In July, Robert Stones, the Managing Director of Nantwich, Cheshire auctioneers Peter Wilson, announced a personal campaign to attract more antique furniture to his sales and sell it for prices his clients would be pleased with. He called it “a fightback against the flatpack”.
On Thursday last week (September 15) he stepped down from the rostrum elated with the “terrific response and brilliant prices” achieved by 85 lots of early oak, Regency, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian pieces offered in the autumn fine art auction, complaining only that he wished he’d had more to sell.
“I went out on house visits and got it into the sale, I catalogued it and I was on the rostrum to sell it,” he said, “and I’m delighted with the results.
“Every auctioneer in the land knows that in these uncertain days, gold and jewellery is eclipsing all other departments in the saleroom, but the brilliant prices we achieved for clients’ antique furniture proves there’s still a demand for quality pieces offered with realistic estimates.
“Demand was strong for early oak and 18th century walnut. A superb walnut chest on chest with nine drawers that was unsold in our July sale sold this time for £1,400 against a presale low estimate of £800,” he said. It was purchased by the Welsh trade.
The same buyer paid the same money for a good 18th century walnut bureau bookcase, the upper part with two candle slides and two bevelled mirror doors enclosing shelves, the lower part with fall front revealing a stepped interior and well above two short and two long drawers. It came from the same Welsh house as the chest in chest.
A rare and unusual Welsh primitive oak and ash five-legged child’s armchair, see above image, was perhaps the most notable 18th century vernacular furniture, selling to a London buyer for £650, more than three times its estimate, while another highlight was a group of eight 17th century oak straightback stools, made respectively in North Cheshire, South Lancashire or Derbyshire.
Most wanted were two with central back panels carved with stylised flowers and grapes on pricked backgrounds, one with a bobbin-turned front stretcher, which each sold for £750 against estimates of £300-400. Another retaining traces of original black painted background and gun barrel front legs sold for £420.
Top price in the section was the £1,800 paid by a Shropshire buyer for an imposing 205cm (six foot six inch) wide George III oak and mahogany crossbanded breakfront housekeeper’s cupboard, the upper section with four doors with fielded panels, the base with central two door cupboard, flanked by seven drawers.