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.

 

 

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.

A Successful Work Week

An account of James and Sons’ October auctions.

INTRODUCTION

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 1-500
Lots 1-500 laid out for auction
Day 1 setup
The layout of the ersatz auction room.
Big screen
The big screen running the slideshow.
Cig and trade cards
The last lots we would be seeing today.
Ephemera
The ephemera (lots 251-400)
Theatre poster
A theatre poster.
Postcards
Lots 1-250 (military RP postcards)

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.

175
175
213
213
227
227

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).

321
Lot 321 (two images)

321-a

353
Lot 353 – the railway outlined in this bill now forms part of a line that runs from London Waterloo to Reading.
399
Lot 399 (five images).

399-a399-b399-c399-d

 

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 601-1100601-1100StampsSmall stampsSmall stamps 2full setupBig Screen 1Penny Black close upBig Screen 291392410291000

601
The opening lot of the day as shown on the big screen.
1100
The closing lot of the day as shown on the big screen (I had the slide show on a loop, so that after showing lot 1100 it started again at lot 601)

836901

 

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.

 

850

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.

947
Lot 947 (3 images). I do small coin lots on the scanner, at 600dpi and with the scan area set to A5 landscape, which means I can only use half the scanner bed, but this saves time in the end, as they scan more than twice as quickly than if I had used the full plate). This main image is the two scans (of each face of the coin) joined together to make a single image.

947-a947-b

980
Lot 980 – the usual three images for a single coin.

980-a980-b

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.

IT setup, racecourseBig screenRostrum1201-1600 displayedShotguns 112731252View towards rostrumToysToys 2headgear15901590 - rolling stock15471547 side onView from the rostrumShotgunsMilitariaMilitaria 2Bannerdisplay caseMedalsDolls HouseView from the rostrum 2

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. 

1245
Lot 1245 (three images).

1245-a1245-b

1252
Lot 1252 (five images, as the second badge is double sided, which had to be shown.

1252-a1252-b1252-c1252-d

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.

1520
Lot 1520 (three images)

1520-a1520-b

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). 

1547
1547 (two images)

1547-a

1590
1590.
1600
1600 (two images)

1600-a

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auctions Next Week

An introdfuction to next week’s James and Sons’ auctions.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons’ October auctions will be taking place next week. A combination of factors, including a colleague being signed off sick for three months, left us somewhat behind schedule, but the printed catalogues should be arriving either today or early tomorrow, and the online catalogue is ready for viewing. The rest of this post details what will be going under the hammer on each day.

MONDAY 23 OCTOBER, SHOP

This auction kicks of with 250 lots of military themed postcards, then 150 lots of ephemera and finishes with 100 lots of cigarette/ Trade cards. Here are a few of the lots:

97
Lot 97
250
lot 250
342
lot 342
460
Lot 460

TUESDAY OCTOBER 24 – SHOP

Postal History, Stamps, Coins and Banknotes. This sale starts at lot 601 and ends at lot 1100. 

601
Lot 601
754
Lot 754
900
Lot 900
901
Lot 901 (three images)

901-a901-b

935
Lot 935 ( three images)

935-a935-b

960
Lot 960 (three images)

960-b960-a

995
Lot 995 (three images)

995-b995-a

1031
Lot 1031
1098
Lot 1098

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25TH – FAKENHAM RACECOURSE

This auction features lots 1201-1600. These lots include Jewellery, toys, militaria and other objects of interest.

1202
Lot 1202 (two images)

1202-a

1224
Lot 1224 (five images)

1224-a1224-b1224-c1224-d

1216
Lot 1216
1501
All the remaining images bafr the final one are of lots 1501 and 1502. Images 1501-a and 1502-a are both on the front cover of the catalogue. Please note that these guns are disabled – they are museum pieces (as all guns should become).

1501-a1501-b1501-c1501-d1501-e15021502-a1502-b1502-c1502-e1502-f

1500-cover
Lot 1500.

 

An Auction Deferred

An account of the rescheduled James and Sons auction which happened yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Followers of this blog will be aware that the second James and Sons August auction had to be postponed. Yesterday, at James and Sons own premises, 5 Norwich Street, Fakenham NR21 9AF was the appointed time and place for the rescheduled auction. We could not display all the stock in the limited space of our shop, so only small items made it downstairs. What follows is in account of my day and of the auction.

