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Having trailed Tennants of Leyburn for the last two years, Berkshire auctioneers Dreweatt Neate claimed the largest takings of all independent firms in the UK last year with £7m from their Banbury and Donnington Priory salerooms, up by nine per cent on the figures for 1998.

Tennants recorded a small increase in their 1999 turnover, up to £6.73m from £6.66m the previous year. The auctioneers' three annual fine art sales generated a greater proportion of this revenue than in 1998, although the weekly uncatalogued general sales still accounted for 57 per cent of turnover.

Last year Gorringe's added the Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells to their existing network of saleroom venues in Lewes and Bexhill and, of the auctioneers surveyed by the Antiques Trade Gazette, they recorded the largest increase in turnover from the previous year, up by 18 per cent to £5.9m.

Shropshire firm Halls announced a slight fall in revenue from £2.6m in 1998 – a prosperous year for the auctioneers which included the sale of a Pugin hall table for £180,000 – to £2.53m for 1999.

Hy. Duke & Son have not yet released their figures, but it would be a considerable achievement if the Dorset auctioneers managed to improve on the 40 per cent rise which took their turnover revenue to £3.5m in 1998. Louis Taylor improved slightly on last year's £1.4m turnover by £20,000.