Under the hammer


Derek Jones

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Going to an auction is a bit like a day at the races. It doesn"t mater how well you"ve studied the form anything can happen on the day. To quote an old colleague, trading through an auction house is a "numbers game". If you"re selling you want it as busy as hell. If you"re buying, you want it like a graveyard. There are bargains to be had and if you’re not doing it for profit then you can easily outbid the dealers. In fact, if you"re looking for a fixer-upper the floor is pretty much yours and you can grab a bargain. The last thing a dealer wants to do is pay a restorer to fix up his "barn find".


I did precisely that yesterday and came away with a very nice rosewood chiffonier. It doesn"t need a lot of attention. There"s a wonky foot, a loose knob and some silk to replace but that"s about it. When it"s looking pretty it can go back under the hammer and out into the world again.


There were a couple of lots that caught my eye. This roll-top desk had a lot of potential, but was probably too big a project for my "shop right now.


And this very nice Victorian what-not. Intact it would have been a single tower of shelves and quite desirable. Unfortunately, it had been cut down to make a couple of tables. There wasn"t a single bid so it remained unsold. If you can make small dowels and find your way around a tin of paste wax then this is the sort of project you can expect to find. I"d already hit my limit of one piece by then.

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