30th April 2012
What Makes Britain So Great?
The Grosvenor rostrum is cooling off now after taking another good hammering last week.
Our 'Great Britain' auctions were exceptionally well received with an unprecedented number of bid forms arriving pre-sale and an excellent attendance over the two days. 'Roz', as we like to call our rostrum, can rest now until the middle of June when we will be mounting her for the last time before the Summer.
Auctioneering is a challenging profession but the view from behind the gavel is worth all the hardwork and training. Is the bidder that holds his paddle number at full stretch above his head as keen as he appears, or is he merely trying to intimidate his opposition ? Was that sudden jerk of the head from the quiet man at the back of the room a new bid, or had he just woken up ?
The auction traditions to which we cleave were established long ago in London and have been fine-tuned over many generations. The development of this system of selling which combines fair, open competition with the fear of imminent loss is of unequalled effectiveness in maximising returns for a vendor. It is part of what makes Britain 'great'.
Bearing in mind the pace of change in other aspects of the auction world it is good to have such a strong sense of tradition to follow. This week those of us who were previously associated with the Phillips Stamp Department were disappointed but not surprised to see that the old building at the top of Bond Street is being levelled to make room for a new Bonhams headquarters. Harmers, which previously held its sales just around the corner from there was towed out to sea and sunk by gunfire several years ago. Or so I heard.
Only Sothebys is left now in the Bond Street area from which occasionally, after the dust has been blown off the mailing list, another fat stamp auction catalogue might emerge, often from a 'titled' collector. Prominent collectors wishing to pursue this option would be well advised to get their cheque off to Conservative Central Office without delay. Or so they say.
The catalogue for our British Empire & Foreign Countries auction, to be held here on the Strand over three sessions on June 12th and 13th, is now with our printers and will be despatched in just under a couple of weeks. Its contents covers almost the whole World, although collectors of Great Britain will have to wait until November 1st before they will next be able to come to our saleroom to hold up their paddles.
In the meantime we wish them a great summer and look forward to welcoming them back, hoping that it will be less blustery and rainy in November than it was last week.
Or is that too optimistic ?