Why it is exciting to visit an Auction House and what Interiors you might find.
I first became aware of an auction sale room as an adult, when I first married and needed a home and my hubby had always loved this loft style open plan apartment not far from where we rented. It was part of an old cinema that had been converted upstairs from offices into a flat. As it became vacant, we decided to move there, me being 7 months pregnant. From the first time I saw this place I fell in love with it. Having lots of original features and the old projection room that was now a utility room, lots of different levels and big wooden floors. There was high ceilings, no neighbours, so it was very quiet in the evenings and we loved it there. We happily stayed there for 2 years, until my son could have done with a garden and so we moved. Both me and my hubby have always had special memories of that place. Downstairs was an auction room. Every 2 weeks you would see lots of different people coming and going, buying and selling lots of interesting things, antiques and household things of interest.
This is when I first met Paul Beighton who owned the cinema building and had bought it in the 1980’s after it had been a cinema from the early 1920’s and had stayed in action for all those years. The building itself is of an art deco style and has very pretty wooden doors with all original features still left intact. Paul had been interested in antiques since he was a small boy. Growing up his interest turned into a hobby where he would spend his spare time looking for antiques, buying and selling, this was something he was passionate about. Around the same time, Paul met a good friend who shared his passion for antiques Sid Wilkinson, and they both decided it would be a great idea to hold an auction every 2 weeks, they found a suitable building which turned out to be the old Scout Hut in Tickhill. Paul had an old horsebox, to transport and store antiques in, and Sid used his old citroen he had and filled his car. At this time, moving furniture to the scout hut and staying up all through the night to create a good auction sale, both men realised they needed a property full time and the success they were gaining by holding these fortnightly events meant they saw great opportunities for money to made in antiques, and a good business to be gained from it. Paul lived close by to Thurcroft and saw the old cinema up for sale, he loved the building so bought it. Lot’s of hard work planning the layout of the building, putting a new floor into the upstairs to create two floors and not one. The front of the building gave an opportunity for small businesses to sit either side, and one side of the upstairs to be made into a flat.
So 20 years ago when I met Paul, he was was my landlord and I would pop down sometimes, this is when I first ventured in to see what was happening with the sales. Even 20 years ago I loved old things, old furniture. I started to gain an eclectic taste and loved how you could pick up an amazing piece of furniture that was very well made, and not pay too much money for it. An old 19th-century pine chest that could sit in your living room, alongside a new sofa, appealed to me, so I started to venture in there quite a bit. This is when I first loved the buzz of an auction room. Being inside surrounded by other people, some antique dealers, some serious collectors, waiting for the auction to begin with excitement and wonder if the item that had been estimated would make more money. Being quite shy about bidding I always asked someone else to bid for me, as I never felt brave enough to do it on my own. If you haven’t been to an auction, it’s worth going to go take in the atmosphere, see what kind of items sell in a place like this. My dad loved antiques and collected lots of things, so I grew up appreciating old furniture and ornaments. I think this is why I have such a wide taste in interiors because I loved certain things that he owned, and the smell of owning something old and very well made.
The one thing I really do love is that buying an antique is a green thing to do. You’re buying a very well made piece of furniture and it isn’t affecting the environment. I personally think we should all think of this now and again, and look to buy older furniture as well as new.
The word Auction is from the latin name augeo, which means I increase and the process of buying and selling goods by offering them up for bid. In England during the 17th and 18th centuries, the first auctions held would be by candle and would be for the sale of goods. Everyone would know the auction had ended by the flame going out! amazing to think this is how people would buy and sell their goods. There are quite a few auction houses around England that have been here for centuries like Bonhams (1793) so it is interesting to think not only old antiques venture through the doors but also that the buildings themselves tend to be very old which I think is appealing in itself.
Thinking about how times might have changed in the auction sales over the last few years and the fact there is an industrial lamp up for bid that had come out of an old shoe factory I was very interested in purchasing, I thought it would be nice to pop in and see Paul and his son Jody. I wanted to find out what has changed in the world of auctions and antiques over the last few years and where the future lies for a business like this.
