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.

 

 

January Auction A Huge Success

An account of Wednesday’s auction.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons had their first auction of 2018 on Wednesday, and this post tells the story of that auction. 

TUESDAY – SET UP

Most of the setup work for the auction was accomplished on Tuesday. First, some stock had to be cleared away from the tables that were to be used for the auction, and then the stock we brought down (lots 1-488, after which would be taking a break, and might bring down the second half lots if it seemed necessary) was laid out on one table, and the IT setup completed on the other. I did a preliminary test to make sure that all was working.

THE AUCTION

Everything went smoothly on the morning of the auction, and we started as intended at 10 o;clock. Lot 7, a small collection of Masonic medals, with a modest estimate of 30-50 ended up selling for £200.

7
Lot 7 (four images total)

7-a7-b

THE STORY OF LOT 17

This lot had had a lot of advance publicity, and what happend to it was crucial to the overall success or otherwise of the auction. Before Christmas I had put out various emails and press releases about this item, one result of which was an advertisement on the armourer website. It had also been the front cover item on the printed catalogue. In the run up to the auction I had received a query asking for close-ups of maker’s marks on the Russian Order of St Anne gold medal, which was the key part of the group in terms of its value. One of the two people I sent such pictures two did not respond and the other sent an exceedingly insulting response. I had been checking on the-saleroom.com andf noted that this item had 15 watchers. So, it came to time for it go under the hammer, and following the-saleroom.com standard rule of 60% of lower estimate, the opening price was £3,600. The bidding proceeded at such a pace on the internet that by the time the auctioneer had finished announcing the item £5,000 had come and gone. Eventually the hammer went down at £8,200. You can find visit the two articles I wrote about this yesterday:

  1. A specialised article focussing only on this item for military publications.
  2. A more general article for less specialist readers.

Here are some images of this lot:

Jutland 7
Lot 17

Jutland back reducednaming

russian medal - close up
The key element of the group
17-q
The maker’s mark shot

THE REMAINDER OF THE AUCTION

After that it was not going to matter much what happened for the rest of auction. As it happened there were a few more bright spots. Lot 718, a large collection of penny reds and the odd twopenny  blue, all with GWR perfins, went for £120:

718

Lot 852, one of three lots subsituted after the catalogue was printed (three Victorian era hunter watches that replaced three other less significant items) which went in to the online version of the catalogue with an estimate of £50-60 sold for £140. Here are images of all three items:

852
Lot 852, the lot that sold so well (this is a composite image showing both the face and the workings – one of four images for this lot)

852-a852-b852-c

851
Lot 851

851-a851-b

853-a
Lot 853

853-b853

Even then there was still one spectacular sale to come. Lot 864, four vintage gold-nibbed pens with some restoration required, had been expected to make £30-50, but had attracted plenty of interest before the auction, and ended up selling for £180. 

864
Lot 864
864-nibs
The nibs, imaged in response to an internet enquiry.
864-damaged lid1
Two of tghe pen ,lids were damaged (this pic and the next), again picked up on while responding to an internet enquiry.

864-damaged lid 2

 

James and Sons January Catalogue Now Available Online

Announcing that the catalogue for James and Sons’ January auction is now available for viewing online and showing some of the highlights.

INTRODUCTION

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:

67
This Trench Mace will kick of thbe auction.
Jutland 7
Lot 17
26
Zulu Spear – lot 26
2
Lot 72

2-a

LOTS 101-248 POSTCARDS

101111121159170241242243244245246247248

LOTS 249-380 COINS

315315-a315-b327327-a327-b330330-a330-b333333-a333-b344344-a344-b355355-a355-b360360-a360-b368368-a368-b

LOTS 381-500 BANKNOTES

421422423424425426427428429430431432433434435436437438

LOTS 601-849 STAMPS

There are no lots in the range 501-600. I have already covered the stamps in a previous post

LOTS 850+ SILVER AND OTHER STUFF

A mixture to end the auction…

856
Lot 856
857
Lot 857
858
Lot 858
859
Lot 859
860
Lot 860 – a close look athe markings on these pens will tell you why there are four of them in the set.
881
The next three images (lots 881, 882 and 883) are motoring badges from yesteryear.

