A Successful Day At Fakenham Racecourse

An account of yesterday’s auction at Fakenham Racecourse.

INTRODUCTION

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. 

GETTING THERE

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. 

Mute Swans
Crossing the Wensum en route to the racecourse I spotted this pair of mute swans enjoying the sun.

Mute Swans II

Mute swans approaching the bridge
This bridge across the Wensum gives Bridge Street, Fakenham its name.

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…

747747-a

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.

757
Lot 757 (three images)

757-a757-b

760
Lot 760 (two images

760-a

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:

764
The main image, showing the whole clock.
764-a
This metal plaque was obviously of some significance, hence a close-up photograph of that.
764-b
And since the makers had been so determined to make the workings visible I devoted no fewer than four photographs to ensuring that thsi was reflected in my online image gallery.

764-c764-d764-e

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:

Clock IClock IIClock IIIClock IV

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.

919919-a919-b

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):

10721072-a1072-b

The Militaria section went pretty well, with most items selling, and two doing very well indeed:

1552
With this lot of badges being sold as one I could not spare the time to provide close-ups of all the badges…
1552-a
…so I nselected a couple of what I considered to be good ones…
1552-b
…the lots had been valued at £100-200, but interest possibly stoked by my choice of close-ups, pushed the final price up to £300.

The other big success in this range was lot 1584, valued at £80-100 and going for £140. 

1584
Please note that the fact that we as auctioneers sometimes handle Nazi memorabilia does not mean that any of us entertain anhy sympathy for Nazi ideology.

1584-a

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. 

19311931-a1931-b1931-c1931-d

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.

A Three Day Auction Extravaganza

An account of James and Sons’ April auction – very successful overall, and to my immense relief free of any technical issues.

INTRODUCTION

This week saw James and Sons’ April auction, a three day affair on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Overall it was very successful, with a couple of disappointments, but lots of sales. 

DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, BOOKS AND EPHEMERA

In order to avoid being rushed during the preliminaries I caught the first bus of the morning, and got to the shop at 7:10AM. I attended to an urgent query first thing, and then it was time to complete the IT setup. To my great relief there were no hitches at all, and everything was in working order. During this period the auctioneer also briefed me about the May auction, and what was required in terms of imaging a very large quantity of military badges. In view of this I decided that I would have to leave some of the railway photographs unimaged, although it was a necessity from an ethics point of view to image lots 1203-12 as I was intending to buy a couple from that range, and it would not do for there to be any suggestion of influencing things in my favour by not making images available to the public. 

We got underway bang on schedule at 10AM, and while there were no headline making prices a decent quantity of the sporting memorabilia did sell. Then came some books, and a few big sales. Lot 260 had an estimate of £50-75 but vigorous internet bidding pushed the final price up to £220.

260
Lot 260 – old and rare, and a big hit (two images)

260-a

Willie Hoppe’s “Thirty Years of Billiards”, lot 279, was in with an estimate of £20-30, but caught the eyes of online bidders to such an extent that the final hammer price was £180!

279
Lot 279 (three images)

279-a279-b

Less dramatically, lot 282, Levi Riso’s “Billiards in a Lighter Vein” had an estimate of £15-20 and actually fetched £30.

282
Lot 282 (two images)

282-a

Lot 302 had an estimate of £10-20 and went for £30.

302
Lot 302 (three images).

302-a302-b

Near the end of the first day lot 340, a curious little item, attracted no interest from anyone other than me:

340
Lot 340 – my first purchase of this auction.

340-a

After lunch I started work on the badges for the May auction.

DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA

Another early arrival, and another hitch-free preliminary before going live at 10AM. We had three coin buyers in the room, and some internet interest, so the coins sold well. Lots 475, 501 and 695 all went signifiantly above estimate, and most of of the other coin lots also found buyers.

475
Lot 475
501
Lot 501 (two images)

501-a

695
Lot 695

We had a 15 minute break between the coins and the militaria, which kicked off in style with lot 700. Lots 704, 705, 711, 719, 727, 761, 802, 823, 824, 828, 830, 831, 832, 837, 838, 844, 846 and 847 all also went significantly over estimate, and almost none of it remained unsold. 

700
Lot 700 (two images) – £470 hammer price

700

704
Lot 704 (four images) – est £100-200 actual hammer price £440!

704-a704-b704-c

705
Lot 705 (four images) est £60 – 80, actual £120

705-a705-b705-c

711
Lot 711 (two images) – estimate £15-20, actual price £55

711-a

719
Lot 719 0- estimate £35-40 – actual price £85.
719-a
This close up of the two rings was in response to a query.
727
Lot 727 – est £15-20, actual £50
761
Lot 761 est £60-80, actual £150.
802
Lot 802 – only just above top estimate, but the buyer was somebody to whom I had sent an image of the reverse of this badge in response to a late query.