Paul is in his late 60’s now and has no sign of giving up his passion for his work. I find this very inspiring because you see so many people that don’t love their job and would definitely give up work should their lottery number come up. A whole range of people in their 60’s are retired, they have spent a long time working and thinking about winding down in life. This is why this auction house works because Paul still loves what he does, and he talked about how he loves so much the element of surprise when an item might come through the doors, the fact that it has been owned by someone who didn’t understand it’s value. Also that an item might go in the bidding process and make so much more money than was ever expected. This is what Paul loves about his job, the fact that he never knows what might happen on the day of a sale. This place also works because there is a dedicated team around that put a lot of effort in to create a good sale. Because I love interiors and see myself working in this field forever, even when I am grey and old, it’s so lovely to see someone who shares that passion about what they do. Talking about what is a popular trend now, Paul said there had been a huge increase in China wanting to buy back the porcelain they had exported many years ago.
Catching up with Jody Paul’s only son, and seeing how he has developed into the expert he is today was nice. Jody was around antiques so much as a youngster because of his dad’s business. I remember when living there, seeing Jody as a young lad being a porter and helping customers carry their goods to their cars. What is nice catching up with Jody now is seeing how he has worked incredibly hard and become so knowledgeable in the process of auctions and the antiques that pass through the sale rooms every day. He is now the main auctioneer for the sales and is an expert when it comes to ceramics. The one passion he has is english porcelain and as we were sat talking a pair of Rockingham porcelain vases came into his office, early 1830, very pretty and his knowledge was impressive.
Thinking of young people and how it’s nice to get young visitors popping through the main doors, I asked Jody whether he felt there were many young visitors that come to the sale room. He said that lot’s of his friends are interested in the Scandinavian style and that the trend for mid-century modern furniture has increased a lot. Going back 15 years when a potential customer would call to say they had a house clearance, the words Teak being mentioned or furniture from the period of the 60’s and 70’s would give a feeling of dread, as these items were not valuable at all. Jump to where we are now and this furniture is in high demand and sells very well in a place like this. Pieces like Ercol are very popular and bring good prices, but also offer great value for money when it comes to the craftsmanship of the furniture.
I asked Jody what was his favourite part of his job, whether that be the auctioneering or the valuations, and he said it was the special fine art sales that are held quarterly. Being a perfectionist he likes to get everything right and loves the whole putting together of a fine art sale. Preparing and displaying the sale, the atmosphere on the actual day and when an item sells very well, is a great feeling for him.
My feeling on an auction sale room is this, don’t be afraid to go venture there. Yes, there will be serious collectors and antique dealers that know each other, but don’t be afraid to go and bid for something you want. Bidding has changed a lot in recent years too, in that there are many processes now that can be followed to get the item you desire. You can place a written bid and leave in the office. You can phone through a bid. There is a new option now that the auction sales go online and you can bid online. Then there is the old fashioned way of standing in the room and putting your hand up and beating a person in the room for the item you desperately want.
Sometimes you can leave a bid thinking there is no way you can win, and be very surprised. My tip is to only ever go to the amount you have set your limit at. Once I left a bid for three whole boxes of cars for my little boy, I won them all for £10.00. There are some real classics in there, tons of original matchbox cars, and even the old 007 bond car similar to what my brother used to own. My son has had hours of fun with these cars, and to walk into a shop and buy a matchbox car at today’s prices you would only be able to buy one of these for the same price.
Visiting there, I saw some industrial lights that were nice, an old lamp, and lots of industrial vintage items. wandering upstairs to the fine art sale that is happening this wknd, I saw the 18th Century Italian school unframed oil on canvas which is a portrait of Madonna at prayer and have to say if you think it looks beautiful in the picture the real thing is just stunning. This is estimated to make between £2’000 and £3’000.
Paul Beighton Auctioneers have a sale this wknd, today being the special fine art sale and tomorrow the 19th March being the general sale. Find all the details of future sales here. The sale room is just off the M18 and close to Rotherham.