There were strong prices across the board at Woolley & Wallis’s 2-day Asian sale in Salisbury. Bidding was not just confined to the crowded room: there were 14 telephone lines active plus the Internet and, of course, there were a large number of Chinese buyers in the room. Woolley & Wallis have well succeeded in bringing in the Chinese buyers, many of whom are regular attenders and they significantly outnumber any local buyers.
A section of the telephone bank at Woolley & Wallis Photo Paul Harris
There was an almost festive atmosphere as foreign buyers munched their way through exotic foods in between furiously bidding. The Chinese bidders, many of whom were friends, relentlessly bid against each other. Most of the time the competition was good natured although just occasionally there were some trenchant observations to each other in Mandarin!
It had been expected that the laurels for the sale would go to an early 19th century jade seal with connection to Empress Xiaoyiren. It did not sell in the room (estimated £200,000-300,000) but was sold immediately after the sale (‘a direct after sale’) at a price of £150,000 plus 22% premium. Woolley & Wallis said they were well pleased with the result.
Top sellers in the sale at £378,200
The top sellers in the sale were a pair of tiny Yongzheng (mark and of the period) doucai lingzhi wine cups which well exceeded their estimate to sell for £378,200 (premium inclusive).
The best prices in the sale were during day 1 when the most expensive lots were exposed for sale, although there were strong prices throughout day 2 – and some surprises. A framed and glazed Tibetan thangka, estimated at £500-1,000, sold for a rather better £31,720.
The surprise Tibetan thangka: £31,720
There were a large number of snuff bottles for sale on day 2 at the beginning of the sale (most from the collection of the late Mr John Ault). The prices achieved bore no relation to the estimates. They sold, sometimes, for ten or, even, twenty times the estimates. They seemed to set the mood for the day and prices remained strong with relatively few passes.
Woolley & Wallis’s Chinese expert Freya Yuan shows off one of the pair of doucai cups
The Chinese buyers appeared well pleased with their purchases. For them, it was just another day: the next day they would be off to Duke’s of Dorchester for their Asian sale!
Woolley & Wallis later announced that the two day sale totalled just over £3m. The sale of the Helen Espir Collection of European Decorated Oriental Ceramics (140 lots) took £90,000.