The economic outlook may be glum – but the antiques trade is thriving. That’s the message from Salisbury auctioneers Woolley & Wallis, anyway, who have just announced hammer sales in 2010 of £23.36m. The impressive figure was mainly down to the boom in popularity of Chinese artworks – but dealers in Preston say that antique desks and Victorian dining chairs also saw a boost in sales.
The figure represents a massive increase of 97% over the firm’s previous tally of £11.69 – which at the time made them 2009’s highest grossing regional sales room. The figures say a lot about the recent impact of Chinese collectors on the market. The figures for 2007 and 2008 were a modest £8.15m and £6.7m. But this was before Chinese collectors were prepared to pay £4m for four jade carvings, so they could be shipped back to the home of their ancestors. Woolley & Wallis held two sales of Asian art in 2010, which grossed almost £16m – most of it from collectors on the Chinese mainland.
Other departments did equally well, with furniture sales grossing over £1m. As in Lancashire, antique desks have risen in popularity, in particular large pedestal and partner desks. In Woolley’s January 2011 furniture sale, this style predominated among the antique desks. Lancashire’s famous cabinetmaking firm, Gillows, was featured, with a twin pedestal desk attributed to Gillows and estimated at £4000 selling for £6,600. Sold with the original Bill of Sale, dated 1795, it was made by Henry Walker, a craftsman from Lancashire. Many antique desks made for Gillows prior to 1805 were crafted by Walker.
From antique desks to Victorian dining chairs, Lancashire antique dealers always have plenty of quality items in stock.
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