January 19th saw the official opening of ELR Auctions prestigious new purpose built auction saleroom and launch of the newly re-branded company, Sheffield Auction Gallery.

On the official opening night, after the first full days viewing for the inaugural Antique and Fine Art auction on 21st, Chairman, John Dashper, introduced the auction room staff and explained that 2011 would see further expansion of auctions and valuation services, the Sheffield Assay Master, Ashley Carson welcomed the company to their new home after a hectic few weeks and officially opened the new Saleroom.

Director Elizabeth Dashper with Sheffield Assay Master, Ashley Carson and Chairman John Dashper

Director Elizabeth Dashper with Sheffield Assay Master, Ashley Carson and Chairman John Dashper

The new high tech saleroom incorporates many new features which were not possible at the previous site, particularly in the Live internet auctions, with the addition in the saleroom and reception area of large TV screens during the auctions, showing the current Lot, sales are broadcast in real time on the internet with audio and visual footage of the sale so purchasers can bid without being present in the auction room.

A state of the art CCTV system provides enhanced security during viewing and sale days for added protection.

The first auction saw huge pre-sale interest a large number of the Lots on offer, with two consignments of particular note.

Firstly, on behalf of Museums Sheffield, was a large collection of 100 Lots of paintings and limited edition prints, by artists such as Edward Bawden, Albert Goodwin, Mary Potter and Winifred Wilson. These works were formerly part of the picture loan schemes which operated prior to 1998. They were bought specifically for the schemes and were not part of the City’s permanent collections. They generated many enquiries and a number of specialist buyers commented that hammer prices on the day for many of the works realised London retail prices. Proceeds from the sale of these works will directly benefit Sheffield’s impressive visual arts collection.

The second notable collection was offered on behalf of South Yorkshire Police, sold under the Proceeds of Crime Act, were 130 Lots of antiques which had been amassed by a man from the profits from drug crimes. There is no suggestion that any of the items that were auctioned were stolen it was merely how the man chose to spend the profits from a lifetime of criminality. Some of the money raised will be used to benefit local people and causes through the South Yorkshire Community Foundation.

Head of South Yorkshire Police's Economic Crime Unit, Graham Wragg

Head of South Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, Graham Wragg

Works included ivories, silver, paintings and a particularly fine early twentieth Century small secretaire bookcase by Druce & Co, London. The announcement of this collection in the auction prompted great press interest and on the morning of the auction TV crews from the BBC, ITV and Sky News arrived to film interviews with the auction gallery’s Director, Elizabeth Dashper and head of South Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, Graham Wragg. Radio Sheffield, The Star and many other reporters also recorded pieces on the day.

This all made for an extremely busy Sale morning!

The auction room was packed with bidders as the auction got underway, with auctioneer Robert Lea prepared for a very long day. It didn’t take long for some record prices to be achieved. The Police ivories came up in the first half and hour and the three Chinese carved figures of Shou, Guanyin and Wang Zhaojun, quickly sold to internet bidders for a total hammer of £7,800.

It was certainly the start of things to come as all sections saw intense bidding from the room, the internet and telephone bidders.

Other notable prices included three eighteenth Century blue and white plates at £3,100; a nineteenth Century Copeland charger at £1,300; a silver cow creamer at £780; two Breguet 18 carat gold gents watches for £6,100; an artists proof linocut of The Palace of Westminster by Edward Bawden for £2,200; a watercolour by Charles Dixon, RI (1872-1934) for £2,200; a Winter landscape oil on canvas by Mary Potter (1900-1981) for £2,200; a Russian vase for Tiffany & Co. at £1,300; a lovely late nineteenth Century French blue enamel, gilt and gem set striking lyre clock garniture by Causard, Paris (which featured on the front cover of the auction catalogue) which sold for a hammer price of £3,600 and finally the secretaire bookcase by Druce & Co, London, from the police items, which made £3,600.

After all the excitement of the opening week it’s back to business as usual for the auction gallery staff who are available during the week for pre-auction valuations and advice (and, of course, autographs!)