Looking back at Lockdown

6th July 2020

Looking back at Lockdown Image

Here is the Asian Art & Ceramics Sale Report that we never had the time to publish...


‘Since the closure of auction rooms across the UK on the 23rd March the auction profession has gone into complete lock down in it’s natural form.


The only variation is where certain types of sale can be readily be executed in an online only format. 


Some sales have been allocated to a “timed auction” only basis, but this is either where the product is homogenous or there is an acknowledgement that the auctioneer cannot add value from the rostrum.


Golding Young’s planned sale on the 2nd April of Asian Art and other ceramics was rescheduled to Monday 20th April and auctioneer Colin Young conducted the sale from his dining table at home. In the interests of the social distancing the GY-Live! bidding operative was  77 miles away.  This online only webcast sale was executed without a single person in any of the firm’s six offices/salerooms and with only members of the Young Family either still being employed or simply conscripted!  Head office for the entire organisation is currently Kirsty Young’s dining table.   


The sale was opened by one of the star lots, in this case it is a fine and rare Japanese ken tanto with dragon mounts.   It is a very unassuming but a high quality object from the outside with a koshirae or scabbard designed with a silver dragon entwined throughout the length and bound in wire and decorated with bands of gilt tiles, upon drawing the double sided blade it revealed the stunning horimono depicting the standing figure of Fudo Myoo with flaming mandala beneath clouds and a reverse decoration of equal calibre.  The tang with single hole,  inscribed and signed.


The consignment was entered by a local vendor who inherited it from her father.  The only thing that can be remembered of it’s history is that it had always been under the bed!  As a serving member of the army it is highly likely it was an acquisition during his military career.


Coming to the sale there was the usual volume of interested parties and registered interests and in typical Golding Young style when you have a really good lot there is little point in publishing an estimate.  It was readily accepted that it was likely to be a five figure sum, but caution is always best when issues of condition are to be considered.  The blade had a small amount of discolouration and the tang had a consistent level of ferrous oxide.


The bidding was rapid in the run to £15,000 and with a little extra encouragement and in splitting the final bids  it was cranked up to £26,000 on the GY-Live! platform.


Continuing the theme was a fine Japanese Meiji period okimono of a minogame which is known as the straw backed turtle and signed by Ryubundo realising £1,200.


To complete the hat trick on the first few lots was a fine pair of Chinese reticulated porcelain table lanterns which realised £1,900.


These three lots set the tone for the rest of the sale with many three figure sums for many lots including groups of ceramics.


Other notable prices in the Asian section was lot 3176 a pair of Meiji period cloisonne vases at £1, 200 and a similar period Satsuma koro and cover signed Kinkozan zo which was the biggest surprise of the day at £2350 despite some damage to the interior lid seating rim.


A run of mainly 20thC but including 19thC general Chinese ceramics really hit the imagination of buyers starting at 3212 with a group of jars and covers that sold for £775, followed by a series of notable results for the more general items.                                                        


Returning to the Japanese interest lots a large Nabeshima dish of 31cm diameter sold for £550 (lot 3260) and lot 3266 an 18thC Japanese Arita shell shaped koro and cover sold for £700.


Whilst all the glory was in the Asian section more local ceramics faired well with a large collection of Royal Worcester blush ware which usually struggles to meet the levels of pricing and past glories but nevertheless received consistent and strong biding throughout.  Whilst prices may not be what they were there is still the amount of competition to ensure that it makes its open market value.  A paired of Meissen vases and cover (lot 3103) despite a small renovation to one of the finials realised £500 and a more traditional collectors market of a early 19thC classical decorated blue and white pottery tureen with ladle and cover selling for £380.


In summarising the sale auctioneer Colin Young made the following comments ‘It was surreal to be selling from my dining room table and beyond the many commission bids on the book and the two bidding platform screens in front of me the only other possibility of a bidder was my goldfish.  Colin also added that a good summary of this sale was that despite being of Eastern promise it had a Western feel - The Good, the Bid and the Ugly!


We had Good items that were desirable, we had lovely clients who for the first time ever thanked us for condition reports. 


The Bid was strong, consistent and a great success, but as has become the norm with such sales we also had...


...the Ugly.  Having helped so many prospective bidders presale on lot 3016 the blue and white porcelain beaker vase to a hammer price of £3250 this was followed by one of the most unprofessional things anybody can do at an auction. Ask questions about condition and ask for additional photographs  AFTER they have already bought it and refusing to pay for it until they get their own way.


But let’s not end on a negative, the positive is that auction sales are conducted on basic principals of trust and integrity in a digital age that is one factor that can be translated into live webcast auctions, where a real auctioneer can make all the difference.

« Back to News