March 8, 2013

Hammer Time

As you might have guessed by now, I am a fan of auctions. I’ve been attending them for years, and regardless of whether I buy something or not, there’s always something to be learned.

For new collectors, auctions are great. You can pick up the piece, look underneath it, heft it in your hands, check for damages, and thoroughly examine the piece before you bid on it. Most of the better auction houses have catalogues which you can either purchase or download from their website and they give you some information about what’s going under the hammer.

One of our local auction houses has an auction about every six to eight weeks, and it’s a lot of fun to attend.  I usually attend one of the previews, so I can check things out before the actual auction. I generally have the catalogue in hand, so I can mark off the  lots that interest me. It’s also a good social time, as you frequently see the same people time after time.

After talking about intaglios and reliefs in my last post, I was delighted to see several lots of mounted collections of these pieces. Most of them came from one collector, and they were originally collected during a Grand Tour of Europe. Some of them are marked 1821.These collections are estimated at between $200 and $600.

There is a literal ton of Wedgwood in this auction, probably several hundred pieces. Some of it is very high quality, and rare. Others are your bog-standard blue and white pieces.

I was also rather taken with a set of mother-of-pearl fruit knives and forks, English-made with marks. The marks indicate that they were made in Sheffield, England in 1946; the head and the HA are the maker’s marks. I just got an amazing app for my phone which shows all of the English silver marks. It’s so handy!

For a while, I’ve been on a search for a Governor Winthrop desk, and one got away from me at the last auction. This one’s a little more expensive, but it’s in great condition.

There’s also a smaller desk, made of bird’s eye maple, so if I don’t get one, I might bid on the other.This one needs a bit of work, but I am pretty good friends with a furniture maker, so maybe he’d help me clean it up.

I spotted a lot of 12 pots de crème in my Royal Copenhagen pattern, so they’re worth bidding on.

The auction will take place over three days this weekend. More details, and the catalogue here.


  1. I have never been to an auction. They look like amazing opportunities. I do find them a little intimidating though. There is an auction house in my town and I may have to give it a try.

  2. Hi Meg, I'm an auction addict!! I love them. Those intaglios look fantastic; the price point looks very reasonable, too. (Intaglios are going very high here in California) I wish I were in Baltimore this week-end. Have fun.

  3. Have you tried craigslist for the secretary? There are usually a few listed daily (at least here in DC) and I'm sure the one you're after is in the bunch! I've been tempted by a few but I really don't have room in my place. Happy weekend!

  4. I along with Mary an an auction addict. Get the intaglios ,if you can, those are a great price. Love everything I see here.

  5. Exciting auction pieces. Good luck on your bidding. The Gov. Winthrop desk is really handsome and the pots de creme are a must to add to your collection.

  6. Oh I would LOVE to check out that auction!


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