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Why buttons and sticks as well as silver or diamonds could spark an auction windfall

Posted on 07/05/2019 in Press Coverage

The world of antiques fascinates people for many reasons, not least because they secretly hope they may have something gathering dust at home that’s worth a fortune, writes Charles Hanson.

I do countless valuations every year and nothing gives me greater pleasure than telling someone their forgotten treasure is potentially worth a lot of money.

So, are you sitting on something special? There’s no better way to understand what’s selling well at auction than to study sale results.

Our Spring Fine Art Auction delivered impressive hammer prices with jewellery, watches, silver, ceramics, paintings and books selling for thousands of pounds.

One object that sparked major interest was Lot 1187, a stylish circa 1910 Wiener Werkstatte spoon designed by Joseph Hoffmann. It was contested to £3,600 from a low estimate of £800 and was won by an Austrian phone bidder.

It was sought after because Hoffmann was a founder of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna workshops), a production community of visual artists in Vienna, Austria. Their work is highly desirable today.

However, silver of all kinds can achieve impressive results. Delve into your cupboards as we often come across long-forgotten wedding presents kept for best, still pristine in their boxes.

Jewellery delivers strong prices too because buyers like the variety and value of buying at auction, plus gold and diamonds are rising in value. For example, Lot 14, a diamond and emerald three-stone ring with a 2.0 carat emerald and 1.40 carats of diamonds sailed past its £5,000 upper estimate to reach £7,400.

Pottery is a rising star and Lot 2097, a circa 1810 Prattware model of a standing horse, formed part of a consignment of early English rustic pottery. It sold for £1,600.

Quirky collectables have their place, too, and a set of nearly 30 ornithology-inspired walking canes by celebrated cane maker Ian Taylor fetched £4,200.

Even buttons can earn a pretty penny Yes, really. You may have something to delight collectors in a sewing box passed down through the generations. Our spring auction saw the sale of the privately-owned Lloyd Marlow Buttons Collection. Gathered over 20 years, the buttons sold for a total of £7,900.

Any interesting antique clocks on the mantelpiece? Lot 3003, an unusual novelty late 19th Century bronzed desk clock in the form of a windmill - complete with rotating sails - made £1,1,50.

When it came to furniture several items consigned from The Hall, near Ashbourne, did well. Lot 3225, a set of 14 George III mahogany dining chairs, circa 1770, sold for £5,000 and the associated dining table, circa 1820, made £3,000.

Right now, we are witnessing a surge in demand for contemporary artwork. Lot 4062, a work of modern art, stood out from the crowd. It was found languishing in a Leicestershire academic institution’s cupboard and depicted an unidentified, rather frazzled botanical study. A faint signature revealed the work to be by one of Australia’s most celebrated 20th Century artists, Sir Sidney Nolan (1917-1992). Tentatively estimated at £2,000-3,000, it sold for £8,000.

Designer vintage watches are hot property right now. It has become a collectors’ market as rising prices mean they are a good investment. The highest single price for a watch was achieved by Lot 351, a gents, circa 2017, 18ct gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch which made £19,500.

If there are no jewels or designer watches tucked away at home, perhaps a sought-after book could be your auction star. Our thriving Library Department, led by Jim Spencer, regularly makes international news and his auctions have become key events in the world of antiquarian books, maps and prints.

In our spring sale, a single-owner collection of 350 copies of ‘The Complete Angler’ by Izaak Walton made just under £10,000. Apparently, Jim was dreaming of fish by the time he’d hooked the last book into the catalogue.

However, the object that grabbed the biggest headlines was Swell’s Night Guide Through the Metropolis, published in 1841, a rare first edition listing clubs, pubs, bars and theatres where ladies of the night could be found. It sold for £4,000.

Entries are invited until June 7 for Hansons’ Summer Jewellery, Watches, Silver, Fine Art and Library Auction. We offer free valuations at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on Wednesday, 5-7pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-noon. To arrange a private valuation, email [email protected]