Prezzies in the auction house

If you’re looking for something a bit different this year then perhaps try your local auction house, suggests Jeremy Thornton. He offers some advice on selecting gifts

On a good day an auction room can feel like Harrods. Anything and everything can pass through the sales room, from advertising signs through to Zeppelins, and it is this variety which makes it the ideal place to look for Christmas presents. I know talking about Christmas in November is bad form, but the smart Christmas present shoppers (as my wife reminds me) are already out looking for that special thing.


What do you buy for the aunt or uncle who seems to have everything? Auction houses have many ideas, dragons, scantily glad ladies, fossils, Faberge jewellery, or a picture of the city. One of the main attractions about an auction room is that so many of the items are handcrafted and can be said unique. Thinking ahead is a good idea so you’ve got the people in mind when searching.

What might surprise you is that the unique ‘hand finished’ tag can apply to some of the items made by the great Victorian manufacturers. For instance hand painted vases and plates by Royal Worcester are never exactly the same.


Unique is an overworked word and is often not justified, but in the case of George Owen’s work there is no doubt about its accuracy. His small reticulated vases had every hole cut individually, which involved weeks  of painstaking work. The task is even more mind blowing when you consider the fact that the clay dries out, and had to be put in a moist box after a few dozen holes had been cut to keep the clay pliable. Owen worked on a vase without a template or pattern, simply cutting each line of holes from the top down, with no certainty the pattern would fit.

The auction houses across the Midlands will be offering sports collectables for a sports mad man, fine jewellery for that special person, sewing items for the adored aunt, or modern design classics for the fashion conscious and much more. With items on auction websites, you can start your Christmas shopping with a cup of tea or glass of wine from home, before heading out to browse the salerooms. Happy hunting.