823-a

823
Lot 823 – a holster with no gun – est £10-15, actual £28.
829
828
831
831
832
832
837
837
838
838
844
Lot 844 – These images (alo incl those for 846 and 847) were suppliued by the vendor, along with descriptions

844-a

846
846
847
847

DAY THREE: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY POSTCARDS

I arrived early once again, did some badge imaging and then paid a visit to Tony’s Deli (Thursday is market day in Fakenham, and this food stall is excellent value for money). For the third straight day there were no hitches in the preliminary stage – although I was not especially happy about doing the official sound check at 9:57, not least because I already knew it was working. A couple of early postcard lots (856 and 857) achieved big prices, and most of the postcards found buyers. 

856
Lot 856 sold for £80
857
Lot 857 sold for £100

The other notewaorthy postcard lot was 1047, which became my second purchase of the auction. I will at some stage be giving this lot a whole post to itself, but here are some pictures for the present:

1047
These are modern reproductions rather than original pictures, hence why no one else showed any interest in this item.

1047-a

ML ex 1047
An old Metropolitan line train near Wembley.
NL ex 1047
Abstract art featuring a Northern line train of 1959 stock
PL ex 1047
A picture of one of the original ‘gated stock’ trains that ran services on what was then the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway – this scene would have taken place in 1906 or not long after.

The Railway Photographs did not attract any interest, although this was not helped by the fact that the auctioneer was hurrying through them. The only three to sell were all bought by me – lot 1071 (locomotive at Haworth), 1208 and 1209 (respectively arriving at and leaving Mallaig – for more on this journey go here):

1071
The images available to the public (three per lot – nine in total).

1071-a1071-b12081208-a1208-b12091209-a1209-b

1071h
And to finish, now that the items are bought an paid for, unwatermarked images taken at home (three in total)

1208

1209h
The departure from Mallaig, with Skye visible in the background.

A few more badges imaged for the May auction, and I was able to make my last ever journey on a Stagecoach X29 (on Tuesday, when I return to work it will be on a Lynx Bus number 49, since squillionaire bus company Stagecoach have deemed their Norfolk services insufficiently profitable and bailed out on them),.

Imaging For a Three Day Auction

A heads up about James and Sons’ April auction – a monster three-day affair.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons’ April Auction will be spread over three days – the 24th, 25th and 26th. I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week so that we could get the catalogue to the printers and had enough images done to upload it to the-saleroom as well. Then, after some negotiation at the end of Wednesday I also went in yesterday to do another day’s imaging. In the rest of this post I will take you through some of the highlights of this monster sale.

DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, EPHEMERA AND BOOKS

Lots 1-250 consists of sporting memorabilia of various types, including speedway, football, tennis and cricket. Here are a few highlights from that section:

1
Lot 1
208
Lot 208 – the signature on this scorecard is that of Zimbabwean fast bowler Heath Streak
92
Lot 92 – Some Tennis stills of recent vintage.
190-a
Lot 190 (two images). This was the first FA Cup final played at Wembley, just a fe weeks after the stadium was completed, and for the record Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United to claim the silverware. This item will fetch in the high hundreds or possibly even into four figures.

190

Most of the books and other ephemera are fairly unremarkable, but here are a couple of highlights from that section:

332
Lot 332 (three images)

332-a332-b

340
Lot 340

340-a

DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA

Both these categories are already attracting attention. A few coin highlights:

511
Lot 511
514
Lot 514
539
Lot 539
540
Lot 540
464
Lot 464
464-a
A close-up of the big coin – it is not often that one sees a coin with a map on it.

Highlights from the militaria section:

716
Lot 715 – this Naval Ensign flag is so huge that I had to spread it out on the floor of the shop and stand on a chair to get it all in shot.
716-a
The print on the edge of the flag
761
Lot 761
762
Lot 762
763
Lot 763
764
Lot 764
768
Some interesting plaques.

