THE NEW WAVE
From the thrill of sale day to the satisfaction of uncovering a forgo en treasure, Ellie Tennant meets three trailblazing auctioneers under 30 who are already making names for themselves
Meet three young auctioneers under 30, brimming with passion and potential
To be a successful auctioneer, you need a wide variety of skills. As well as being con !dent and quick-wi"ed when in charge of a busy salesroom, and able to maintain an air of positivity and occasion whether you’re selling an item worth £100 or £10,000, there are also psychological and social care aspects to the job. O$en, auctioneers are let into people’s homes at di %cult times, so you have to be able to tread carefully and be sensitive, as well as thorough. The young auctioneers pro! led here have all honed these skills and demonstrated great natural & air for this diverse and challenging job at an impressively young age. With the drive to keep the salesrooms buzzing, these auctioneers are inspirational examples in the trade. Joseph Trinder, of Dawson’s, fell in love with auction house life at just 14 and became the president of NAVA Propertymark (National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers) two years ago, aged just 23. Chloe Wood, of Mallams, has been carving a name for herself in the industry since her late teens, too, while Edward Watson, of J Stuart Watson, is working hard to ensure his family business thrives for years to come. Having grown up with the internet, they aren’t phased by the digital realm. Gesturing to the camera and ensuring that online bidders feel every bit a part of the experience as the bidders who are present is an important skill and one that comes naturally to these tech-savvy youngsters who have never known any di #erent.
Edward Watson, !", Kent
My parents run an auction house and my father has been an auctioneer all of his life, so I spent my childhood in and around the salesroom. I’ve been working full time with my dad for !ve years – he brings the knowledge and I bring the energy!
‘Auction day is very exciting. We have a sale once a fortnight and handle between 1,600-2,000 lots each sale – everything from ceramics and jewellery to furniture and art. It a"racts an extremely diverse crowd. The study of the people is almost as interesting as the stu # itself.
‘A lot of my time is spent out and about on the road, visiting people who are looking to sell things or dealing with probate situations. It’s hard work. There’s many a long day and it’s very physical – a lot of heavy li $ing and shi $ing around.
Sometimes you drive a long way to value the family silver and you’re imagining thousands of pounds worth of salvers and teapots – and when you arrive, it’s a few spoons and a silverplated tea set. Regardless of the intrinsic value, these things have sentimental value for people. You have to remain honest and polite.
‘ We did a local house clearance recently and there was a wardrobe in a shed, with no panels in the doors. It was very beaten up and looked like a chicken run. As we moved it away from the wall, we saw it was labelled on the back: ‘ E.W. Godwin’ – a famous Arts and Cra s furniture maker. It went on to make £3,000 at auction!
‘Sometimes people are surprised when you knock on the door and you’re a younger person but, as long as you can demonstrate your knowledge, it’s never a problem. Furniture is my specialist area – older oak in particular. I like 20th- century pieces, particularly by Danish and English designers. I bought a rosewood sideboard by Gordon Russell that I love.
‘Our family business doesn’t have online bids yet, but I work freelance for the-saleroom.com and the new generation of auctions is mainly online, particularly for specialist sales. You only have a handful of bidders in the room and the rest are online. Younger dealers seem to prefer to buy online because they can buy from a wider range of auction houses. Over the next few years, we’re hoping to move J Stuart Watson Auctioneers into online sales, too, and I think my age will be an advantage for that because some older auctioneers struggle to understand how it could help their business.’
‘Over the next few years, we’re hoping to move into online sales and I think my age is an advantage.’
Edward Watson is an Auctioneer and Saleroom Manager at J Stuart Watson Auctioneers & Valuers. 01622 692515; jstuartwatson.com