Many of you will identify with one or more of these scenarios: Auntie’s jewellery is gathering dust in a box in the attic along with a few pictures we haven’t even unwrapped; Mother is downsizing, to go into a home, and doesn’t know what to do with all the stuff she can’t take with her; and there’s that big Chinese vase, that Grandpa bought on his travels in the 1940s, which we want to get rid of because we’ve found something we like better!
As an experienced Auctioneer and Valuer of Fine Art, Antiques and Collectables for almost 50 years, I come across these and many similar situations every day from people, at or nearing retirement, who wish to dispose of unwanted items but have little idea of value and where they can sell them. Occasionally, the items consigned to Biddle and Webb’s monthly Antiques & Interiors sales realise prices beyond their wildest dreams. Working for an old established, traditional Auction Room in the heart of Birmingham, it’s easy – and a real pleasure – to advise my clients on the value of their treasures and how to buy and sell at auction.
An ideal – and fascinating – way to reach people is by giving a talk to a local WI, U3A or other type of group whose members meet each month to listen to something of interest. Every week across The Midlands – and often further afield – I give talks to groups of between 15 and 200 people on a number of themes such as Buying & Selling at Auction, Tales from the Auction Room, The Hoarder Next Door, Browsing Antiques Shops, or Buying & Selling at Car Boot Fairs. And, in Behind the Screens, I explain the reality behind the many TV programmes that feature buying and selling antiques and collectables.
The majority of my talks begin with the popular Road Show concept where members of the audience have been invited to bring an item or two to be valued. This is followed by an entertaining hour’s talk about the business with many humorous tales and anecdotes about the characters involved, who to trust and why – and who and what to avoid. For example, we recently cleared out a large Victorian mansion near Henley in Arden. After having spent some considerable time at the property – mostly alone in the Attic examining items, thick with dust, that had lain undisturbed for more than 50 years, I found a small Italian gilt metal black slate pietra dura agate inset table casket which the owner consigned to auction and which realised £9,500. It was only then that I learned that a month or so before my visit, the family had been forced to call in an expert to exorcise a very disruptive poltergeist!
A talk is also an ideal opportunity to explain why it’s so important to use a professional Auctioneer and Valuer who will ensure that the process from initial instruction to sale and payment of the proceeds, is dealt with sensitively, correctly and professionally – regardless of whether we handle the sale of an entire Estate or a single item.
If you are responsible for finding speakers, or would like to arrange an event for a group, please call me on: 01926 641548 or 07778 595952. I should be delighted to see how we can make your event – be it daytime or evening – memorable for everyone attending.
Steven B Bruce
Fine Art & Antiques Valuer