Sunday, 29 July 2007

Final bids

On Thursday last, Concord,NH auctioneer, Richard Withington conducted his 2,458 and final auction. With only a few weeks to live, the 89 year old auctioned off the contents of his own home.

Sporting an eye patch and cane displaying the wit and good humour that have made him legendary in the antique world Withington sold 100 items.

Highest price was a rare wooden nightstand from his bedroom which made $32,000.

"I love these things, and I don't want to sell them," Withington said as he walked through his Hillsboro home this week. "But if I'm going to die in a few weeks, I won't miss them."

The self-made millionaire, who is renowned for his charity and his success, is suffering from brain cancer. Withington said doctors give him just weeks to live, although he claims they said the same thing in January - before he survived radiation treatment and 30 days in intensive care.

Withington's career began at age 12, when he started buying and selling antiques, helping an auctioneer for $2 a day He attributes his success to three things: "I'm honest, I never get mad and I know what the hell I'm doing."

In his prime, Withington could run an auction for 12 hours without a break.He has never stopped auctioneering.

On Thursday, he proved that even terminal illness couldn’t stop him from joking, reminiscing and exhorting buyers to bid higher. "As long as I can stand up, talk and have a mind, I'll keep doing it," he said.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Investment tip: buy straw.

Reports from agricultural auctions indicate that demand for straw is outstripping supply. With the likelihood of a poor harvest because of recent wet weather, the prices are likely to zoom.
You read it here first:-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

*Gut twisting engine auctioned at Bonhams.

Bonhams Angling Sale, last Saturday, July 21, at Henley-on-Thames contained a GUT TWISTING ENGINE. It was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and made over $5,000.

Sounds horrible, like something out of a torture chamber, but it was actually a silver plated brass tool used to turn horsehair into fishing line.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Dutch Museum auctions surplus art on EBay.

Part of the Dutch national art collection featuring some 1,000 paintings, statues, and other art objects has gone on sale through Internet auction site eBay.

The Institute Collection Netherlands (ICN) which manages part of the Netherland's national art treasures have listed the goods for auction.

Five museums are also taking part in the initiative which has sparked outrage among some of the artists whose work is up for sale.

Between now and October 1,000 works of art, at the rate of 50 a week, will by auctioned on eBay. Details on the works for sale can be found on the Dutch eBay site

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Green minister buys mayor’s car on EBay

From: The Irish Independent

ACTING Green leader Trevor Sargent has put the party's preaching into practice.

He took possession yesterday of his new ministerial eco-car - a Toyota Prius formerly used by former Galway Mayor Niall O Brolchain - at Government Buildings.

Mr Sargent secured the car in an eBay auction set up for charity and handed a cheque worth €7,000 to Cllr O Brolchain, which will go towards 15 Galway charities.

The amount represents the difference between the retail price of €30,000 and the €23,000 cost price at which the car was sold by a Galway garage.

The garage had originally leased the car for O Brolchain's year in office as Lord Mayor. Mr Sargent, who is Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, will use the car for official functions.

"I am glad that the sale of this car is minimising the impact of CO2 emissions on the environment," he said.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

*FAME ACADEMY mansion goes for a £32m song.

London’s second biggest house sold this week for a whopping £32,000,000.

The mansion, once the venue for the BBC1 talent show – The Fame Academy, has 25 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.

The Grade 11 listed Witanhurst mansion is located in Highgate. Knight Frank were the auctioneers.

The biggest house in London is unlikely to ever come on the market – it’s Buckingham Palace!

*World Livestock Auction Champions

You can hear all the American champions from 1963 to 2006 on the link below -

What surprised me is that while the auctioneers were chanting at a rapid rate, their sales rate was generally less than two per minute. You should hear the tobacco auctioneers – they can do 6 per minute!

Of course, a lot depends on the set-up in the auctionrooms and the customers. Specialist auctions are usually faster than general auctions as the clients will already know their limits.

I have done as high as eight per minute, but at the South East Auction, I prefer to do a steady rate of two per minute for the six hours. In that particular auction, any faster would be too fast for the bidders.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

*Room with a view.

Lighthouse for sale.

The famous Belle Tout lighthouse, situated on top of Beachy Head, is on the market for £850,000.

Estate agents are Strutt and Parker.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

*Pink Panther car for auction

A car made famous by the cartoon series The Pink Panther is going under hammer by Coys Auctioneers in their auction at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire on Saturday next.

The sleek pink car appeared in the titles and credits of the television series featuring the legendary pink cat and Inspector Clouseau.

Estimate is £75,000 to £90,000 but will probably make more.

For more details, see:

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

*Fools and Horses: Auction Scene.

