Sunday, 19 January 2014

I love auctions!

 I have so many pieces of Torquay pottery now, I have had to clear the books from a little shelf in the back hall and put some of my collection up there.

Like Fleamarkets and Car Boot Sales, you just never know what is going to turn up at an auction.  We go regularly, quite often just to have a rummage around - those boxes under the tables might just hold a gem, and although Torquay pottery is all I really collect these days, I still sometimes look longingly at old china.  We had an extra reason to attend this auction, as some of our Junk Room clearout was lotted up and fortunately fetched the sort of prices we were hoping for. 

If you have never been to an auction, there are different types.  Some are more up-market Antiques and Fine Art auctions, some specialist auctions of Militaria, Sporting ephemera, Toys/Dolls/Textiles, Silver and Jewellery, but the ones we mostly go to are house clearance.  Sometimes you get dealers buying in one auction and putting the piece (it used to regularly be furniture, back in the day) in another auction in the hope of a quick profit.  Mind you with Buyers Premiums and Sellers Premiums at between 15% and 20% depending on which auction house you are at, then these days you have to have a good piece to make it worth your while. 

You can view the day before or on the morning.  The day before is generally better as you aren't pushed for time and can be more thorough.  Viewing on the morning necessitates getting up earlier and being there from lot one onwards unless you decide to leave a bid and not stay.  Be thorough, it is surprising how easy it is to miss that chip or crack or dent in china, or woodworm or missing bit of beading or hard-to-match handle on furniture.  Or even not notice something which is held up in the room, and you think, I might have bought that if I had a chance to check it over properly.  On the day, it helps to get there early and put your newspaper or jacket or bidding card on a - comfy - chair (there are always a goodly number for sale) as it is the pits standing around for hours.  Yesterday, I stood the first hour and bagged an empty chair for the second.  It helps to be where you can catch the auctioneer's eye when you are bidding, rather than being stuck behind a pile of furniture in a corner!

As it happened, we viewed on Friday, and went back yesterday morning once the sale had started.  My husband got two pieces he was interested in (3 others went too high).  I had spotted (and drooled over) two trays of assorted bits of china, both with very early and unusual pieces of Torquay pottery on.  I felt I could offset the cost of purchase with selling on the remainder of china on the tray.  One tray, with an Aller Vale vase dating from about 1895, cost me £20.  The other tray - assorted china cats and dogs and a beautiful early wall plate - cost me £25.  However, a Sylvac rough Lassie collie and a little Beswick Dachshund from the tray are both worth £20 to £25 each, so they will pay for my Torquay bits when I've sold them on at car boot sale.  I also purloined a big heavy Dancing Girls Welsh lustre dresser jug to hang from the beams.  At one time these went for about £50 a piece!  Now they are as desirable to buy as week-old newspapers and I saw a trayful (more than a dozen assorted sizes) go for £12 recently.

Anyway, what did I buy?  Well, here's the footed vase, Aller Vale, pattern 113, B1 (this latter mark is for the scrolling design).

I can't trace it on line or in either of my paltry two books on Torquay pottery, but there were hundreds of different shapes and designs.  I may write to the Society, and see if they can tell me more about it.  I will enjoy it for the moment, but may sell it at some point in the future.

This wall plate, however, is staying forever.  Under the honey glaze is a lovely random unbalanced Scandy pattern, with the bit at the bottom done with a delightfully wobbly hand, and the spots around the outside hurriedly done.  Love it!  It is pierced on the back rim for hanging on a wall but I shall display it like this.  The motto says:

The queen she went to Tilbury,
What more could we desire, Oh:
For her dear sake, Sir Francis Drake
Did set them all on fire, Oh -

I think it's a similar age to the little footed vase and they have the feel of family pieces, cherished and handed down until their latest owner died and the house was cleared.  So possibly they belonged to a Devon family who had moved here for work a hundred or more years ago.

Anyway, we're off to the Car Boot Sale any minute, but I shall pop back later and add a photo and a recipe of the Orange, Cranberry and Fruit Plait loaf I made yesterday, which is scrummy!


  1. Lucky you, it must be fascinating wandering around looking at stuff, and actually knowing something about it as well ;) X

  2. I just love that plate.
    I must confess that I have never been to an auction although we have Tennants Auction House here in Leyburn. We also go to the view ing day of their Catalogue Sale, just for a look round and a delicious lunch in their cafe.

  3. Our local auction that I mentioned on my blog yesterday has no where to sit and hardly any room to look at things which is rather off putting, when we see the nice big auction rooms on Bargain Hunt with rows of chairs we feel envious!

  4. We've not bought at the auction for a while .. we found prices were too high to make anything on .. and the hours it takes .. usually standing ... boy the cold gets into your joints .. the hours are work hours .. and money could be earned doing something else.
    You did well with your buys .. I must say I know very little about pottery/ceramics.
    Each to their own eh!

  5. Vicky - when we are having a clear out and sending to auction, you can guarantee prices are on the ground! If there is anything we want to buy, so does everyone else. Having said that, we HAVE had some real bargains over the years. I have little pockets of knowledge (some deeper than others) about china. Furniture we know more about, especially Windsor chairs as my husband collects them. Other subjects we are learning on a need-to-know basis. Our entire house (and it's big) has been furnished entirely from auction, and we generally try and trade up more basic pieces for better ones when we can afford it.

    SSS - there's more standing room than sitting at both the auctions in this area. It makes me laugh when they show some Bargain Hunt auctions empty - reckon they have set it up on a non-auction day and just dragged people in off the street as stooges.

    Pat - it really speaks to me, such character in it. I love old things - with a history. Interesting to read of your auction viewing (and great presence of mind NOT to ever go and bid). Must be a posh one if they have a cafe, as the food on offer round here are sausage rolls, chocolate bars, Welsh Cakes and tea and coffee.

    thelma - as I was saying to Vicky, the knowledge is limited in certain areas, but it is ever a learning process. We know nothing about anything Oriental, for instance . . .

  6. I love the plate BB, although both pieces have so much character.
    Good luck with selling on the Sylvac and Beswick dogs. You should do well with them.x

  7. Thanks DW. They will have to wait a while as we're "off" for the winter months now.

  8. I have never been to an auction but would love to go. Hubby and I will go sometime when we have some time off work this year, as I've been saying I want to go for years!
    Thanks for the information, this is very helpful.