20th August 2012
Month of the False Assumption
If you are driving through France in August (and it is by no means recommended) try, if it is at all possible, not to break down on the 15th of the month for this is the jour férié of Assomption, a bank holiday in celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.
Among the few working on this day will be the occasional garagiste, but he will not be happy about it. Certainly you should not expect him to rush to fix your car, rather prepare to be entertained by his wide range of shrugs and inventive use of the untranslatable "bof!".
It would be surprising to see a religious festival, especially one without Biblical foundation, still so well observed in a secular country were it not for the very good sense shown by Mary in timing her assumption for the middle of August, thus providing a welcome addition to the French workers' holiday entitlement at the most popular time of year. In France much of the country barely functions during this month anyway and it would make little difference if the whole of August were declared the Mois de l'Assomption, an official month of holiday for the French people to enjoy the heavenly glory of their mountains and beaches.
It would, however, be a very false assumption that there is similarly little occurring in the London auction houses at this time for, in spite of the Olympics which this year have drawn us repeatedly to our television sets, August remains a key month in the preparation of autumn sales.
Our two early October auctions, which contain over 3,000 lots, have been completed, edited and laid out for printing whilst the work of lotting and valuation has begun or continued on several important collections that will be offered in our auctions at the beginning of December. These include the Barry Smith Prestige Booklets, James Robertson Falkland Islands and Roy Allen Antarctica, further information on all of which will be published in the next few weeks.
It would also be wrong to assume that our colleague Andrew Williams, recently returned from paternity leave, is anything other than raring to go for the new season. We are enjoying watching him enthusiastically embrace the additional pressure and responsibility of a second young child and it is absolutely untrue that he is only sustained by matchsticks, deep breathing and exotic teas (not for him the slumgullion brews consumed by Chris Lawrence and others in the office).
“There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad humanity must assume the aspect of Hell” – Edgar Allan Poe.