Sunday, 27 March 2011


26. Hans Anderson's Fairy Tales.

My father loved auction sales and I would often keep him company. At the previews each of us would be happily occupied, he making notes in the catalogue whilst I rummaged about in boxes of miscellaneous objects, where items that could mostly be labeled 'trash' would sometimes harbour a surprising treasure.
At the auction, if my father were bidding for himself, it would usually be for china or glass, but if he were buying professionally on someone's behalf then it would more likely be for a handsome piece of furniture. He was known for having a 'good eye' and a cool head and he taught me how to bid successfully.
First of all I had to learn the value of my desired purchase, and secondly, and this was most important, to set my price and NEVER exceed it. The difference between value and price could be extreme!
I was to bid quickly, with no hesitation, as though money were no object. When I was very small the auctioneer was indulgent, "Ten shillings to the little girl with the big smile!" As I grew older my success was due to my father's teaching.

Inadvertently I started my father on a new collecting passion when I accompanied him to a house sale and fell in love with an old limited edition book, signed and numbered by the illustrator, Heath Robinson. It was an auction of fine furniture where nobody was interested in a rather shabby book, bound in calf skin and very beautiful. I bought it for ten pounds.
When we got home we studied my purchase. Dad was hooked! 


  1. I love poking around in those boxes of odds and ends.

  2. I imagine your ten quid investment must have done quite well. Not only a great book, but signed by HR too.... Wonderful.

  3. Nice book and nice story of early training. The most I ever spent at auction in one bid was about £50,000. When the hammer came down, the auctioneer said "£50,000 to the gentleman with the sweaty upper lip and deranged expression on his face." I had a limit too, though.

  4. More results of poking around in boxes to come, babyjohn!
    Cro, I've now got some of my father's subsequent collection. There's little space left to move in our house!
    At least he called you a gentleman, Tom!

  5. Where are you? We've only got to No 23!!