range 501-600. I have already covered the stamps in a previous post.
This week was auction week at James and Sons. This post covers the events of the three days.
MONDAY – JAMES AND SONS PREMISES
I arrived at our premises in Fakenham at about 7:15AM, and made a cup of coffee, checked my emails and attended to IT setup. I had time to take a few photographs before anyone else arrived.
LOTS 1-250 (POSTCARDS)
These fared reasonably thanks to the internet. Three lots in particular went way above estimate. Lots 175 was estimated at £8-12, but courtesy of an internet battle soared to £28. Lot 213 with a modest estimate of £5-8 went for £25. Lot 227 had an estimate of £8-12 and sold for £30. Here are the items in question.
All these pictures incidentally are scans, at 200dpi.
LOTS 251-400 – EPHEMERA
No high prices from this section, although lot 353 went for significantly over estimate. Lot 321 fell my way unopposed, and lot 399, which I had had an eye on also fell to me (I ventured a hopeful bid, not expecting for an instant to get the item, only because lot 353 which I had assessed as the more likely bet went elsewhere).
CIGARETTE/ TRADE CARDS – LOTS 401-500
Nothing noteworthy happened in this section. The auction finished, it was still necessary to move the items from this sale upstairs and to bring the stock (save the very large stuff) for the next day’s sale downstairs.
TUESDAY – JAMES AND SONS PREMISES
Again an early arrival gave me time to do a bit before anyone else was there. I also had time for a few pre-auction photographs.
LOTS 601-900 – POSTAL HISTORY AND STAMPS
Although this was in absolute terms a quiet period, this items fared much better than usual. The headline grabber was lot 850, which had an estimate of £40-50 but sold in the end for £85.
COINS AND BANKNOTES – LOTS 901-1100
Lot 947, which was an 1809 Demi-Franc, had an estimate of £30-50, but some vigorous internet bidding pushed the price up to £130. Lot 980, a brass token from Long Sutton had an esimate of £8-12, but attracted sufficient interest to sell for £20.
The auction concluded, it remained to render the premises something that looked more like a shop and of course to ensure that the IT stuff got the racecourse, where the stock bar a dolls house that was still in the shop had already been laid out.
WEDNESDAY – FAKENHAM RACECOURSE
My first action an arrival the venue inadvertently caused a problem. I had been equipped with a key to the venue, as it was highly likely that I would be the first James and Sons employee on the scene. Unfortunately I had not been told that an alarm had been set, much less what the alarm code was. I only realised this when I unlocked the door and heard the telltale bleep of an alarm that needed to be deactivated. Fortunately that was the only significant problem I was to have in the course of the day. The fact that I had to use my employer’s laptop as the master machine because my machine has nowhere to attach the cable that connects the big screen to a computer and the third laptop was needed by my colleague for the invoicing (which apparently could only be done on that specific machine). The trouble with using my employer’s laptop as the main machine is that goes to sleep every few minutes, which in turn means that the slide show will go blank. I had time for a bit of photography.
ANTIQUES AND BYGONES – LOTS 1201-1300
Some of these items were very interesting. Two achieved significantly more than expected. Lot 1245 was a set of four world cup 1966 placemats and four world cup 1966 coasters which had been given a modest estimate of £5-10. They actually sold for £25. Lot 1252, which was a set of two railway themed badges which I had been interested in, estimated at £8-10, caught the attention of the internet and ended up going for £20.
MILITARIA – LOTS 1301-1540
Most of the lots in this section found buyers, but not for very large amounts. There was one headline maker however. Lot 1520 was a Luftwaffe Paratrooper’s Private Purchase Dagger, estimated at £40-50, which ended up going for £85.
TOYS – LOTS 1541-1600
Again it was a case of steady rather than spectacular sales, but three items did particularly well. Lot 1547, a model train that had been valued at £5-10 ended up selling for £20 (it had been described as a Hornby, but was actually a Triang, a better name as far as collectors are concerned,). Lot 1590, which was a complete Hornby train set, and had been estimated at £20-30 went for £50. Finally, the last lot of the sale, a Star Wars Millennium Falcon estimated at £15-20 went for £30 (this was a case of patience being rewarded – the successful bidder was a chap who had travelled over from Norwich specifically to bid on that one item and waited out the entire day’s selling until it came up).
THE FINAL FURLONG
After the last lot had sold, and the last payment from a room bidder had been taken it was time for the clear up, which was accomplished swiftly. Back at the shop, once everything had been unloaded from the van I produced a printed list of online bidders to bring my working week to a close.
Welcome to this little post about my work at James and Sons. There are two main parts to this post – one features an event from the last of the September auctions, while the second deals with the upcoming October auctions.
