Auction rooms tells stories 2 Feb 2022 Auctions News

Running an auction house is a privilege. Not only do I and my team get to spend our days with fascinating objects, but we are also fortunate to get to spend time in other people’s lives, homes and histories.

Every piece of furniture, art or jewellery that comes through our salerooms has a back story, a life lived before it arrived with us. If only the objects could talk, I often think. We would no doubt hear some fascinating tales.

For instance, the magnificent and rare Henry VIII oak livery cupboard, circa 1520, that sold in our recent Oak Auction for £20000 would be able to talk to medieval times. And I can only imagine on whom’ s shoes, the James I shoehorn (dated 1613), which recently sold for £9300 would have been used on and what it thought of them!

Auction rooms are more than just places that objects pass from one hand to another; they are places where lives and histories are relived and respected. Owning an item from the past, such as the early Special Air Service regiment beret, that was bought for £22000 a few months ago, is in part owning the life that was once lived within it.

Similarly, the signed Beatles card with the autographs of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, which sold recently for £3400, I’m sure would love to tell us how it felt to have been there at that moment!

An auction sale room is a special place. One that I encourage everybody to experience, even once. There is no space on earth that holds the same energy and excitement as a live auction. It is a place that for some dreams are made and it is always an honour to be present alongside that.

One such experience involved a very rare Dutch snuff box, which sold for £51,000. The then owner found it a drawer after her husband died. She knew nothing of its history or how her husband had come to have it. As she says, “It was just there in the drawer with no history!”

Nobody could have anticipated the interest in the snuff box and the excitement at selling it at our auction. The former owner describes the experience, “As the bidding intensified, I went numb. It was only later that reality stepped in. There was elation, generosity and warmth from everyone, and I shall never forget the occasion”.

She went on to say, “I would definitely recommend people use Bishop and Miller.  All the items I brought in on that initial day were looked at and given consideration and I was given respect well before they knew about the value of the snuff box.”

Which is exactly what is important to us, we value people and customer service above all else.

When I look back over my 20-year career in the industry, I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful and inspiring people. Recently I was honoured to have met lady and gentlemen at a valuation day, who by sharing their story with me has resulted in a somewhat unexpected outcome, and that is me running the London Marathon this year, in aid of Brain Research UK.

In our conversation it came up that the gentleman had Parkinson’s.  I have met many people in my work who have this and other awful diseases. It is often the reason people close up houses or decide to downsize. Even though I act professional, inside I do feel for our clients and all the different situations they find themselves or their loved ones in.  

On this particular day, the gentleman explained that he had volunteered to take part in a revolutionary trial, that could unlock the key to cure Parkinson’s.   When I read more about this trial and the work of the charity, I was compelled to do something and thus the idea to run the marathon in aid of the Brain Research UK was borne. I hope that fundraising for them may help in a small way in the work to find a cure for this debilitating condition.

I feel privileged to work in a profession that brings me in the heart of people’s lives and stories.

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