882883

861
Lot 861 – there are 24 slides in total in the wooden box…
861-a
…of which my employer wanted close-up shots of four…
861-b
…and a very close up shot of this one to feature in the printed catalogue.
855
We end with lot 855 (four-image gallery) – a very interesting little commemorative clock.

855-a855-b855-c

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

The Last Auction Of 2017

An account of James and Sons’ final auction of 2017.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons last auction of 2017 took place at our own premises in central Fakenham on Wednesday, and in this post I tell the story of that sale.

THE PRELIMINARIES – TUESDAY

On Tuesday we moved the stock for auction downstairs, and with that laid out, and the smaller high-value lots in the vault until the morning I then brought down and set up such of the IT equipment as I could (we are a laptop down at present so I would be pressing my own machine into service once again) and carried out a brief test which suggested that all was in order and that there should be no issues. 

THE AUCTION ITSELF

I arrived at work bright and early since not even Stagecoach can contrive to have the first bus of the day run seriously late. For those living in Norfolk and uncertain regarding buses in the holiday period services will stop early on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, there will be no services at all on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and a “Saturday service” will operate from the 27th to 29th of December inclusive (and since that day is actually a Saturday presumably also on the 30th). 

Coffee made, emails checked and a few things gathered up to go downstairs I went back downstairs at 7:45AM. The IT setup went smoothly, and I had the slide show running before any bidders arrived (there were a few room bidders on this occasion). Here are some pictures from this period:

Stock 1Stock 2IT setupBig Screen

BANKNOTES AND COINS

The auction kicked off with some uncirculated banknotes which went for very high prices. Lot 43, a display book showing old and new format New Zealand banknotes, brought the curtain down on that segment, going for £440. 

Lots 44-50 were less valuable banknotes. Then lots 51-56 were very rare coins. Unfortunately the reserves had been set too high to attract bidders, with the exception of lot 51, a 1787 gold guinea which went for £600. 

The remaining lots of coins and banknotes went fairly quietly, although there were a one or two good prices achieved. 

1
Imaging these uncirculated banknotes was a fiddle. They had to be imaged through the plastic covers they were encased in to avoid damage, and the black bakcground was needed for use in the catalogue. Additionally, since both sides were required what you see are two images joined to become one.

44343-a43-d

1-p
Lot 51.

POSTCARDS

Lots 151-300 were postcards, mainly military themed, and while there were no headline grabbers in this section, most of them did find buyers. 

STAMPS

Not quite on a par with the extraordinary happenings of November 29 (see here for more details), but much better than our stamp sections have historically been. 

EPHEMERA

The last 100 lots (501-600) to go under the hammer at James and Sons in 2017 were all ephemera. I expected a fairly quiet end to the auction, and that is what eventuated. Lot 545, with a modest estimate of £20-30 went for £75.

545

Immediately before that an optimistic bid I placed on lot 544 met no opposition. At some stage I will probably do a whole post about this lot. This is the picture that everyone was able to see:

544

Here are some more pictures taken today…

Farnham and AltonHampton CourtEgham and ChertseyArrangements with other railway companiesReading, Guildford & ReigateLondon BridgeWhitchurch, Andover and SalisburyGuildford, Fareham, PortsmouthRichmond to WindsorStaines to Wokingham and WokingWimbledon to CroydonReading extensionHavant to GodalmingSalisbury to YeovilYeovil to ExeterBranch to Cambridge TownSussex and SurreyAmalgamationBasingstoke to NewburyDorsetNorth Cornwall

November Auctions

An account of a hectic and sometimes stressful work week.

INTRODUCTION

This post covers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Monday and Wednesday were auction days.

