Posted on: 17 January 2023
Banishing the Winter Blues: January 2023
After a roaring start to their first auction of the year, the team are looking forward to a busy 2023.
Many of the top results of the day came from the furniture section, which included a fine Jacobean chest of drawers and a two section chest of the same period, which made £2200 and £1500. “Furniture of the Jacobean period isn’t always the most popular, but the chests in this month’s auction really stood out,” says auctioneer Ian Woodward. “The chest of drawers are notable in particular, due to the large size and three drawer interior. Both had few alterations, they looked smart with fine quality carving, and ultimately are very practical.”
Further lots of note include a 19th century tester bed which fetched £1900, a pair of Howard type armchairs which took £1000, and a Victorian satin birch armchair which made £2700. Reflecting on the successes of the day, Ian said “The furniture market seems to be on a steady upward trajectory. The post-pandemic market has had peaks and troughs, but we are still seeing record breaking results for rare and the exceptional items – things of unusual size, shape or composition, which are well constructed and in great condition. Good quality always prevails, even in uncertain times!”
Another strong performer in the sale was 20th century art, with an early work by iconic Welsh artist Sir Kyffin Williams OBE RA (1918-2006) Leading the way. “Pen Y Gae” is a dramatic early work depicting a brooding mountain view from the artist’s house” explains picture valuer Simon Grover. “The work formed part of Kyffin Williams’s legendary debut show at the Colnaghi gallery in 1949, where it was acquired by the prolific collector L.G. Duke. It was a wonderful surprise to remove the picture from the frame and find notes in Leonard Duke’s own handwriting on the mount. Given its provenance, it was not a surprise when the work made £1400 in the sale.”
Another 20th century art success came with a signed print by the perennially popular L.S. Lowry, titled His Family. “The work was apparently inspired by a well dressed family Lowry spotted at a bus stop one day” says Simon. “He appears to have been struck by the fact that, although clearly ‘a family’, each of the figures occupies their own space, showing no interest in the other members. Lowry himself appears at the far right of the picture, surreptitiously observing the family over his shoulder. This is also an unusual Lowry, in that the figures are standing against a plain ground rather than his trademark Manchester buildings”. The print raced away on sale day to make its top estimate of £1600 .
Results from the vintage toys section may have you digging around your old toy chest, after a boxed Lego 7730 Electric Goods Trainset made £280 + Buyer’s Premium. “The vintage toy market is driven by nostalgia and rarity,” says specialist Charlie Whittingham. “The interest in vintage LEGO sets has been growing since the 1980’s, as brick-obsessed kids are maturing into sentimental collectors. As a result, the LEGO market is going from strength to strength – recent studies suggest that the average price of an unopened standard LEGO set on the secondary market can grow by as much as 11% annually. Some research suggests that many LEGO sets are providing a higher return on investment then more traditional collectables such as fine art, antiques, and even gold!”
As with any investment, it is important to do your research first and bear in mind value can vary greatly, with a negative return on investment quite possible if you buy the wrong set at the wrong price. “The most valuable sets are those relating to movies – especially Star Wars,” says Charlie. “Sets of famous or notable buildings can also perform well, such as 1980’s medieval castle models in yellow boxes, can sell particularly well, as can very early 1950’s garages and filling stations. Rarity is also a factor – larger and more specialist LEGO sets are produced in limited numbers, and after these sets are retired, the number available on the secondary market is fairly small, driving up their value. And as always, condition is everything; it is important that sets have all their bricks, original instructions and boxes, ideally with the brick bags unopened.”
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