Auctions Covid Style

I remember many, many years ago, when my father was alive and computers were in their infancy, having a discussion with him about the internet and he said to me “one day we will sell a whole auction on a computer and no one will be in the saleroom”. I remember laughing with him in a “Yeh, right Dad?!” sort of a way. Well Dad…. you were right.

Last Monday at Sheffield Auction Gallery that happened. No one there, but everyone there, no need to distance because everyone was at home. It was amazing and the prices were exactly what we would have expected from a “regular” auction and in some cases, better.

One thing Covid-19 has done for us all is to make us think outside of the usual box our thoughts tend to be restricted to. The pub pulling pints of beer from the back of a van, until it was stopped. The restaurants turning into takeaways. Endless small shops delivering food, filling a gap the supermarkets can’t cope with. The list goes on and on.

Believe it or not, the auction fraternity is also thinking outside of it’s own little box. Well, some of us are. Now it is well known in many circles that my ability with and love of, all things IT is questionable, so it is difficult for me to take any credit for Monday’s auction, but by golly I am still going to bask in it’s glory. It was brilliant.

This is the way forward through our Covid-19 experience and ourselves along with some of the other Auction Houses around the country are marching onward. When the present crisis is a dim and distant memory these sales will still be running alongside the regular auctions.

Collection of goods following the sale will still be very controlled with strict distancing observed by all and of course the postal delivery service will take a great deal.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Reminiscing; continued…

Christmas is over for another year and as the tree comes down my thoughts return again to all those highlights our valuers gave me when I asked, as we used to ask our children after a holiday, “what were your best bits”.

Our man who knows more about toys than any I have met, John Morgan, has a coat which buttons up over a number of specialisms in addition to toys. One is militaria and he got very excited about a “dirty dozen watch” he sold for £12,000. So excited in fact that a special article is needed later in the month to tell its story. Sometimes, as John rightly says, it’s the vendor we fall in love with as much as the item they are selling. Like the professional aircraft engineer who in his spare time made the most amazing model engines we have ever sold. Lots like that just don’t come along very often.

A WWII Era Dirty Dozen Military Watch The Grana signed dial with Arabic numerals and second subsidiary dial in plain stainless steel case stamped W.W.W M18244 to case back to later expanding bracelet.

I have to say I love a good handbag and Janet Webster our ceramics, glass and vintage fashion specialist pointed me in the direction of one gorgeous bag we sold this year with a couple of suitcases. Louis Vuitton, with original receipts from Paris they sold for £3000. We sell quite a few wedding dresses and one this year had the newspaper cutting from “hatches, matches and dispatches” 1939 pinned to it. How wonderful.

To finish; I think everyone knows our furniture specialist Andrew Jameson. He has been studying the cabriole leg and carved knee since he was a boy. As Andrew explained furniture is in the doldrums a little, but quality will always win through. To this end he pointed me to a fabulous quality French kingwood vitrine which sold for £7000 in our last sale of the year.

What a wonderful way to sum up the year- “quality always wins through”

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

The MGA Motor Car

It is no secret among family, friends and colleagues that I am a lover of the motor car. I love every aspect of ownership, from buying and selling, discussing and driving, to cleaning and polishing. What is there not to like, the motor car is a wonderful invention.

I love modern cars but I also love classics and one of my favourite marques is the MG. Over my years of car ownership I have purchased and polished two MGB GTs and two convertibles. The beauty of the MG marque is the enormous following it boasts and the incredible ease with which spare parts and repairs can be accessed.

Now the MGB in my eyes is a beautiful vehicle, but the MGA is probably one of the prettiest cars the world has ever seen (not including the Jaguar E-Type of course). Here at the Sheffield Auction Gallery we have, amongst our many other specialist departments, a classic car department and it was lucky enough to secure the sale of a gorgeous MGA for last weeks auction.

Coming from a deceased estate the car was built in Abingdon in 1960 and exported to California where it enjoyed a wonderful sunshine life. Missing its country of origin in the early 1990s it returned to this country and was lovingly stripped down and converted to right hand drive.

