Festive fever is gripping Derbyshire and I’m proud to play my part, writes Charles Hanson. The yuletide jumper is dazzling friends and family, the decorations are up and I’m still reliving the excitement of switching on the Christmas lights in Swadlincote and Etwall. What an honour that was.
I like to think I light up lives, just a little, and I have an invitation for you all this week. It’s customary at this time of year to feast on nostalgia and you have the opportunity to do just that. Step back in time to meet the ghosts of Christmas past at our Staffordshire country house auction venue Bishton Hall.
The Georgian mansion, which dates back to circa 1750, is awash with period atmosphere and is a wonderful place to quench your thirst for history while admiring treasures from centuries ago. I bought it to put antiques back into a treasured period interior, and that’s what my team have endeavoured to do this week.
Right now, the fire is aglow in the reception hall in preparation for our December 12-13 Christmas Fine Art and Library Auction. Preview events are under way and you can visit Bishton tomorrow (Dec 10), 10am-7pm, and Wednesday, (Dec 11) 10am-4pm. Plus, of course, you’re welcome to join us on the auction days from 9am. The sales get under way in the Red Dining Room at 10.30am daily.
So, what is there to see? Well, our Fine Art and Library Auctions bring together the very best items sourced over recent weeks and include everything from works of art, furniture and silver to glass, ceramics, wine, textiles and clocks.
For example, we’re selling a wonderful silver-plated letter rack, found by chance in a charity shop in Cardiff, blackened over the course of time but now polished to perfection.
It’s the work of renowned designer Dr Christopher Dresser for Hukin & Heath of Birmingham and dates back to 1881. Popular with collectors, Dresser objects can sell for thousands of pounds.
Dresser was way ahead of his time when it came to design and the object looks strikingly modern despite that fact that it was created more than a century ago. It goes to auction with an estimate of £800-£1,200 and we very much hope it does well as all funds raised will go to Cancer Research UK.
You can also admire highly sought-after prints signed by renowned British artist Laurence Stephen Lowry. He became a household name thanks to his distinctive ‘matchstick men’ figures and unmistakable canvases that capture working class life in the north.
His original oil paintings sell for millions of pounds and now even his limited-edition signed prints can fetch impressive sums. The Holy Grail of Lowry prints is ‘Going to the Match’, with one example selling for £22,000 in 2015. Plus, many of his other prints make between £1,000-£5,000 at auction.
Consequently, Hansons’ fine art expert Adrian Rathbone was thrilled to uncover three signed Lowry prints at a free valuation event. They include The Beach 1947, estimate £2,000-£3,000; Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, estimate £1,500-£2,500, and The Contraption, estimate £1,500-£2,000. All are due to be sold on December 12.
Lowry prints are one of the big auction success stories of recent years. Prices are rising and holding up well. Such is the demand for them, we have keen buyers on our books willing to pay above market price.
Lowry, who lived from 1887-1976, captured many scenes in Pendlebury, Lancashire, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years, and also Salford and its surrounding areas.
He became famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England in the mid-20th century. He developed a distinctive style and is best known for his urban landscapes peopled with human figures. He painted mysterious unpopulated landscapes, brooding portraits and the unpublished ‘marionette’ works, which were only found after his death.
Another item you will be able to admire is a cigar dropped by Sir Winston Churchill at the Coliseum Theatre in London when he was British Prime Minister in 1953. It was picked up by usherette Violet King and treasured throughout her life. It’s being sold with a letter from Downing Street giving Violet permission to tell her friends about it.
We’re inviting entries now for our Spring Fine Art & Library Auction. Pop down to Hansons Auction Centre, Heage Lane, Etwall, for free valuations on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, or Saturdays, 9am-noon. We also offer free valuations every Thursday, 10am-4pm, at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, ST17 0XN.