Review of the Year 2013

2013 proved to be a year of milestones for Hampshire’s leading auctioneers Andrew Smith and Son. Over the course of 12 hectic months and twenty auctions, they have processed over 14,500 individual lots.

January started with the first of their monthly Saturday Interiors auctions in the new, purpose built No 2 saleroom. These hugely popular sales cater for all tastes and ages. Offering an eclectic mix of items, one can purchase anything from a bicycle or lawn mower to a four poster bed, sofa, whole dinner service or even an electric guitar and amp. Who needs flat packed furniture when you can furnish your home with quality pieces to create a stylish and individual look? It is not just antique items on offer – contemporary, vintage and retro furnishings make regular appearances if this is more your thing.

February heralded the first of the two day Fine Art Antiques and Interiors auctions in the main saleroom, with an appropriately wintery landscape by F.M. Kruseman selling for a record £74,000, in a strong picture section.

March saw the continuing strength of Asian art with fierce bidding for a 20th century Chinese Doucai ovoid vase and associated cover which finally sold for £26,000.

April welcomed Rich and Sean as new porters to the saleroom, and to assist existing porter Andy under the experienced eye of Saleroom Manager Adam. Together they keep track of the plethora of items through the saleroom, moving stock, carrying out collections, receipting items and many other jobs. The porters are such an integral part of the auction business and most visitors to the saleroom are impressed with how helpful they are.

One of the memorable features of Andrew Smith and Sons premises is their location in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, within a traditional Hampshire Flint Barn in a working farm complex. The changing seasons are brought sharply into focus on the surrounding fields, and spring this year was particularly spectacular both outside and inside the Saleroom. The highlight of the month of May was the high price achieved for a Chinese bronze censer dating from the 18th century, previously used as a plant pot! After intense bidding the hammer fell at £12,000, and has since prompted a flurry of these plain bronze vessels through the saleroom - some have even been posted to the auctioneers from distant corners of the UK.

June busted out all over with a trio of Saturday Interiors auctions organised to cater for the large quantities of stock that came flooding through the doors. Bidders were undeterred and still flocked to the saleroom, taking advantage of the warm weather and buying various obelisks, garden furniture and statues to enhance gardens, along with more bicycles ready for that summer bike ride.

July bloomed with the completion of the new terrace outside the café, creating a more harmonious link between both salerooms. A new kitchen was installed, and a better sound system, to allow bidders to hear the sale whilst enjoying their hot drinks and food. Further improvements for the buildings will take place during 2014 to ensure the best possible experience for both vendors and buyers to the saleroom.

August welcomed the film crew of the popular BBC 1 programme ‘The Antiques Road Trip’ who came to the saleroom for the second time. Such filming always brings a flurry of eager fans to the saleroom, and as regular contributors to Flog It! and other similar programmes, the auction house is now a dab hand at accommodating camera crews, lighting technicians, soundsmen, and presenters to boot.

September witnessed a Chinese cloisonné vase selling in excess of £31,000, and a Tongan Apai-Apai war club which sold for £9,000, proving the saleroom’s success at sourcing and selling diverse items. Whilst both of these items sold in the room, the continued success of live bidding over the internet is testament to the auction house always striving to provide improved facilities and services to clients. The internet now accounts for a third of all winning bids, linking buyers from all over the globe to Itchen Stoke, and helps push prices up due to active underbidding. It is not uncommon for buyers to bid on their laptops or mobile phones whilst bobbing around on their boats in the Carribean, drinking their tea in Beijing , barbequing in Brisbane or just from their armchair in Alresford!

October’s Fine Art, Antiques and Interiors auction, like all our Auctions, included items consigned through Andrew Smith & Son’s popular Winchester monthly valuation day held at their City centre office in St Thomas’ Street. Valuations can always take place at the Itchen Stoke saleroom, but some people do prefer the convenience of Winchester, and the company will continue to hold these Wednesday valuation days throughout 2014.

November continued with sales going from strength to strength and with the housing market picking up, the storage barns were soon packed to the rafters. There appears to be no respite in the good quality items consigned, from textiles and vintage clothing to jewellery, clocks, pictures, rugs, china, furniture and collectables, and no shortage of buyers who are gripped by auction fever.

December has been a busy month, with strong prices achieved in the Fine Art, Antiques and Interiors auction, but there is still time to reflect on the past year and to look forward to 2014 and the programme of sales already in the calendar. Mince pies and mulled wine have been offered to clients, who in return have fed biscuits to the three dogs, Apollo, Hector and Monty, who can tell the moment someone enters the building whether they have goodies in their pocket for them.

The role of auctioneers and valuers has changed over the past few years. We have had to become experts in computer and internet technology, photography, interior design and removal and house clearance, stock management and logistics. We could probably give a reliable quote to post and pack the most obscure item to any corner of the globe. We provide a listening ear and help and advice at times of great stress due to moving house, debt, divorce, and death. Not to mention the more usual roles of valuing, cataloguing and auctioneering. It has been a busy year indeed, but it could not have been done without the continued support and enthusiasm of clients, vendors, purchasers and spectators alike. May we wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year and look forward to welcoming new and old clients alike in 2014.