Posted on: September 17, 2019

A Smashing September Auction

September is always a busy period in the auction calendar, and this month’s sale at Trevanion & Dean kicked off the autumn season in style. The bumper sale, featuring over 960 lots, boasted an eclectic mix of fine decorative items and captivating curios, each with a unique story to tell. The record-breaking auction garnered some fantastic results, as well as providing a few surprises! 

It was also the first sale for seasoned valuer and auctioneer Ian Woodward, who joins the Trevanion and Dean team from Wright Marshall. Ian certainly had an exciting induction to the team on the rostrum, as he oversaw bidders battling it out on the phones and online for a collection of signed Lowry prints, which smashed their pre-sale estimates and sold for a combined total of £21,000; as Ian explains, ‘the rise in popularity of signed Lowry prints has been astronomical over the last few years and seems to show no sign of waning anytime soon.’ Ian also headed up the furniture section which brought some astonishing results. ‘I have been selling furniture since 2003, and the market has been through a challenging time in recent years,’ Ian commented, ‘but this month’s sale was reminiscent of early days, I haven’t seen results such as this for a long time!’

Our buyers certainly seemed to be dazzled by the selection of diamonds on offer, which garnered some of the top prices of the day. One of the most anticipated lots, a fabulous pair of diamond drop earrings sold in the room to a private buyer for £8000. Other notable pieces included a classic diamond cluster ring selling for £3600, a stylish diamond bar brooch which sold for £1700, and a sparkling Victorian star brooch pendant which sold at £1300. As jewellery valuer Helena Waudby comments, ‘the diamond market has not been without its struggles this past year, but buyers must remember that relatively speaking, diamonds are still a wise investment – as this sale’s results show, they retain value very well in comparison to other areas of collecting, and have an enduring appeal.’

Some of the most staggering results of the day were achieved by two tiles by master ceramicist William De Morgan. De Morgan was inspired by the ideology of the Arts & Crafts movement instilled in him by William Morris, and the two began collaborating on designs for tiles in the late 19th century. De Morgan completed some prestigious commissions in his time, including designing decorative tile panels for exclusive P&O Liners and even Tsar Alexander II. Sadly, while his talent and ingenuity where undeniable, De Morgan was never able to make a financial success of his ceramic ventures and left his pottery in 1907 to pursue a more fruitful career as an author. As with many great artists, De Morgan’s work garnered more success posthumously, and today he is recognised as one of the leaders of the Arts & Crafts movement. This is reflected in his popularity at auction, with his tiles, particularly those decorated with animals and stylized foliage, drawing interest from a wide scope of collectors. The tiles created a bidding frenzy during the auction with buyers on the phone, online and in the room battling it out to secure them. They eventually sold for £3,800 to a UK based private collector.

Some of the most exciting results of the day came in the form of a consignment from Edge Hall in Cheshire, an accumulation of treasures amassed from the family’s travels over three centuries. One of the best results was a rather unassuming ’Staunton’ chess set by Jaques of London, found tucked away in the attic of the house; the set exceeded expectations, as bids sky-rocketed online, eventually selling for £4000. Staunton Chess sets were first made available through Jaques of London in the mid-19th century and became a huge success the world over, eventually becoming the official international standard chess set used in competitive tournaments. Jaques chess sets are highly sought after amongst game collectors and chess enthusiasts, and prices can range from a few hundred to thousands of pounds. They are recognised both for their exceptional quality and their association with revolutionizing an ancient game, with a design that is still used the world over nearly two centuries after its initial conception. 

Another oddity which performed exceptionally well on the day was a taxidermy duck billed platypus, affectionately known as ‘Bill’ to the Trevanion and Dean team, Bill was discovered by valuer Ashley Jones hiding in a linen press at Edge Hall. Amongst the thirteen lots of taxidermy specimens in the auction, this certainly was the most unique, and drew the eyes of many of the bidders both online and in the sale room. With an estimate of £500 – £800, competitive bidding on the internet eventually led to a hammer price of £1300, and Bill will be swimming his way to Holland to the lucky buyer.

This month also marked the first auction since partner Christina Trevanion took over the business, following the departure of Aaron Dean who has relocated to the North West. Over the past two months, Christina has made several new appointments to her team. Of the new team, Christina said ‘I have been delighted to welcome lots of friendly new team members, which strengthens and expands our existing cataloguing and auctioneering team, enabling us to continue offering a fantastic service to the people of Shropshire, Cheshire, Wales and the surrounding areas.’

Christina began her career at Christie’s in London, before she moved back to her native Shropshire in in 2002, working in the jewellery department of Halls in Shrewsbury for 12 years. During her time at Halls, she was spotted auctioneering by the BBC and became a regular face on daytime television, partaking in Flog it! Antiques Road Trip and Bargain Hunt. ‘Working in television has been a wonderful experience and has enabled me to do some phenomenal things that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do.’

Following the birth of her two children, Christina started Trevanion & Dean with university pal Aaron Dean in 2015. ‘It has been an incredibly busy few years’ comments Christina. ‘At times when I look back now, I honestly have no idea how I managed everything; balancing TV work whilst setting up and running a fledgling business as well as being a wife and mother to two small children – life was busy! Most working parents find it a challenge to find a good work-life balance, but I feel it is important to set a good example to my children and instil within them a strong work ethic.

‘I am also very proud to be part of an emerging band of women who are carving our own space within the industry. Starting my career within London auction houses, it was a very male dominated environment and there were few women in senior management roles to aspire to. It feels good to be part of a generation of women who are challenging the pre-conceived notion that generally women have an aversion to risk, are less competitive and therefore not as good as ‘business leaders’ – this simply isn’t true. Luckily this notion is changing, but there is still a long way to go.’  

For a full list of our auction results, click here. If you would like to consign to our October auction, drop-in to one of our free valuation days held every Monday and Friday between 9am – 5pm. For inquiries email info@trevanionanddean.co.uk or call 01948 800 202.