769770771772773774

DAY 3: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY PHOTOGRAPHS (PART 1 OF THE W A SHARMAN ARCHIVE)

I have imaged all of the postcards, but I am only about one-third of the way through the Railway photographs which will end this auction. Here are some highlights from the postcard section:

997
Lot 997
1009
Lot 1009
1018
Lot 1018
1022
Lot 1022 (two images)

1022-a

1040
Lot 1040 – I have already answered one enquiry about this lot.
1047
Lot 1047

1047-a

1048
Lot 1048

1048-a

1050
Lot 1050 – the last postcard lot.

I have been imaging the railway photographs by using the scanner, at 400dpi. I image the photograph itself, the typed label on the reverse, and combine those to form the master image, and when I have a decent number of such images I watermark them so that unscrupulous operators cannot cheat us by printing out the images on photo quality paper. Here are some of the highlights from the watermarked images:

105810631067-a10701075107610771079108010841090109410971099

I finish with a couple of pictures which have extra features of interest:

1071
This one has Bronte connections – not only is this Haworth, where they lived, Branwell Bronte worked on the railways briefly (he was based at nearby Luddenden Foot for the record)
1091
Lot 1091 – a photographer’s pick – note the clever use of the arch to frame the approaching train.

A Tough Three Days

An account of a tough few days at work.

INTRODUCTION

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

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. 

THE AUCTION

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.

794795

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.

966
A six image gallery from work

966-a966-b966-c966-d966-e

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)>
P1120460
A close-up shot taken at the same time.
P1120466
Lot 966 displayed on the big screen
SJI
Note the insert, which tells us what this cover is all about – this is the first of the images I took today.

SJIIISJIISJIVSJVISJVIISJVIIISJIXSJV

AFTER THE FIRST AUCTION

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. 

WEDNESDAY

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

POST AUCTION

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. 

THURSDSAY

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.

 

 

Setting The Stage For Tomorrow And Monday

Setting out my stall for tomorrow and Monday, answering one problem and setting another. Also demonstrating the creation of a poster.

INTRODUCTION

Between work, an important meeting on Tuesday and editing photographs from last weekend I have not been able to put up any blog posts since Monday. This post will set out what is on the agenda for tomorrow and Monday, give a solution to one problem and set another. 

UPCOMING

I have already produced two posts in my “Autism Events” series, which take that story up to the end of the Norwich event (see here and here), and covering Saturday’s event in London will certainly take two posts, possibly three. Additionally the photographs I have of the journey between King’s Cross and Uxbridge will form the backbone of a couple of posts (at least) on my London transport themed website. 

A SOLUTION

In Midweek Medley III I posed the following problem:

Flip

Below is the answer and a published solution from brilliant.

C

Blan

A NEW PROBLEM

Another one from brilliant:

SF

CREATING A RAILWAYANA POSTER

This is one of the tasks I had to perform at work this week. I actually produced two versions due to a dispute over which photograph to use as the official sample. The brief was to produce a poster that looked like the front cover of a catalogue, advertising the fact that part 1 of the W A Sharman collection of  iconic steam locomotive photographs will be going under the hammer:

Dent Head Viaduct main
This was the choice of former railway worker Paul, one with which I am in full agreement…

Dent Head Viaduct - Label

Nicholas Nickleby main
…but auctioneer David liked this one, so I produced two versions of the poster. These images were obtained by scanning the original photographs at 600dpi.

Nicholas Nickleby Label

SharmanSM1
This is a screenshot of my preferred version.
Flyer 2
I also produced flyers for Paul to use at an event he was attending.

Flyer 1

Below are the links to the original word documents.

Sharman poster 1

Sharman poster 2

In Between Auctions

Brief mentions of last week’s auctions and a longer look ahead to the March auction.

INTRODUCTION

Last week James and Sons had two auctions, a small postcard auction on Tuesday and a much larger Postal History and Ephemera Auction on Wednesday. We are now moving towards completing the catalogue for an auction on March 28th which will feature a wide variety of stuff. We have snow around at present, which is provoking the usual British display of wimpiness about rough weather – I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Swaffham this morning but it has been cancelled due to concerns about the weather. This was the view out of my door at 8:30 yesterday morning as I set off to catch the bus to work.

P1110743

The view is similar today.

THE POSTCARD AUCTION

With only 134 lots going under the hammer this sale was over and done with quickly. Most of the lots found buyers.

EPHEMERA AND POSTAL HISTORY

The centrepiece of this auction was a collection of the Ecclesiastical and Political Correspondence of the Rev J Marriott. The people currently in charge of the property he bought had got wind of this collection, which meant some big money sales, because they were determined to secure as much of it as they could to reunite it with his old home. Lot 18 on its own went for over £2,000:

stock
The stock for this auction as displayed in the shop.
18
The original image of lot 18. It must have taken a lot of brass neck to produce this petition.
Lot 18
Lot 18 in its folder
Big Screen
The big screen.

THE UPCOMING AUCTION

Our auction on March 28th will start with some sporting memorabilia, including a framed ticket for the 1923 FA Cup Final (the first to be played at Wembley, just three weeks after that stadium was completed). For the record Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United to win that year’s FA Cup. I do not yet have a lot number for this item, but it will be early in the auction.