ON THE POWER OF INTERNET BIDDING
On Thursday I put out a press release with the title “The Power of Internet Bidding”, which focussed on lot 1301 from our previous auction. On Friday someone from Archant (the media company who publish The Eastern Daily Press among others) asked a number of follow-up questions, so I expect a short piece to appear in the EDP before too long. Here is a screenshot of my original press release, along with the image used therein and a link to the document:
An account of the three James and Sons auctions that started this week.
This week started for me with three auctions on successive days, the first two at our premises in Fakenham and the third at The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich. This post covers the three days in order.
DAY 1: MONDAY
Reorganising the shop to look like an auction venue and setting out the stock for this auction had been done on Friday by myself and a colleague. Thus, when I arrived on Monday morning the only set up work that was required was the electronics and IT stuff.
I managed to get everything set up before anyone else arrived and to verify that the sound and video were working. Here are some photos from this period:
THE AUCTION ITSELF
There was a hitch after the first few lots when the master computer decided to install a load of updates, but we got back up and running again without too much fuss. The military RP postcards that started the auction fared OK, the ephemera and cigarette cards fared poorly (although lot 341 found a buyer – me).
The maps which finished the auction off fared well at first, with several going for big money, but the ex-atlas maps that formed lots 538-600 did not do so well. Lot 553 fell to me.
This was always going to be the quietest of the three auctions, since it featured postal history, stamps and first-day covers, none of which fare particularly well. However that did not make my day any less busy since by the end of it the shop needed to look more like a shop and less like an auction room, and the van had to be loaded with all the stuff that was going to Norwich the following day.
The last item went under the hammer just after 12:00, and by the end of the day the van was loaded and with the sole exception of the big screen still being downstairs the shop was as it had been on Friday morning before I got to work on it. Here are some pictures from this second day:
The cost of a single fare on the X1 (I had a week’s ticket for Stagecoach buses) having been obtained on Tuesday I duly caught the 5:30AM bus for Norwich, and arrived at the venue at about 7:30. My colleague who had the IT/ electronics stuff (bar my computer, being used today as we needed three and it was the only portable computer bar the two we regularly to use to which we had access) arrived a few minutes later and we did that side of the setup. The auctioneer arrived with the van full of stock some time later, and we did the rest of the setup.
The day went very well. The first big sale was lot 1,159, which fetched £80, but many other lots had sold for small amounts by then (this sale started from lot 1,051).
It continued to the case that most lots sold albeit not for huge amounts. Lot 1,301 achieved the biggest sale price of any individual lot over the three days – £450.
Lot 1357 was a collection of masonic regalia, and it so happened that a high ranking mason was present in the auction room and bought it.
Lot 1439 was of personal interest but the asking price was too high for me, so I had to let it go.
However, a few moments later I saw a more satisfactory outcome. Lots 1449 and 1450 were military history reference books put in by me (I had only intended to put one lot in, but I was persuaded to try both). I was prepared for these items not to sell, so when the lots went for £12 each (to a room bidder who had looked at them in the flesh) I regarded this as unequivocally good news.
There were few more moments of note before the auction ended at lot 1543:
Once the van had been loaded I was able to take my leave, and headed for the Norwich Millennium Library to see what books I could borrow.
It was an exhausting three days, but quite satisfying. Monday was a bit quiet and Tuesday exceedingly so, but enough good things happened on Wednesday to make up for this.
The rescheduling of an auction – a first in my time at James and Sons.
Yesterday was the day on which James and Sons’ second August auction should have taken place. This post is about what actually happened.
I arrived at Fakenham Racecourse precisely as planned, which was about the last occasion on that day that anything could be said to have gone to plan. We were slightly late getting things set up. Then my computer failed to connect to the racecourse’s internet as their set up is not secure enough for my computer’s liking. Another laptop having been located it then became apparent that we would not be able to run video, although the audio seemed fine.
Just after lot 923 went under the hammer we finally and definitively lost our audio as well. Discussion with the folks at the-saleroom.com, which included them being given remote access to one of our computers failed to resolve the situation, and after 15 minutes attempting to resolve the situation we decided that the only option was to postpone the auction, so on Friday 8th September at 10AM we will be having an auction at our shop which will start at lot 924 and end at lot 1600.
Once the we had got the stuff back to the shop we got the auction officially rescheduled and I sent out a bulk email and a press release about the new auction. Here are both documents, and all the images used in their creation save for that of the record.
An account of James and Sons’ July auction – 1,500 lots over three days.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week James and Sons had its July auction. 500 lots went under the hammer on each day.
