21st May 2012
A good hard stare is an essential part of the armoury of every auctioneer.
Whilst the odd moment of levity can brighten an auction room it is important that a certain decorum generally prevails in order that the concentration of both the auctioneer and his audience is retained whilst lots are being sold. This is a very serious affair with large amounts of money involved and a stare from the auctioneer is the most effective way to quell any undue noise or disruption. Ask any parent.
We do not ban mobile phones from our room as the amusement or disapproval created by the hapless recipient of an unexpected call is usually enough to prevent a repeat offence. The auctioneer's raised eyebrow will suffice to reinforce this message. Many of our clients choose to switch their phones to 'vibrate', or so we assume from their twitching pockets.
On occasion, though, the penetrating stare does need to be deployed should a whispered conversation reach too high a pitch, however amusing the topic. In the corner of my ear at our Great Britain auction in April, whilst they awaited their next lot, I overheard two dealers discussing which was the 'gayest' Olympic sport (their words not ours). Having considered men's volleyball they were just concluding that fencing held that honour when I had to 'shut it down' with a particularly hard glare.
The true Master of the Stare at Grosvenor, though, has to be Charles Napper who spends most days fixedly examining items and collections with a forensic gaze that must owe something to his early days in scientific research. Charles has to cope with not only the minutiae of Line Engraved plate flaws and numbers but also the peculiarities of complex Machin issues. Should sometimes a far-away look cross his face, perhaps on hearing the unexpected rustling of a cagoule, this will be only because he is resting his eyes briefly whilst recalling a gruelling yomp through a cloud of midges, triumphing over another Highland 'Munro". This will be a short interlude only, however, before he returns to the next sample under the lens.
Having recently recovered from the successes of the Colin Bowen and Kurt Feyrer collections, which required much careful sorting and categorisation, Charles will soon be working on the exceptional and extensive collection of Machins formed by the noted expert John Sussex, which we are proud to announce will be offered for sale in Spring 2013.
We trust that Charles's eyes hold out.