There are experts and there are experts . . . Many of the so-called experts, when it comes to the crunch, have just about the same chance of spotting a winner as the rest of us! This was vividly highlighted ten days ago at a sale at a small provincial saleroom in Wales. A 19cm. celadon vase was entered into the regular fortnightly sale at the rooms of Peter Francis of Carmarthen. It was modestly estimated at £150-250, having been rejected by ‘Chinese experts’ appointed by executors of a London estate. And so, the vase was packed off unceremoniously to the remote Welsh saleroom where it produced a house record of £114,500 hammer (buyer’s premium to be added). When it was exposed for sale there was a protracted 15 minute bidding session between a Chinese dealer in the room and an online bidder in China (PRC mainland). The vase (pictured above) is, in fact, now reckoned to be an original prized Yongzheng era (1722-35) vase. Said auctioneer Nigel Hodson, “I started the bidding at £500 and the internet just melted. We knew something was happening . . .”. Apparently, the rejected items from London have produced a total of around £500,000 for the Francis rooms, with more to come tomorrow, November 18th. Maybe worth a look . . . .
For the Asian art buyer next month promises to be a taxing, wallet emptying experience . . . It is the busiest month ever for Asian art auctions. Starting November 3 with London’s Chiswick Auctions, the next 28 days of the month of November will see no fewer than 20 major auctions of Asian art.
The sales range in size from Sotheby’s November 11 sale of Classical Chinese Furniture from a European Private Collection with just 28 lots of fine-looking huanghuali furniture, to Woolley & Wallis’s usual two day extravaganza on November 17 and 18. They range in location from Bonhams Edinburgh rooms to Dukes in Dorchester and Peter Francis in Carmarthen.
The plethora of sales raises problems of logistics for the avid follower of Chinese auction offerings. Even if you only peruse catalogues on line, you have to set aside at least a couple of days. As for attending all the sales, that is a practical impossibility given the distances involved and the fact that many sales compete with each other on the same day!
Things calm down, thankfully, at the end of the month, although you may care to take in, if you have the energy and the bank balance left, the Lyon & Turnbull auction at Crosshall Manor, St Neots, Cambridgeshire. L&T are again abandoning their elegant Edinburgh saleroom for a small barn in order to be within relatively easy reach of the London market and Heathrow airport.
The auction mania is effectively driven by other surrounding events. The prestigious Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair has a strong Chinese and Asian showing this year and starts with its private view on November 2. Asian Art in London starts on November 5 and runs on until the 14th. Both events bring thousands of Asian buyers to London.
Lyon & Turnbull . . . at Crosshall Manor again Photo Paul Harris
Listings for all the auctions can be found on our Auctions Nationwide page which is accessible from the slider bar on the Home Page of chineseart.co.uk