The MGA is a car which was built from 1955 to 1962. By the time the curtain fell on it’s production over 100,000 cars had been built and sold. The hammer fell on ours at £15,500.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Flying home for Christmas

Forgetting this week’s escapades and traumas at Gatwick Airport which unfortunately affected hundreds of thousands of people, this Christmas many families will board many aeroplanes all over the world and fly all over the world to spend time with relatives. How lucky we all are to have such easy access to air travel.

Back in the 1950s foreign travel was much more exotic and dare it be said much more exclusive and from that very time came one of the lots in our last ‘Floats, Flies and Drives’ specialist model auction held in December. It was an aluminium Travel Agent’s display aircraft. What a wonderful thing it was too, with a 77cm wing span the model depicted a Douglas DC-7C Seven Seas Airliner bearing the ‘Viking’ logo of Scandinavian Airline Systems or SAS as it is more commonly known. Our model would have graced a Travel Agent’s window in the late 1950s.

SAS was formed in 1946 following an agreement between airlines in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The DC-7C under the SAS livery holds a unique place in civilian aviation history because in 1957 it was used to launch a regular service from Copenhagen to Tokyo. The difference with this service was that it flew over the North Pole and saved over 18 hours of flying time and 2000 miles, compared to the traditional route.

With relatively few Travel Agents at the time, original display aircraft are rare and highly sought after. This particular model was in good condition and attracted a great deal of interest finally selling for £1200 including premium.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Pedal Power Leads The Way

An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car topped the prices at Sheffield Auction Gallery’s toy sale on June the 4th. The Devillaine Brothers machine was in a remarkably complete condition for its age and, although showing signs of wear, still raced away to £1,350 hammer price between two telephone bidders, against a £500-800 pre-sale estimate.

An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car
An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car

“This car travelled all the way from France for the sale and despite the condition it shows how genuine rarity holds it’s value. I am delighted with the result”, commented Specialist Valuer and Auctioneer John Morgan.

For more information please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

RAF Medals Flying High in Sheffield

There had been plenty of pre-sale interest prior to Sheffield Auction Gallery’s Medals & Militaria Auction on 2nd July, particularly in an interesting medal group, consigned for auction by a local Sheffield Client.

A WWII RAF DFM Medal Group, made up of a Distinguished Flying Medal, Africa Star, Italy Star, France Germany Star, 1939-45 Star, War Medal to Flight Lieutenant 1045555 Thomas Dickinson, RAF. Also included in the Lot was the original flying log, photographs, Kings Badge, memoirs and other associated items.

A WWII RAF DFM Medal Group
A WWII RAF DFM Medal Group

Thomas Dickinson was born 1923 and trained with The Royal Canadian Air Force and qualified as a first pilot on Wellington’s and Halifax in December 1942/ January 1943. By March 1943 Sgt Dickinson was with RAF 148 Squadron, a Special Duties Squadron based in Libya flying Halifax aircraft, many for the Special Operations Executive. In May 1943 Dickinson piloted a Halifax on a mission to drop Bill Deakin (later Sir William Deakin) to meet up and act as GCHQ representative with the Yugoslav Resistance and Tito. Deakin was parachuted in over the mountains Montenegro. Due to bad weather Dickinson spent over two hours near the drop zone waiting for the weather to clear. It was for this mission Dickinson was awarded the DFM. A copy of the RAF bulletin is in the lot and makes a typical “SOE” mention of the task. The episode is also mentioned in Deakins biography, “The Embattled Mountain”. By early 1944 Dickinson had retrained on Mosquito’s and joined 692 Squadron flying missions over Europe. On June 28th 1944, with over 1000 logged flying hours, Dickinson was forced to crash land his Mosquito in a corn field near Antingham in East Anglia following engine failure. A crash he was lucky to survive. There is a letter with a first-hand account of the crash by his navigator in the lot. F/L Thomas Dickinson did not fly again in the war, leaving the RAF in July 1946 and returning to Gateshead.

Footnote: Bill Deakins wife was Pussy Deakin, an SOE Operative on whom Ian Fleming based his James Bond character “Pussy Galore” in Goldfinger.

On the day the sale commenced with substantial bids on the auctioneers book, against the room, telephone and internet bidders. The lot opened at £2100 and quickly rose to a final bid of £3800 (plus 17.5% BP) to a telephone bidder (against the internet).

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s next medals & Militaria Auction will be 23rd October and Specialist Valuer John Morgan invites entries for this Sale.

For more information please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.