30 SEM­I­NAL SALES

In cel­e­bra­tion of H& A’s 300th is­sue, CARO­LINE WHEATER se­lects the stel­lar lots that have bro­ken records and set auc­tion trends since the mag­a­zine launched in 1993

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - WELCOME -

Wal­lis Simp­son’s prized 1940s "amingo brooch sold for £1,721,250 at Sotheby’s in 2010

Since its launch 24 years ago, H&A has cov­ered the auc­tion world ev­ery month in one way or an­other, and has re­ported on count­less won­der­ful tales of his­tory and ori­gin. The market is as thriv­ing and as ex­cit­ing as ever, with live sales pro­vid­ing an un­beat­able sense of theatre for buy­ers, and more peo­ple than ever able to ac­cess them on­line. But as fash­ions have changed, so auc­tions have evolved and the things we’re now seek­ing are di er­ent.

‘Back in 1993, the market was very tra­di­tional,’ re­calls Har­vey Cam­mell, deputy chair­man of Bon­hams UK. ‘ The English coun­try house look was very strong, and Old Master paint­ings, 19th- cen­tury prints and fine an­tique fur­ni­ture were all pop­u­lar. While we still have all these won­der­ful spe­cial­ist de­part­ments at Bon­hams, buy­ers have be­come more se­lec­tive, hunt­ing for pieces with prove­nance and rar­ity. The trend for min­i­mal­ism has also had an im­pact, but house con­tents sales, such as Glyn Cy­warch [see the fea­ture in H&A’s Oc­to­ber is­sue] and Trelis­sick, have bucked the trend and still do very well. Buy­ers like the sto­ries of the re­spec­tive fam­i­lies, the cen­turies of his­tory as­so­ci­ated with the col­lec­tions.’

Buy­ers love celebrity, too. ‘ There’s a magic about a fa­mous ac­tor or singer’s col­lec­tion com­ing up for sale; it’s al­most as though you can touch the per­son through their things,’ says Christie’s cre­ative con­sul­tant, Mered­ith Ether­ing­ton- Smith, who was in­volved in cat­a­logu­ing sales from the es­tates of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, El­iz­a­beth Taylor and Au­drey Hep­burn. Auc­tions are about things, but they’re also about us and our his­tory, which is why we keep com­ing back for more.

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