We all love a bargain, and many of us live in hope that one day we will visit a car boot sale or a second hand shop and unearth a gem that is worth a fortune, writes Peter White.
Alas, for most of us it is nothing more than an unfulfilled dream, but just occasionally the fortunate few do hit the jackpot. Some even find a rare artefact that has been gathering dust in their loft for decades, or realise that a seemingly worthless object they have been staring at in their house, is worth thousands of pounds.
You only have to ask Warren Riches, who recently became Managing Director of the Island’s two leading auction rooms, Hose Rhodes Dickson Auction Rooms and Island Auction Rooms, when they joined forces to trade under the new company name of ‘HRD Auction Rooms Ltd’.
Warren joined Island Auction Rooms in 1997, graduated to auctioneer and now heads the joint venture, with father Hugh Riches and Jamie Busby from HRD, as fellow directors.
During his time on the rostrum, he has seen two record-breaking lots go under the hammer.
“We sold a Polynesian wooden paddle that had been standing against a wall in an Island home. It was beautifully carved and was quite rare. It had good provenance, came from Easter Island, and was a fertility ceremonial paddle.
“Previously the UK record for a similar paddle was £30,000, but that one sold for £220,000 to a dealership.
“We also had a quality Quare long-case clock which was on the Island. It was very rare because it only had to be wound up once a year. The case was tortoiseshell and brass inlay, and it was sold for £240,000 to a renowned collector on the Isle of Man.”
There have been auction rooms in Shanklin since 1894, opened by the Morris family at a time when many of today’s antiques were probably just being made. In 1933 the Morris family went into partnership with the Prestons, and Clive Preston later took sole ownership of it. During the Second World War, the auction room became a furniture depository store, and even suffered slight bomb damage which caused the ceiling to bow.
The auction rooms were particularly popular in the War because people were able to buy furniture without coupons, which limited the availability of virtually all other goods and food. The auction room changed hands again in the 1950s when it was acquired by Albert Bull and Porter, later to become Watson, Bull and Porter and then Nationwide.
Warren’s father Hugh Riches went to work at the auction rooms in the early 1980s, and was soon appointed manager. His plan was initially to open another auction room in Newport, but instead he took ownership of the Shanklin rooms. Warren followed him into the business, and is in no doubt the biggest change he has seen is the advent of internet bidding. He said: “It has revolutionised auctions. We may have 100 people in the room on sale day, but there can be another 300 or so around the world waiting to bid on items.
“Trends are always changing. Brown furniture is still selling but will never reach the heights it did when I first started, and things that people don’t use are also difficult to sell now. Tea services, ornaments and sideboards for example; people don’t want the item or the piece of furniture they sat in. But other items are still flying through the door.”
Although monthly auctions still take place in both Shanklin and Brading, it is planned to hold the sales under the same roof in the near future.
A specialist Oriental sale takes place on November 21st with anything from Chinese ceramicware to Japanese ivory, oriental furniture and art. To enter items just call (01983) 863441 or email [email protected]
Story by Beacon Editor, Peter White. Pick up your free copy of the Beacon magazine across the Isle of Wight!