Bonhams is set to increase prices from September 1st, bringing them in line with Christies and Sotheby’s. It means that those in Cumbria and Lancashire – where Victorian oak partners desks are unlikely to cost more than £1500 – will now be charged 25% buyer’s premium.
Bonhams commission charges are currently 20% on the first £250,000 in the UK, and 12% thereafter. Sotheby’s and Christie’s charge 25% on the first £25,000, 20% on prices up to £500,000, and 12% after that. Bonham’s say that it is now competing globally against the “big two”, in all areas of art and antiques, and needs to become more competitive. Although this is viable in London and larger cities abroad, it’s not so good for provincial areas in the North West, where people often hop across the border from areas like the Ribble Valley, to sell antique balloon back dining chairs and other fine furniture at Bonham’s in Knowle.
This isn’t a matter of lower value pieces being sold at provincial auction houses. June 7th saw a sale of Cotswold School furniture, including a collection by Gordon Russell, sold at Bonham’s of Knowle. A Gordon Russell antique writing desk, circa 1928, may have realised five figures in London, but sold for less than £1000 in sleepy Solihull. A set of post-Victorian antique dining chairs, after Ernest Gimson and attributed to Peter Waals, fared better at £3120, though only £600 was realised for a Pugin-style Gothic revival refectory antique dining table .
In Preston, antique dealers prove that while auction prices are lower outside the capital, the quality is often equally high, which is good news for those looking for quality Arts & Crafts furniture in Lancashire.
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