Saturday 2nd December 2017 saw my first ‘Design At Home’ midcentury modern and contemporary design auction with Dawson’s Auctions, and my return to the auction world (other than as a buyer!) after 16 years. And I loved it – every single bit of it! It was great to connect with new clients, and reconnect to existing clients in another manner other than under my usual hats as a dealer, writer, consultant and publisher.
I’ve been lucky enough to know Aubrey Dawson, Managing Director of Dawson’s Auctions, for many years and it was great to work with him and his experienced team, including Joe Trinder, a past Chairman of Antiques Young Guns, and a past President of NAVA.
The auction has world has changed a lot in 16 years and, obviously, so much of it is digital and online now. When I started at Bonhams in 1996, all catalogue descriptions were handwritten on triplicate forms and a catalogue ‘paste-up’ was literally that – with paper, scissors, and glue! Now it’s slick, fast and efficient, and do-able at any time, from anywhere in the world. Related to that, perhaps the most impressive and interesting online aspect was the amount of bidders who registered to bid online via The Saleroom. Their technology allows bidders to view the catalogue and images, leave online bids before the sale, and also to bid live direct into the saleroom on the day for as close to that ‘auction excitement’ as possible. The audience online was many times larger than any audience in a saleroom I experienced 16 years ago, and we had bids coming from the UK, the US, and across Europe.
The auction itself was ably taken in an efficient and entertaining manner by Joe Trinder, and we were all delighted with the results. We sold across the board, from furniture to ceramics to pictures, and nearly all of the top lots got away. I was particularly delighted with the hammer prices for two studio glass vases and a bottle by Samuel Herman. The three fetched a total of over £5,300 together, making them amongst the highest prices ever achieved at auction for Herman’s work. For these and other sale highlights, see the gallery below. Futhermore, there were a number of strong after-sales after the auction had ended.
Not only was it a very successful proof of concept, but it’s also solid ground to build from. I’m really looking forward to our second ‘Design At Home’ auction which will be held in June 2018 – and lots of lots for that are coming in already!
April 2020 Update – Due to the Covid pandemic, ‘Design At Home’ auctions have now been discontinued. Dawson’s still hold regular monthly auctions of antiques, art and design.
*Figures have been rounded up or down to the nearest £10 or £5