BEFORE THE BEGINNING

Some preliminary testing was done on Thursday to help ensure that the auction ran properly. On the Friday I caught the first bus of the morning into Fakenham. I was thus at the shop at about 7:10am, and after making a cup of coffee, getting my computer switched on and checking my emails I had a little time to spare before anyone else would be arriving, so I photographed some maps that will feature in the first of our end of September auctions. At 7:45AM I headed back downstairs, switched the downstairs lights on to acknowledge my presence to the world and was ready for action. Here are some photos from this period…

bus map
This route map can be seen at the bus stands on Oak Street, Fakenham

a1

a2
From here until the picture of the two computers are pictures relating to auction layout and setup

a3ToysEphemera

Beatrix Potter coins
The light was wrong for capturing these Beatrix Potter coins – the sun was shining directly on them.

Hats 1Hats 2

IT setup
The IT setup – the silvery computer is the master machine,, and is open on the operator screen, with my notepad, pen, catalogue and ersatz coaster (formerly the back cover of a notepad) in front of it, along with my bidding paddle. Note also the camera attached to to the other machine and positioned to focus on the auctioneer, and the brand spanking new mic in the middle.
545
The maps – this is lot 538, and although I only got up to lot 545 there are maps from this series up to lot 600, and then a few more will feature in the third and final auction of the end of September series, with lot numbers in the 1500s. I will be imaging the rest on Tuesday.

544543542541540539538

A TESTING BEGINNING

Because of the circumstances of the auction there was a button I had to press called ‘repush bidders live’ when preparing for the start of the auction. Additionally, the auctioneer had decided to start at lot 921 instead of the official lot 924, which meant that I had to manually re-offer those first three lots before the system got back in sequence. A reset request from atgmedia also contributed to a slowish start. However, once this was all dealt with the auction proceeded smoothly.

THE AUCTION AND CLEAR-UP

The militaria fared well, the antiques and bygones far better than I had expected, while the records and books were predictably quiet. Then we got into the ephmera, for which section I had two plans, as follows:

  1. If lot 1415 was available at a price within my means I would get that and my interest as a potential buyer would terminate.
    14151415-a1415-b1415-d1415-c
  2. If plan 1 failed then I would try my luck with lots 1422 and 1428, with a fair degree of confidence of getting them.

    1422
    Lot 1422 (four images)

    1422-a1422-b1422-c

    1428
    Lot 1428

    In the event the starting price for lot 1415 was too high for me (I had decided that I would come in at £25 but not if more was required, and the auctioneer wanted £30), but I was successful with plan 2, getting each item for £10.

Some of the framed prints sold as well, which is all to the good. Lot 1600, the last item in the sale went under the hammer at about 2:20PM, and once I had accomplished as much of the clear-up of the IT stuff as was possible (typically, the laptop we used as the master computer decided that before shutting down it needed to install a load of updates, so I had to leave it where it was, though now unlugged and running on battery).

After consuming my sandwiches I was able to get away, having had a tiring but very satisfying day. 

 

Auction Delayed

The rescheduling of an auction – a first in my time at James and Sons.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was the day on which James and Sons’ second August auction should have taken place. This post is about what actually happened.

TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

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. 

shop front

DAMAGE LIMITATION

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.

publicity
I know I got the date wrong on this one – I was very tired and failed to notice.

JAMES AUCTION ON SEPTEMBER 10THemailJAMES AUCTION ALERT92410011001-a1053-d1053-c10531053-a1053-b127314151415-a1415-b1415-c1415-d1600

Back to the Present: James and Sons June Auction

An account of James and Sons’ June auction.

INTRODUCTION

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.

wagtail
I was at the racecourse before my colleague arrived with a key, and this wagtail caught my eye while I was waiting.

turtleshellturtleshell2Shell3turtleshell4turtleshell5whiskiescoindisplay

Toys1
We had a lot of toys in this auction.

Toys2Coins2Proof setsdisplay case1052Coins3Toys4Cig CardsToys6Toys8Toys3

WEDNESDAY JUNE 28TH –
THE RACECOURSE

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). 

Pre-auction
This was the scene immediately after I had carried out audio and video checks, as viewed from my seat.

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:

933933-a933-b933-c933-d

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.

935
The main image…
935-a
…which is a combination of this…
935-b
…and this
935 - obverse
The first of two photos taken this morning.

935 - reverse

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. 

1052
The whole lot (main image)
1052-a
Both faces of the medal, assembled from the close-ups below.

1052-b1052-c

1052-d
Three images which combined as here show the rim in full detail (important as it is generally the rim that people look at when checking the authenticity of a medal – and this is definitely NOT done with a modern engraving machine – I have seen enough such to know whereof I write!)

1052-e1052-f1052-g

1052 composite
This combination of the whole lot and all the close ups was the feature image in an alert sent out to militaria buyers (click the link below to view it in full).

JAMES AUCTION ALERT (Militaria)

display case
In the display case at the venue.
1052
Focussing solely on lot 1052.

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.