MONDAY – JAMES AND SONS, FAKENHAM

This auction consisted of 455 lots, mainly stamps, with some first day covers at the end. The feature of the day was a selection of rare Chinese stamps, which it was hoped would fare well. Arriving at the shop bright and early I had a little time to myself before anyone else arrived. The IT setup and audio/video checks went smoothly, and exactly on schedule at 10:00 the first lot went under the hammer. Here are some pictures from before the auction…

Auction stock
The Chinese Stamps were still upstairs at this stage for safety.
IT setup - shop
The IT setup
T1
The big screen.
T2
A close up of the locomotive on the big screen (at one image per 3 seconds and almost two hours of running through 455 lots on a loop you can work out how many times each lot appeared on screen while the preauction slide show was running.

THE EARLY STAGES OF THE AUCTION

Most of the lots early in the auction were very large, and they did not attract much attention. There were hints of things to come when some of the first Chinese stamps sold well. Before we get to the main meat of the day, there is one essential stop…

LOT 169

Coming a little bit before the rare Chinese stamps were due to appear this was a Japanese railway stamp, and I got it unopposed. Here are the official images that were available online:

169
This was the image that appeaqred on screen during the auction – scanned at 300dpi.
169-a
For those who were on the internet this close-up of the locomotive was the second image if they wanted to investigate more closely.

Here are a couple of pictures of it taken at home…

169 - home
The complete item
169 locomotive close up
Locomotive close up
169 locomotive - using vignette
A second close-up

THE CHINESE STAMPS

The Chinese stamps did better than any of us had dared to hope. A Chinese man living in Chelmsford had driven up tlo Fakenham (something in excess of two hours each way, though quicker than the public transport option of train to Norwich, bus/walk from Norwich station to the castle and then bus to Fakenham) to bid live, and he with some vigorous internet competition ensured that these stamps sold between them for over £10,000 (his own spend was over £9,000). Here are some the stamps at the heart of this story:

277283286285287288291292293294297298301303304305307310311312313316317319320322334336336-a

AFTER THE LORD MAYOR’S SHOW

The remainder of the auction after the last Chinese stamp had gone was anticlimactic. Once I had disconnected the IT it was time for me to switch focus for a day and a bit to…

IMAGING FOR DECEMBER

The link between these auctions and our final auction of the year, which will take place at our shop in Fakenham on December 13 is that there are some more Chinese stamps goign under the hammer. This auction will start with 50 lots of banknotes, including some very valuable uncirculated Australian and New Zealand, before proceeding to 100 lots of coins, 150 lots of military themed postcards, the stamps and some ephemera. I had already done the banknotes and one of the coins, and on the Monday afternoon I was scanning stamps. 

On the Tuesday I started on the postcards, and also did some coins. Here are some pictures of what you have to look forward to…

1
Imaging these uncirculated banknotes was a fiddle. They had to be imaged through the plastic covers they were encased in to avoid damage, and the black bakcground was needed for use in the catalogue. Additionally, since both sides were required what you see are two images joined to become one.

414253743-a43-d43

1
This 1787 gold guinea starts the coin section. This image came from 2 600dpi scans, bolted together.
1-a
As witness

1-b

1-p
I also photographed the coin, and this is the one that woulkd be my front-cover image for the printed catalogue.

1-pb1-pa

52-s
Lots 52-6 got similar treatment.

52-as52-bs52-p52-pa52-pb53-p53-pa53-pb53-s53-sa53-sb53-s153-sa153-sb154-s54-as54-bs54-p54-pa54-pb55-a55-b55-c5556-a56-b56-c56

151
Laying these postcards out to best advantage is a challenge as some are landscape oriented and some portrait.

152153154155156157158159160

301
Stamp scans…

302304306307308310311314315350351352353354355356369375379

While I was doing this the van was being loaded up to go Norwich, and as you will soon see the fact that I could not be spared from imaging to help with the process had consequences…