A standard price for a ticket from this fixture in this condition is in the region of £800.

We have some old fishing reels and som billiards stuff as well…

23
Lot 23 (two images, a sample of the fishing reels)

23-a

44
The billiards memorabilia begin at lot 44 with the first of two scoreboards

4545-b

50
From lot 46-58 inclusive are cues, first four lots of large numbers of loose cues, and then individual cues in cases or bags, starting with lot 50 pictured here.

50-a5458

59
Then from lot 59 to 71 we have sets of balls – note that in billiards there are two cue balls, one of which is distinguished from the other by the presence of a black spot, and the only other ball used is one red one.

63676870

We also have some bygones, of which I will feature a few that particularly caught my eye while I was imaging them:

124
Lot 124 – the fiugurines are made of some sort of balck ceramic, and as the second image, a close-up of two them shows, they are of very good quality.

124-a

147
Lot 147 – a brass fly…
147-a
…that can be used to store trinkets.
146
Lot 146, a brass grasshopper…
146-a
…which is also a mini stapler.

Other categories featured include toys, crockery, and though I have not yet had any to image, stamps. Here are some toys and crockery…

262
Toys in a box that has been disguised to look like a book (lot 262)

262-a262=b262-c

265-a
Lots 264 and 265 occupy the next four images.

264265-b265

301
The next 12 images encompass lots 301-4.

301-a301-b302302-a302-b303303-a303-b304304-a304-b

346
Lot 346 (two images)

346-a

350
Lot 350 (again two images).

350-a

SOME EXPERIMENTS IN WATERMARKING

We have a vast collection of railway photographs, taken with a Soviet-era camera which is also in our possession and will be going under the hammer. Obviously we need to identify our images of these pictures as just that – our images – in order to stop unscrupulous types from printing the pictures out for no more than the cost of ink and the appropriate paper. Hence, I have been looking into watermarking the online pictures. I am aiming at marking the pictures in a way that will not interfere with anyone viewing them, but will prevent anyone from cheating. Here is a sample of what I have arrived at us possibly the best solution:

LNER3s1

The positioning of the watermark does not spoil the picture, but does prevent it from being removed, since cropping the image sufficiently to eliminate it most certainly does damage the picture.

Imaging For January Auction Under Way

An account of my work on the stamp section of James and Sons January auction.

INTRODUCTION

Over the course of Thursday and yesterday I was finally able to start the work of imaging for James and Sons January Auction (30th and 31st January). I was dealing with stamps, and most of the rest of this post deals with the two days work in question.

A BANNER ON THE ARMOURER WEBSITE

One of the publications I contacted regarding a very rare Jutland medal group that will feature in our January auction was The Armourer, and although we were too late for their print deadline they agreed to put something on their website. Here is a screenshot of the top of their current homepage…

Armourer

STAMPS – FRAMEWORK

The stamp lots in this sale are numbers 601-850. Over the course of the two days I imaged all the lots, moved them to where they were being stored prior to auction, labelled said storage area and made sure that this section was as complete as I could make it. Some of the items had already been imaged, and in those cases I located the images and transferred them to the new file. Otherwise I photographed the large items and scanned the small ones. 

THURSDAY – LARGE ITEMS

I dealt with the big stuff first, and when that was all done I went through the smaller items deciding which could be scanned and which needed photographing, and photographed the latter, leaving the scanning and final organisation for the Friday.

601612665666666-a667-a667-n667668669670700726731732733800848

 

FRIDAY – SMALL ITEMS AND ORGANISATION

My employer was at a collector’s fair in Diss, leaving me in charge at the Fakenham end of things. I scanned the small stamp lots, checked the image sequence for gaps, noted the gaps, created labels for the shelves where the stamps were being stored, and also for the binders and boxes containing the smaller stamp lots (A4 size sheets in binders, smaller lots in boxes). Labelling the binders involved measuring the width of the spines so that I knew how wide each line of text could be and could set appropriate margins. At the very end I created a document to go in the front of a binder containing stamp lots that had not been given their numbers which detailed which numbers in the stamp range had not been used thus far. This done it remained only to finish my ersatz ice-coffee (a regular cup of coffee which because I had not had time to drink it had cooled to become an ice-coffee!) wash the cup, make sure all the images were in the auction file, close my computer down properly, gather my stuff, turn out the lights, activate the alarm and lock the place up. 

619635647649674719720

748
The secondary images for this lot and lot 749 were my only photographs of the day.

748-a748-b748-c749749-a749-b749-c749-d777784808812839840