This first day of the sale featured coins, banknotes, cheques, P&N covers and militaria. There were quiet moments in most categories, but also plenty of stuff sold, some of it doing very well. Here are some pictures from this first day:
Along the way, lot 377, one of the P&N covers, was knocked down to me:
With stamps, postal history, a few postcards and first-day covers going under the hammer this was always likely to be the quietest of the three days and it was, although there were a few good sales. Here are some pictures from day 2:
With postcards, cigarette & trade cards, ephemera, books, records and some interesting railwayana this was the day that we expected to go best, and it did. After a quietish start with the postcards, the cigarette and Liebig cards attracted in plenty of online bidders, some of the ephemera did very well, and both the large boxes of railway books found a buyer (someone who I had been in email contact with following a query about the contents of one of the boxes – I take the fact that she bought both boxes full as a definitive judgement as to the adequacy of my response!). I was also relieved because of its weight to see lot 1451 find a buyer. Lot 1379 went to me.
After a few minutes spent making the shop look more like a shop and less like an auction venue and a few more minutes spent consuming my sandwiches I finished up by adding details of those who had actually madce bids to the client database and printing out a complete list of those who had registered to bid online (196 of them on this occasion).
Here are some pictures relating to this third day:
Overall across the three days the total hammer price for sold items was just over £10,000, and while some of these were owned by external vendors, meaning that our gains are limited to the lotting fees, vendors commission and buyers premium, many were from our own stock. At the end of August we will be having auctions at our shop and also at Fakenham Racecourse.
Having completed my series of posts about Scotland, I am now returning to the present with an account of James and Sons’ June Auction, which happened earlier this week.
THE AUCTION SCHEDULE
To set the scene for the rest of this post, the auction was arranged to run in two parts. Lots 1-600 went under the hammer at our own premises in central Fakenham on Monday June 26th, while lots 701-1300 were auctioned at Fakenham Racecourse on Wednesday June 28th. The Tuesday was set aside for getting things set up down at the racecourse, since experience had taught us that combining this with a day of auctioning at the shop was not a goer.
MONDAY 26TH – NORWICH STREET
The set up was accomplished fairly straightforwardly, and the sound and video checks went swiftly and easily. The auction got under way with 100 cigarette card lots, then 100 postcard lots, then some general ephemera, some numismatic and philatelic covers and ending with the stamps. The day started quietly, with the cigarette cards attracting very little interest and the postcards not much. It was the numismatic and philatelic covers that provided the only consistent sales of the day.
TUESDAY 27TH – SETUP DAY
We had loaded the first van load of stuff for the racecourse at the end of the previous week, so I headed straight from the bus to the racecourse to help unload that. This done and some stuff unloaded from the boss’s car it was back to the shop to load up the van for the second time. This van load then went to the racecourse without me, as I would be of more use working at the shop than down there. Then one of my colleagues was left alone at the racecourse and so I walked back down there to minimise the period for which this situation continued (the person who could drive the van was going to be at the shop for half an hour at least, and I could walk it in much less time than that). Finally, after a few final things had been brought down to the racecourse I got a lift back to the shop. At the end of the day I locked the shop, handed my key to a colleague who would need it on the morrow and headed home. Here are some pictures from the setup.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 28TH –
This was a very tiring day. It was raining heavily most of the time, including for the entire duration of the walk from Fakenham town centre to the racecourse in the morning.
We had been assured by the racecourse that they now had working wifi, but this proved to be an optimistic assessment and we had to use a wired connection, which dropped out four times in the course of the day (fortunately never for very long).
The early lots passed quietly, but then with lot 633 the first tranch of toy lots went under the hammer, and the internet bidders got busy, with three figure prices the rule rather than the exception. The ‘Manod’ steam toys later on also sold spectacularly well. After a few books and related stuff went under the hammer it was time for a few jewellery lots, which also sold well. Then it was into the coins, which started with some proof sets which fetched remarkable prices.
LOT 933: THE BEST LAID PLANS OF
MICE AND MEN GANG AFT AGLEY
When you see the image gallery for this lot you will realise why I had had my sights on it to the exclusion of all else in this auction:
Unfortunately from a personal point of view I had competition, and although I bid up to £40, when that final bid of mine was topped I conceded defeat.
LOT 935: ROMAN STYLE COINS
Although these were not the genuine article I decided that at next to nothing they were worth securing as a tiny consolation for the disappointment of a few moments earlier.
The coins continued to sell well. After the coins it was time for some militaria. Lot 1051 fetched a good price, and then came lot 1052 fetching the only four figure price of the auction.
The auction finished with 100 miscellaneous lots, which went fairly quietly, although even these attracted some interest. After Monday we had needed Wednesday to be a successful day, and it was.
For us there was still the clearing up to be done, but even that was accomplished sufficiently swiftly that I was able to get the 16:37 bus home. This departed late, but for an acceptable reason – the driver was resolving a situation created by another driver who was guilty of dereliction of duty – he had arrived from Wells, let off passengers, switched his destination to “Sorry Not In Service” and had then dashed off without picking up passengers. Stagecoach track their buses, and identified that this one had been parked up just outside Fakenham, and the rogue driver who by his selfishness had let down about 10 passengers was ordered back into service. This same thing had happened the previous day according to the waiting passengers except that he had got away with it, the passengers getting the later bus.