Fishponds Finds: highlights from the valuation days

Sep 07, 2018

Following the success of their Fishponds valuation days earlier this year, Wessex Auction Rooms will be returning to the area to host another free valuation event. From 10am-2pm on the Monday 22nd October Tim Weeks (of BBC Bargain Hunt fame) Izzie Balmer FGA DGA (of BBC Street Auction fame) and the Wessex team will be on hand at the Bristol Dance Company to value your items with the opportunity to enter your items into auction.

“We’re delighted to be returning to Fishponds” comments Tim Weeks (Director of Wessex Auction Rooms) “We had people queuing out of the door to see us with their items, I was constantly filling and refilling the kettle to keep everyone supplied with tea and biscuits. This time, we’re going even bigger!”

Highlights from the day include an autograph book containing the Beatles’ signatures. On the 27th May 1963 the vendor saw the Beatles play alongside Roy Orbison and Gerry and The Pacemakers at the Capitol Cinema in Cardiff and collected the signatures of the fab four: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Little did the vendor know when she collected these autographs as a teenager that they’d one day sell at auction for £3000. “I’ve always said being an auctioneer is the new rock ‘n’ roll and selling these autographs was just that” enthuses Tim. “Music is one of my passions so to sell the autographs of such an iconic British band was a great moment for me. What a memorable night that will always be for our vendor!”

An unusual collection of framed WWII medals to include Polish Infantry and Polish RAF medals, with the 1920 Cross of Valor four times awarded was another Fishponds find. “The 1920 Cross of Valor is similar to being mentioned in despatches” notes Izzie (Auctioneer and Head Valuer at Wessex Auction Rooms). “It is awarded to those who have demonstrated deeds of valour and courage on the battlefield and can be awarded up to four times to the same individual. To have the honour of selling this decoration that was awarded to someone who went above and beyond, risking his own life not just once, but four times is just incredible and very humbling.” There was some fierce competition for this lot, with the rarity of the Polish medals (awarded to Polish men fighting in the British Army and RAF during WWII) pushing the bids ever higher. The gavel finally fell at £2,200 to an online buyer.

Two noteworthy art works were discovered at the valuation day, the first being a Laurence Stephen Lowry, ‘The Beach, Deal’ signed limited edition print together with a print of the preparatory sketch which sold for £2,100. “Lowry prices remain strong at auction, with the best prices seen for those that are signed in pen or pencil (and even better if there are few of them signed), are limited edition and in excellent condition” explains Izzie. Lowry is renowned for his portrayals of the industrial districts of North West England; his most popular pictures depicting urban landscapes and everyday life, with Lowry’s distinctive ‘matchstick men’ going about their day-to-day tasks.

The second was a Victorian oil on canvas depicting boats on a Venetian canal by British artist James Salt (1850-1903). There’s something infinitely romantic about Venice and capturing this in paint ensures Venetian scenes remain a popular choice in the art world, particularly those dating to the 19th century. This gilt framed example sold for £550, much to the vendor’s delight.

It’s every auctioneer’s dream when a client comes along with an item they don’t think has any huge value and this was exactly the case with a bronze sculpture brought in at Fishponds. The bronze depicted an abstract man leaning forward and was numbered 1/9. Raised on an oak base it was 34cm in height. The vendor thought it might be worth £100 but Wessex Auction Rooms knew it to be worth a whole lot more than that because they recognised it to be a Michael Ayrton sculpture. Michael Ayrton (1921-1975) was a British artist and writer, turning his hand to painting, printing, design, sculpture, novels, illustrations, poems, costume design, broadcasting and more. His works are influenced by mythology and collections can be seen in the Tate Gallery London, National Portrait Gallery London and the Museum of Modern Art New York. The £100 hoped for by the vendor was turned into £3,400 – it just goes to show you really might be sitting on a fortune!

If you’ve got items you’d like to get valued come along to the Bristol Dance Company, 4A Brook Road, Fishponds BS16 3SQ on Monday the 22nd October to meet the Wessex team who will be on hand to offer advice from 10am-2pm. For more information please call the office on 01249 720888 or email