Guides

There's none so blind as those that will not see.

OK, it's stretching the meaning of the saying but after all the studying of the lots at a recent auction (including us looking at detailed photos of the lots the night before) how come nobody spotted this little beauty?

Titanic memorabilia is a major collectable area and the hairs on the back of our necks should have been standing on end when this was included in a mixed lot of crested china. Crested china was produced by a number of porcelain companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the most well known being Goss. They would feature the crest of a town or city and made in interesting shapes,… view more »

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The photo to the right is of a porcelain vase with Royal Worcester backstamp and Registered Number 227600. We all use jargon but sometimes it helps to have a brief explanation of terms used! We will add regularly to this glossary of antiques and collectable terms.

Acid etching Technique, using hydrochloric acid, to eat into glass and so create the desired design
Antique A collectable object over 100 years old
Art Deco A style, prevalent between 1920s and 1940, bolder and more angular than Art Nouveau, often with geometric and streamlined shapes
Art Nouveau A style, prevalent between 1890 and WWI, whereby object design was based on organic forms
Arts & Crafts movement European and North American movement, prevalent in the… view more »

We love to find vintage autograph books! They usually date from the late nineteenth century through to the 1930s and we find that the late Victorian era examples tend to be full of moral rectitude and earnest desires for happiness and health.

The popularity of such books appears to increase during the Edwardian era, WWI and the 1920s. The content began to change for in addition to classical and literary quotations, humorous quotes and drawings are seen, as well as many standard inclusions:

An invitation to participate "All my friends I now invite, a trifle in this book to write"
The entreaty not to read the next page, which then has an admonition about inquisitiveness
For a girl, a rhyme about marriage "Hilda Hobbsview more »

Mid March 2015 and the time had come for a clear out if we were to avoid accusations of hoarding. And the first decision we made was that we would forego buying new stock to give us chance to work through our old unsorted stock. Missing our regular auctions felt very strange, but it was essential.

There was a box of old keys that we had used as a door stop for months. Broken down into homogenous lots, sales soon mounted, the star lot being old clock and watch keys.

Box of old glass stoppers...off you go to online auction.

Those pieces of Capodimonte that were too large and fragile to pack? Large boxes acquired and they started to sell.

Automobilia posters… view more »

"Best packing I have seen - great item and fast delivery - thanks". This was in respect of the torsion clock in the picture and while it is the kind of feedback we like to get, getting antiques and breakables safely to the buyer demands attention to detail.

If sending breakables by post then good packaging is essential. Poor packaging can leave both sender and recipient disappointed and out of pocket, as well as potentially causing danger from broken glass or china shards.

We've learned a few tricks over the years from sending many thousands of breakables by post and, while some may seem obvious, here are the essentials to minimise the risks.

1. Only send what the parcel company and the laws… view more »

Sometimes an innocuous auction find can lead to fascinating history.

On this occasion it was a 1944 letter from Colonel F.W.R. Douglas, of Auxiliary Units, G.P.O. Highworth, Wilts., congratulating Captain W.H.L. Chattin on his MBE.

Our curiosity was piqued, an odd address for a military unit and what were the Auxiliary Units functions?. We bought the auction lot, it was quite expensive!

Later research showed that G.P.O. Highworth was a post office run by postmistress Mabel Stranks, and was the secret gateway to GHQ Coleshill, the training centre for organised resistance to complement regular army defence in the event of a German invasion. A comprehensive internet archive of the British resistance, including Mabel Stranks' operation of the secret gateway, is at view more »

We watch too much collectables television and, judging by comments from friends and neighbours, we are not alone.

Who can forget heavyweight antiques expert James Lewis (pictured right) in "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" buying a vase from a dealer at a car boot for £38, then identifying it as a rare Nantgarw piece and selling it for £3650?

To us the key for a good collectables programme is the mix of entertainment and information. Using these guidelines to arrive at our scores, here's our top ten. Let us know if you disagree!

10: Cash in the Attic Is there cash to be generated for a special need by selling your old things? Items are selected by "experts" and… view more »

In 1901 Leo Ditriechstein's play, "Are you a Mason?" premiered in New York and this may well have been the inspiration for the "Are you a Mason?" American black and white postcards and the subsequent National series of humorous Masonic postcards published by Millar & Lang of Darnley Works, Darnley Street Glasgow.

While these cards are parodies, they were often purchased by Freemasons.

Today, reproductions of these cards are easily found, but original Millar & Lang humorous Masonic postcards are quite rare and highly collectable.

We have been able to acquire the following original postcards which are available for purchase In our Masonic Postcards Section

1614 Are you a Mason? The Initiation. (1614)
1615 Are you a Mason? The Sign From Labour to Refreshment… view more »

You will find record cases like these, stuffed full of 1960s-1970s LPs, at many auctions. The case itself is probably worth more than the cost of the lot.

Appearance. In the world of collectables it is often wise to ignore the old adage "dont judge a book by its cover". If an item, despite flaws or damage, looks the part or has presence, then value is enhanced. Beauty may be skin deep but it still outsells drab every day of the week

Is the original packaging present? Original packaging and instructions can be significant enhancers of value. While the contents may comprise the bulk of the value, particularly if in mint condition, packaging and instructions can have value even if the contents… view more »


Sometimes it pays to take a chance.

It is the middle of an auction and a lot that we had walked past earlier, a large but dilapidated wood chest, came up for sale. We had no intention of bidding until the auctioneer offered that the chest contained some interesting plans.

To us interesting is THE magic word. Hearing it unhinges any common sense we possess and we decided to bid blind. Unfortunately someone else had obviously examined the contents in more detail and had left a commission bid, that was higher than we wanted to go. Gritting teeth, we bid up, and up again, until the lot was secured.

Later came the reveal, some old maps, and other restricted licence maps that… view more »

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