Whilst flicking through a back issue of Country Life recently, I was delighted to chance across Huon Mallalieu’s report on a Book Sale at Tennants Auctioneers of Leyburn.

The 28th April sale, which I catalogued, featured a rare 18th century survey map of Derbyshire by Peter Perez Burdett, and a typescript proof by Sir Genille Cave-Brown-Cave of his memoirs – ‘From Cowboy to Pulpit’ (1926).

Mallalieu sheds further light on these two intriguing personalities and their unconventional lives. Fascinating stories both, well worth a read. The article in full here: Art market, May 17 2017


A trip to a hotel in rural Warwickshire last week to attend a NAVA one-day course on auctioneering.

A career change?  No, just hoping to gain some insight into how the other side operate.

NAVAWe all love a good story in this trade, and we students heard a few of those. But I think overall it was a useful experience. The course leaders, Nigel J. Hodson of Peter Francis, Carmarthen, and Robert Stones of Peter Wilson in Nantwich are experienced auctioneers and methodical and revealing on best practise in securing consignments, preparing for sales, and rostrum etiquette.

They are both of a generation that remembers mutual antagonism between auctioneers and antiques dealers, in part due to the notorious dealers’ “rings” which used to operate fairly brazenly in and around the salerooms.

Thankfully much of that antipathy has dispersed as both the wholesale and retail branches of the trade have recognised the merits of co-operation and knowledge-sharing.  Though there were a couple of side-swipes at dealers playing hardball in negotiations.

I was pleased to see Mr. Hodson heartily concur on an issue that is a particular bugbear of mine. When an auctioneer calls “my commission bidder is out” or “I’m all done on the books” – as he or she tries to squeeze one more bid from the room – it is patently unfair to that absentee bidder, and therefore bad practice.


Yet I see this happen on TV programmes fairly commonly, from supposedly respected professionals. It is frustrating as I myself often leave bids with an auctioneer before a sale if I can’t be there in person. An auctioneer’s primary obligation is to the vendor, but for confidence in the profession and in the integrity of the sale process all participants must have fair and equal opportunity.

The now regular exposure to a worldwide web audience via live bidding platforms can only help to encourage transparency. You might think that visiting TV cameras would have the same effect?  In my opinion the special consideration afforded to ‘TV lots’ (0% commissions, no reserves etc) – plus the editor’s cut inevitably distorting reality – give the viewer a false impression.  (TV publicity for the antiques trade discussed in an earlier post: https://jasperjenningsprints.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/the-television-antiques-trade/.)

On that subject of TV, I noted that not all TV shows were welcomed equally by our speakers. Apparently that is to do with certain presenters, who shall remain nameless…