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As well a 63-lot opener of carpets and tapestries, the sale was equally divided between furniture and objects. The former included anything from Georgian brown to elaborate gilt-bronze mounted boullework and black forest bear seating, the latter ranged from brass chandeliers and bronze and marble statuary to chess sets.

The following week on February 17 Sotheby’s Olympia (20/12% buyer’s premium) held one of their combined furniture and interior decorator sales. This selection of some 39l lots covered very similar ground, but with the added twist of a few small single-owner properties that have become a trademark of the interior decorator element of these events.

CSK not only offered more lots, they also got more away – 76 per cent – netting them just shy of £1m. Sotheby’s smaller offering had a higher proportion of five-figure prices but found things harder going for the carpets, tapestries and Continental material, with the result that they saw around two thirds of their lots change hands, giving them a total of just over £700,000.

Even though the take-up was different, what was noticeable at both events was the strong performance of the English material. The first sales of the new year generally tend to do well, with trade and private buyers keen to buy after the Christmas lull, spurred on by the dearth of current saleroom activity and the need to stock up. But there is also a sense that prices for mid-range Georgian and Regency brown furniture, anecdotally so difficult to shift in recent months, have bottomed out. There is a perception that things cannot get any cheaper and, as a consequence, that people are starting to buy again.

Sotheby’s had divided their sale into separate English and Continental sections, which gives the opportunity to compare their relative performances. While the Continental material recorded a 60 per cent take-up by lot, just below the overall average for the sale, the selling rate for the English material was up to 76 per cent. Over at CSK, specialist Nic McElhatton reckons prices were up 20 per cent even on last December.

“I have people in the room again and it is much nicer on the rostrum,” he said last week.

Moreover, both rooms featured some Georgian and Regency classics that met with an appreciative response and, as a result, went for prices that were well in excess of their modest estimates. Christie’s, for example, had a Regency polygonal centre table 2ft 41/2in (87cm) in diameter set on a nicely carved tripod base with a hinged satinwood top banded with rosewood. The type of piece that would have been much sought out in the 1990s, here it appeared with a suitably modest £5000-7000 and ended up being pursued to £16,000.

A similar observation could be made at Sotheby’s about a pair of Regency rosewood, simulated rosewood and brass-inlaid side cabinet with black marble tops of pleasingly small size at 3ft 1in (95cm) wide. These came with a here-to-be-sold estimate of £2000-3000 and ended up going to the trade for £13,000, an impressive price but arguably less than they might have made a decade ago. A few lots earlier, there was also plenty of demand for a much larger Georgian entry, a 12ft 2in (3.7m) wide mahogany breakfront bookcase which more than doubled its £8000-10,000 estimate, selling for £24,000 to a private buyer.

Sotheby’s specialist Jeremy Smith put the weaker performance of the Continental side of the sale (much of which was of 19th century date) down to the lack of American and Continental interest, a combination of the weak dollar and the strength of sterling. That said, there was still the odd Continental entry that improved on expectations, particularly more unusual decorative entries like the mid-1880s carved dragon-form daybed by Gabriel Viardot, pictured and discussed in Gazette No 1625, February 7, that doubled estimate at £19,000 or the monumental and highly decorative 6ft 3in (1.93m) high 1870s patinated bronze candlesticks in Renaissance revival taste that fetched £22,000.

If Sotheby’s struggled with their carpets, Christie’s had rather more success with theirs (although Nic McElhatton conceded the going had been tough up to this sale). This time around they provided the day’s top price of £38,000 for an antique Ziegler of rust field, somewhat reduced in length but still of substantial size at 21ft 2in x 16ft 7in (6.4 x 5m).

The objects contingent at Christie’s that was interwoven between the Georgian mahogany standards and the Continental marquetry case furniture included a 17-lot lighting section that gave a respectable performance with all bar four lots changing hands. A c.1900 North European brass 12-light chandelier of typical form topped the list at a treble-estimate £13,000.

The sale also featured a 23-lot section of cold painted bronzes, mostly of Viennese origin and early 20th century date, featuring Middle Eastern subjects. The auctioneers got away 15 of these, which they reckoned was a fair tally given that they had fairly punchy estimates for a field that is not as fashionable as it was a few years ago.

One entry with plenty of decorative appeal was a group of small carved Roman marble fragments that had been reconstructed to form five panels, measuring 14in x 3ft 6in (35cm x 1.06m) or 14in x 4ft 2in (35cm x 1.27m). These fetched £10,500.