I visited Taylor's Auction Rooms in Montrose last Saturday. Some items that looked good on their website did not hold up in the flesh, and conversely some items that one passed over on the Web. jumped out in the showroom, due to their sheer quality.
One example of the latter was this oak Arts and Crafts dresser, with carved lions and brass scroll work. This would have been ideal for Balintore, but it went for £400 (too much); the feet needed fixing and the size would have made transport a challenge.
|Arts and Crafts oak dresser - sold for £400|
|Arts and Crafts oak dresser - carved lion|
|Arts and Crafts oak dresser - brass scroll work|
Another suitable item was this HUGE oak bookcase - very few pieces are large enough for the library of the castle which has long since been stripped of its original bookcases. The bookcase went for £250 which is a good price, but transport would have been a costly hassle on top. If the price had been lower then I would have jumped in. You always need to be prepared to walk away, and conversely you also need to know which items you would jump on, despite any problems, if the price is right. I think I recognise the bookcase as coming from the Scottish Parliament as I spotted similar attributed ones on eBay.
|huge bookcase - sold for £250|
The good thing about these auction rooms is that there is no need to leave empty handed. I picked up a couple of electric saws for a tenner, exactly the type my builder had been requesting. I had been looking for wall bracket oil lamps for some time, and I bagged the pair below for £35, after a minor bidding war. The picture shows the lamps after I polished-up the fonts (the oil holding bit). The two brass fonts had different patinas - perhaps they had been stored differently? - so I brought them back to the same finish, being careful not to overdo it. However, as I plan to paint the cast iron brackets gold (there are signs of gilding) then the fonts have to be reasonably close to gold to match. Old brass polishes to a "buttery gold" colour which is attractive in itself, more modern brass polishes "white" which is not a good look - and then time is required to develop a patina to soften this. I have heard this is due to the different copper content.
|pair of bracket oil lamps - bought for £35|
There was a shoulder-mount stag's head in great condition at the auction which would have been ideal. You can tell the condition of a stag's head by the ears, as these are the first bits to go. These should be round and intact with no nibbles. The castle had six stag's heads in the Great Hall at one stage. However, the stag's head at the auction went for £180. I walked away.
You both win and lose at an auction and never know the "haul" in advance. Saturday's haul was very modest indeed and yet even if there is nothing in your haul, you have seen and learned more than when you entered.