To many fans of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, the final auction house scene was the best ever. Here it is again on You Tube:

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

* Rare Lincoln photo for auction

A previously unknown pre-Civil War ambrotype that is believed to picture Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and her sister Elizabeth Todd Edwards will be up for auction at Nest Egg Auction Gallery on July 28. It would be the only known photograph taken of Lincoln and his wife together.

Experts say the image shows Lincoln standing and wearing a broad-brimmed stovepipe hat. Mary Todd and her sister are positioned in front. Facial-recognition experts have used a variety of forensic techniques and computerized analysis to verify the identity of the people in the picture.

The most striking similarity to Abraham Lincoln in this ambrotype photograph is the left hand shown draped down. It is a known fact that Abraham Lincoln suffered from Marfans Syndrome. A close examination of this hand indicates that it is of a person suffering from this ailment.

A special page on the Nest Egg Auctions Web site allows users to view known photos of President Lincoln and his wife superimposed over the ambrotype image, showing the resemblance.

Following closely on the heels of daguerreotypes and pre-dating tintypes, the ambrotype process involved creating a negative image on a sheet of glass. The glass was sandwiched into a wood or metal case against a black background that resulted in the image appearing to be a positive when viewed from the front. The process was in widespread use from the early 1850s to the early 1860s.
Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842.

The auctioneers state that they will not consider bids under $100,000.

*Get out of Jail?

A jail in Anamosa, Iowa has had to change some of its locks after keys to the maximum-security prison were apparently sold on eBay.

The keys belonged to a locksmith who retired from Anamosa State Penitentiary in 1974. He died two years later and when his wife died last year, an auctioneer was hired to sell off the estate, which included the keys.

Someone bought the keys and put them on eBay.

Monday, 9 July 2007


For really black humour have a look at the following short video on You Tube:

Called ‘Everything is for sale. It's just a matter of price’ it shows firefighters auctioning off the only available landing net to people trapped in a burning building.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

*Oldest Car in the World for Auction

The oldest running vehicle in the world, a steam powered car built in France, will be auctioned on August 19th at Pebble Beach, California.
The car runs on coal, wood, and bits of paper. It takes about a half-hour to work up enough steam to drive. Top speed is around 38 miles per hour. It was built in France in 1884, 12 years before Henry Ford manufactured his first car.

The four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, nicknamed "La Marquise," was originally built for the French Count De Dion. The car has had only two other owners since.

In an 1887 demonstration drive, the car covered a 19-mile course at an average speed of 26 miles per hour. The following year, it won the world's first car race.

Gooding & Company are handling the sale and the estimate is $1.5m to $2M. I suspect that it will make much more.

Friday, 6 July 2007

*Bronte letter sold at auction

A letter written by Charlotte Bronte bitching about the critics of her second novel, 'Shirley' in 1849, has been sold at Christie's for £21,600.

Ann Dinsdale, the Bronte Parsonage Museum librarian at Haworth, said: "Charlotte wrote the letter shortly after she had lost her brother and sister and she was feeling vulnerable and wanted support and encouragement."

*Custer’s battle flag sells at auction

The personal battle flag of General George Custer was sold recently by Heritage Auctions of Dallas.

Hand-sewn by his wife, the flag flew over Custer’s troops as Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. He carried it through all his later military actions, but left it at home on the day of Little Big Horn.

The winning bid nearly reached $900,000.

*Charlie Chaplin’s Camera for auction.

Movie buffs: If you've got about 200 grand burning a hole in your pocket, head over to Christies on July 25th for your shot to own a piece of cinema history. On that day, Christies will be auctioning off Charlie Chaplin's own camera.

The Bell and Howell 2709 model originally sold for $2,000. This was, in 1918, a state-of-the-art hand-cranked 35mm camera. Chaplin bought the camera shortly after founding Chaplin Studios with his brother. The studio owned three others, but this is the one personally bought by the famous film maker and star.

There is very good chance this camera was used on classics like 'The Kid' (1921), 'The Gold Rush' (1924), 'City Lights' (1931), and the masterpiece 'Modern Times' (1936).

The auction includes the camera, a variety of lenses, a side-mounted view finder, wooden legs, a pan-and-tilt head, and 4 "Mickey Mouse Ear" style film magazines.

*Syd's love poem sold at auction

A love poem and sketch drawn by a young Syd Barrett, dedicated to his girlfriend at the time (1965), sold recently for £4,600.

Auctioned at the Cambridge-based Cheffins Salerooms in their Fine Art Auction, the piece was the subject of some very heavy bidding before the hammer finally fell...

The poem included a rare sketch by Barrett, showing his initials RKB in the corner, and depicting his girlfriend (Viv Brans) dancing at a gig by one of David Gilmour's pre-Pink Floyd bands, Jokers Wild.

