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Rochdale Observer - - THE LAUGHING BADGER -

UCTIONEERING is Tim Won­na­cott’s first love. He con­ducted his de­but stand­ing on an up­turned bucket in a farm­yard. It was a skill he learned from his fa­ther, Ma­jor Ray­mond Won­na­cott, an auc­tion­eer in South West Eng­land.

Now the ir­re­place­able star of Bar­gain Hunt, the hit BBC TV af­ter­noon show – it will never be the same with­out him – is do­ing what all col­lec­tors must un­der­take some time or an­other: he’s thin­ning down and clear­ing out some of the things he’s pre­pared to live with­out.

After fronting the show for 13 years, some of the per­sonal dis­cov­er­ies the for­mer Sotheby’s grandee made at an­tiques fairs around the coun­try he vis­ited while record­ing the 1,300 episodes, will be hit­ting the auc­tion block.

In­stead of stand­ing on the ros­trum, though, Tim will be sit­ting in the au­di­ence. The sale will be con­ducted by Sworders Fine Art in Stansted Mount­fitchet, Es­sex, on De­cem­ber 4-5. The first 250 lots are ex­pected to raise around £100,000. More will fol­low in Sworders sales next year.

“Col­lect­ing is an in­fec­tious drug, one that stays with you all your life,” Tim says. “The thrill of find­ing an item priced at £50 that you knew could sell for £500 was fan­tas­tic”.

View­ers might even re­mem­ber some of the no­table lots. Dur­ing film­ing Tim would fre­quently share his per­sonal pur­chases, his ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing the dis­cov­ery in­fec­tious.

He loves the buzz of the pur­suit, wan­der­ing for miles and miles around large an­tique fairs such as Ne­wark and Ard­ingly. On one of his film­ing ex­pe­di­tions he wore a pe­dome­ter, record­ing a to­tal dis­tance trav­elled of 7 miles.

A ca­reer de­voted to re­search­ing an­tiques – he once spent days pour­ing through the ar­chives at Lan­caster fur­ni­ture mak­ers Gil­lows, match­ing in­voices to a col­lec­tion of pieces in a Sotheby’s house sale at Thoresby Hall in Not­ting­hamshire – he has nat­u­rally been spoilt for buy­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and has amassed a fas­ci­nat­ing per­sonal col­lec­tion.

The sale is to make space and en­able a house move, but se­lect­ing what to part with has not been easy.

“Firstly it has been re­ally dif­fi­cult de­cid­ing what to sell and what to keep”, Tim adds. “Space, of course, is a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion and ob­jects with keen fam­ily or per­sonal and emo­tive con­nec­tions are all in the po­ten­tial keep cat­e­gory. But, even then, the choices are far from easy.

“Se­condly, like one’s chil­dren, one should never show favouritism, even for ob­jects. But some pieces which Sworders will of­fer are so idio­syn­cratic, that say­ing good­bye is par­tic­u­larly painful.

“Auc­tions are marvel­lous things be­cause you learn the true value of your items. It will be a thrill to see how it goes.”

Sworders chair­man, Guy School­ing said: “The firm is hon­oured to have been nom­i­nated (by Tim) for the task.”

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