WEDNESDAY – NORWICH

I managed to get my intended bus, and arrived at Norwich bus station at about 7:30 AM (to arrive early enough to help with the setup and then run the IT a Norwich auction I need to be on the First Eastern Counties X1 which departs Lynn at 5:30). I walked down to the venue, arriving there at about 7:45, got the room unlocked, fired up my computer and checked my emails, and waited for my colleagues to arrive. Finally, at about 8:20, they did, having got stuck in heavy traffic on the route between Fakenham and Norwich. Once the van was unloaded it was time to set up. Unfortunately no one involved in loading the van had thought to include a multi-point extension lead, the camera or the microphone. The Maids Head were able to lend us most of what we needed, and I was dispatched (with cash provided) to purchase a usb attached web camera. My first port of call was Rymans, in the pedestrianised shopping area of Norwich, where I had to wait a few minutes for the shop to open. Rymans did not have the necessary, but they did have an assistant who was able to point me in the direction of Maplin on Castle Meadow, close by albeit in the opposite direction to the Maids Head, and I found precisely what we needed there (though it took me a few minutes – the place was organised rather strangely, at least to me). I was back at the hotel by 9:20, and fortunately there were no technical hitches in the IT setup. Here are some pictures from this early part of the day…

THE AUCTION

The books fared much better than I for one dared to hope, with those that sold going for good money. On the Tuesday, along with the imaging for December I had corrected a problem with some of our online images, deleting two images and renumbering about 25 others so that images and descriptions matched. Unfortunately, when we came to these lots on the day my editing had been over-ridden by someone at the ATG Media end of things and the wrong images were back in place. Lots 901 to 1,000, which concluded the auction were military themed postcard lots, and they sold incredibly well, one single lot going for £200. The sales made at this auction were a welcome bonus after Monday’s extraordinary success. 

The auctiuon concluded it remained only to take down the IT and reload the van. 

NORWICH

My colleague Andrew had decided that he wanted to spend some more time in Norwich and go back by bus, so before heading off for my own extra time in Norwich I showed him where to pick up the bus from. I then headed for the library, which I always like to visit when I am in Norwich and did a few other things. Here are some photographs from Norwich, some taken that day and some on the previous Thursday evening, when I was also in Norwich…

St Peter Mancroft 2
This is St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich
Light Tunnel
Next to it at the moment is this magnificent light tunnel. As you will see, Norwich have excelled themselves in the matter of Christmas lights this year.

Light Tunnel 1Light Tunnel 3Light Tunnel 2Light Tunnel 4

St Peter Mancroft clock through light curtain
This is the last of the Wednesday pics…
Castle - lit up 2
But I had taken more pictures of the Norwich Christmas lights the previous Thursday.

Davey Place lightsLights forumLight Tunnel 1Light Tunnel 2

Lights - Norwich tree
Note – just a few clumps of lights in the tree, not completely smothering it – a nice show of “treespect”

Davy Place, full darkIn the light tunnel 1In the light tunnel 2Light tunnel in full gloryLight stringlight stringsLightLooking down the light tunnel

 

Pictures From The Last Few Days

Pictures from the last few days.

INTRODUCTION

It has been three days since I last posted here, and five since I created anything new here. Just to keep things going here are some pictures that I have taken during that period.

WORK PICTURES

The pictures I have from work that I consider worth sharing come in two sections. First…

FRONTISPIECES AND TITLE PAGES

We have some very old books going under the hammer in our auction at the end of November, and our printed catalogue will feature a page of some the finest frontispices and title pages, so here is a sneak preview:

601602603604605606607608609610611612613614615616617618619624625626627628-a675676677678679680681682683684685686687688689620621622623671672673674

My second set of work related pictures are of stamps, which were done yesterday using the scanner (400dpi, full platen being the setting used).

95103104105106107112114115127141156163164166168169169-a170171172175186194195

HALF MOON

These are from a week ago – the moon in question was in a twilight sky.

Half Moon 5Half Moon 4Half moon 2Half moon 1

Squirrels

A final few pictures…

P1070167

Squirrel
It is not always possible to get a close-up of a squirrel in focus – one has to take the picture quickly!

2 for 1 on squirrelsSquirrel