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Porsche 911 wins the race to be top lot in our Summer Fine Art Auction - but a £20 lot surprised us too

Posted on 10/07/2019 in Press Coverage

A classic Porsche 911 convertible – ravishing in red from 1985 - took pole position in our Summer Fine Arts Auction, writes Charles Hanson.

It roared past diamonds, wonderful art work and sensational ceramics to be our highest selling lot, even though it needs some TLC to put it back on the road.

The desire to own a classic car with pedigree saw phone, internet and room bidders battle up to £27,000 from a low estimate of £8,000.

A room bidder won the day and it’s good to know this vintage model in guards red livery with its black leather interior, 3164cc engine and 135,000 miles on the clock will now be restored to its former glory.


It was not the only car from a sought-after manufacturer to find a new home. Lot 4294, a 2008 silver Mercedes C220 Elegance CDI Estate with 80,000 miles showing on the clock, sold for £2,700.

As a vintage car fan, I was delighted to see these motors roar to success. It demonstrates how the antiques and collectables world is changing. Yes, you’ll find classic furniture, quality ceramics and paintings but vintage cars and motorbikes spark growing demand from today’s collectors too.

But the Porsche was far from the only star in our Summer Fine Art, Jewellery and Silver sales. Hot on its heels was an 8.5 carat diamond solitaire ring which sold for £26,000. Another lot to spark strong phone bidding was a suffragette’s hunger strike medal from 1912 which swept to £12,500.

Other jewellery lots to do well included a stunning Liberty and Co emerald and seed pearl set fringe necklace, circa 1900, which made £6,400, and a diamond and black onyx white gold bracelet which sold for £4,000.

Gold prices are high at the moment and our jewellery team noted that several pieces featuring the precious metal comfortably achieved more than £2,000, such as an 18ct gold bracelet which reached £2,100.

So, what else enticed bidders to make the gavel fall in their favour? Well, lot 4000, a signed oil painting by British artist Edward Brian (1910-1974), entitled Cottages near Martham, sold for £7,200.

Then there was Lot 4072, a signed oil on canvas by Belgium artist Francois Joseph Navez (1787-1869). Called Far Away Thoughts it was dated 1851 and made £4,800

Lowry fans will be interested in Lot 4173. A Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) print, signed in pencil, was contested to £3,300.

But my favourite painting had to be Lot 4005, a wonderful signed oil painting by George Turner of Derby (1843-1910) entitled 'Harvesting in South Derbyshire'. It was dated 1886, offering us all a rare insight into the rural beauty of our county more than 130 years ago. It sold for £3,000 and deservedly so.

Ceramics also do well at auction, a fact demonstrated by Lot 1137, a large Meissen pagoda figural group featuring a Chinese man sitting holding a stick with a dragon on top, a colourful parrot resting on his knee, a standing figure and blue crossed swords. The hammer fell at £3,200.

But all auctions have a hidden star – that unexpected item that soars to success from nowhere and this time it was lot 4474.

One of our cataloguers, Karen Van Hoey Smith, found a folder of sketches in a bulk lot of £5 house clearance stock – and knew it was special. The sketches were created by an unknown artist during the Second World War Blitz in South East London – and provided a real-life account of the bombings as they happened.

The sketch book was titled ‘Flying bombs & incendiaries, Beckenham, Penge, Croydon etc’ and included pencil and ink studies of bomb shelters and people within them and destruction caused by the bombs. Most were annotated with comments on the scene or damage including deaths, names and locations.

Such was their historical importance we isolated the drawings as a separate lot and placed them in the militaria section of our Fine Art Auction.

It was speculative so we put a humble estimate of £20-£40 on the artwork as it had been part of a quantity collection. However, much to our delight, the sketches sold for £2,900. When the price reached £600, two bidders remained in the race to own the sketches, one from Holland and one from the UK. The British buyer finally secured the lot - a wonderful piece of wartime history.

The success of this item, lost and forgotten amid a box of general ephemera from a house clearance, demonstrates how important it is to gain a professional valuation.

Whatever it is, big or small, if you have an inkling it just might be worth something, or are simply fascinated by it, do bring it to show us. Whether it turns out to be valuable or not, we really don’t mind. We’d love to see it.

Free valuations are available at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-noon.

Specialist jewellery, silver and watches valuers are available on Tuesday and Fridays, 9.30am-4.30pm. Plus, on Wednesday, July 17, you can preview our July Antiques and Collectors, Coins and Militaria auctions ahead of the sales which get under way on Thursday July 18.

Entries invited

We are now inviting entries for our October Fine Arts, Jewellery, Watches & Silver auctions. To arrange a free valuation, please email Adrian Rathbone - [email protected] - or call 01283 733988.

If a jewellery or watch requires valuation please email Helen Smith: [email protected]