Boom or Bust

12th March 2009

This year's second Furniture and Works of Art sale at Woolley and Wallis has continued to reassure provincial auction houses that the recession has yet to hit them as hard as the London salerooms. With both this sale and the January sale totalling around the quarter of a million mark, there is little to show that buyers are shying away from investing in art and antiques.

The star lot on Tuesday 10th March was two carved marble portrait busts whose Roman ancestry overrode their relatively extensive damage and restoration. Consigned by a private vendor, local to the saleroom, the busts were underbid by a private collector on the telephone, but eventually knocked down for £25,000 to Galerie Chenel, a French dealer who had flown over from Paris to bid in the room.

There were similar successes in the Clocks and Barometers sale the following day, where a late George III mahogany longcase clock by London maker Vuilliamy sold for £40,000 against an estimate of £10,000 - 15,000. There was huge interest in the clock prior to the sale, with twelve telephone lines booked. However, many of these didn't get a look in as the bidding took off between the ultimately successful telephone bidder and a determined but disappointed underbidder in the room. The vendor had bought the clock in the early 1980s for £4,300; the tenfold increase proving the purchase to have been a very worthwhile investment.

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