Viv said: "This poem was written for me by Syd Barrett in 1965. I was his girlfriend at this time (my nickname was Twig) and this lovely little poem describes how he felt about me with perfect observations about behaviour, clothes and colours... "The drawing on the left of the poem shows me dancing and waving my arms in the air... the band playing in the background is ‘Jokers Wild’. This is the band that Dave Gilmour was playing at that time... at the bottom left of the drawing are Syd’s initials RKB."

Despite an estimate of £1,000-2,000, the poem finally sold for £4,600 to a private collector.

Now a 61-year-old grandmother, Viv said: "Now he's gone, I can let it go because it's just sitting around doing nothing. I've still got the words and sentiments." She said it was a "lovely little poem" that contained "perfect observations" of her behaviour and clothes.

*Napoleon love letter fetches £276,000.

A love letter from Napoleon to Josephine, made £276,000 at Christie’s auction this week.

The early love letter was written after a heated argument.
"I send you three kisses - one on your heart, one on your mouth and one on your eyes," Napoleon wrote.

The letter had been valued at £50,000, but unsurprisingly, ended up fetching five times the pre-sale estimate.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

*Cave home makes £100,000 at auction

The cave home that I reported on earlier this week made £100,000 – four times the auctioneer estimate. I had predicted that that it would go far in excess of the estimate. A £25,000 estimate was ridicules.

Rock Cottage in Wolverley, which is hewn out of a sandstone cliff and has three adjoining caves, five acres of mixed woodland and associated garden land.

The auctioneers were surprised with the ‘unbelievable interest’. I’m not sure why, something like this will always generate a lot of excitement. There were over 50 requests for viewing and one person came from Spain for yesterday’s auction. In the end, it was bought by a neighbour because she wanted it "to stay exactly how it is"

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

*Paris Hilton dog food can is making $300 at auction.

Celebrity mania gone mad! Someone has bid $300 for an empty can of Paris Hilton’s dog food. A used make-up container is making $240 and some used tissues and Q-tips are making $65.

Why can’t I get nutters like that at my auctions? However, I have sold Britt Ekland’s chamber pot, Tony Benn’s pipe, a can of frog spawn and Miss England’s bikini at various charity auctions.

If you want to see the rest of the Paris Hilton sale, go to:

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

*South Eastern Auctions.

Conducted my favourite auction on Sunday at South Eastern Auctions in East Peckham. It was a good, well attended auction with 767 lots.

Here is a random sample of the results: Masonic Watch £40. Prince of Wales Medallion £12. Tonsil Guillotine £12. Seed Distributor £50. Bikers Racing Suite £215. Water Scooter £45. Solitaire Diamond Ring £25. There were quite a few engagement rings in the auction but no wedding rings. Odd that! Kids Roll Top Desk £35 – a great bargain. Half set of brand new Golf Clubs in bag £8. Sold about a dozen of those. One set of bagpipes went for £22 but another set made £230, while a violin made £45 and an accordion made £15. That reminded me that Oscar Wilde’s definition of a gentleman was “someone who can play the accordion – but doesn’t”

It was around this time in the auction that I noticed a wife commandeering the bidding paddle and sitting on it to stop her husband bidding. As always, the auction proceeded and a brisk and good humoured pace.

You can see the SEAL website at
Next auction is August 5th.

*Brontë home fails at auction

The four-bedroom birthplace home of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë in Thornton, Yorkshire went up for auction (see 22/6 report below) but failed to sell. Bidding stopped well short of the £200,000 reserve for the stone-built terrace house in the Yorkshire village of Thornton.

A jinx is believed to have settled over 72 Market Street, which has seen successive failures as a butcher's shop, tourist centre and restaurant.

After the auction, a private offer for £178,000 was accepted.

*Cave residence for auction

Ever wanted to live in a cave? Well, now is your chance. Halls Estate Agents of Kidderminster will tomorrow auction Rock Cottage, which is hewn out of a sandstone cliff near Wolverley, Worcestershire. It was last occupied in the late 1940s.

The cottage has no electricity or water supply but boasts a front door, windows and fireplaces, as well as a pantry, sitting room and a bedroom., but it comes complete with three adjoining caves and also nearly five acres of mixed woodland and garden land.

The guide price of £25,000 sounds like a bargain. I predict that it will double that estimate.

*Diana Dress for auction.

The Sotheby July 10th sale, in association with Kerry Taylor Auctions, has an evening gown worn by Princess Diana. The outfit, a fuchsia pink swathed chiffon sari-style evening gown was worn by the Princess on her official visit to Thailand in 1988.

Estimate £25,000 to £35,000.

The costume was designed by Catherine Walker, founder of the Chelsea Design Company, London, which made most of the princess's evening dresses.