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Crumbs! Can you guess how much this toast rack sold for at auction?

Posted on 19/06/2018 in Press Coverage

A simple toast rack snapped up by Leicestershire newlyweds more than 80 years ago -just because they liked it – has sold for 10 times its estimate at auction.

The Christopher Dresser toast rack, first designed for Hukin and Heath in 1878, was identified as a design classic by decorative arts specialist John Keightley at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers – and sparked a bidding war at auction today (June 19).

Mr Keightley said: “I put a modest estimate of £200-£400 on it as there is some slight damage but, thanks to its rarity and pedigree, it sold for £2,000.

“It did well because Christopher Dresser, who was born in Glasgow in 1834 and died in 1904, was a pioneer of industrial design based on form and function rather than decoration. Also, it was an original 1878 design embossed on the back with the words ‘Designed by Dr C Dresser’, which added to its value.”


Dresser’s designs were ahead of their time, according to Mr Keightley: “The toast rack appears as modern today as it has ever been, with Alessi producing the same design today – angular, clean and simple. Designs like this were made for the forward-thinking Bohemian elite of Victorian Britain.”

The seller, from Coalville, Leicestershire, who does not wish to be named, said: “The toast rack was bought by my wife’s parents when they got married in 1936. They chose it because they liked it – and they used it. I would guess that they didn’t pay much for it. They needed it for their first home.

“They bought it, along with a few other bits, when the contents of a Church of England vicarage in Hogarth Road, Whitwick, went up for auction.

“They had no idea it was anything special and, when we acquired it, we didn’t at first. We used it a few times bit it’s a bit wobbly and the toast fell out, so we put it away in a box.

“Later, we heard the name Christopher Dresser crop up on antiques programmes on TV and realised it could be something special.

“We took it along to a free valuation event run by Hansons at Marlborough Square Methodist Church in Coalville and were advised to let their decorative arts specialist see it.”

Mr Keightley said: “I’m delighted they did. Their experience goes to shows why people should always bring things for free valuation. So many items of historical value, left gathering dust for decades, can turn into a substantial windfall.”

The toast rack was sold on June 19 at a Decorative Arts Auction at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire. To find out more, email [email protected].

Hansons offers free valuations evert month in Leicestershire. Valuers will be at Marlborough Square Methodist Church, Marlborough Square, Coalville, on June 26, 10am-1pm, and at The Dew Drop Inn, 49 Loughborough Road, Hathern, on July 2, 10am-3pm.

Free valuations are also available at Hansons’ Etwall saleroom on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-noon. To find out more, visit www.hansonsauctioneers.co.uk.