Prime minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus in the House of Commons on November 3 but further information on the detail of business closures is due by November 5. Image: HM Government.

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Auction houses

Most regional auction houses in England, for example, intend to close to members of the public and operate behind closed doors, holding live online only auctions or timed online sales. Many took to Twitter to promote auctions taking place after lockdown begins including Bellmans, Mallams, Sworders, Dreweatts, Roseberys, Fellows.

The currently brief government announcement states that non-essential retail (which based on past interpretations, includes dealers, galleries, centres and auction houses) “can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect”. This enables art and antiques firms to offer items for sale online and fulfil those orders with staff on premises.

A few auction houses have postponed sales. These include:

Lawrences of Crewkerne has moved its two-day automobilia sale scheduled for November 17-18 to December 15-16.

Stroud Auctions has postponed the second day of its two-day sale originally scheduled for November 4-5. The first day portion of lots will continue as usual on November 4 with premises open until 8pm for collections and delivery while the sale of lot numbers 1000-2038 is postponed until further notice.

Woolley & Wallis has decided to postpone all of its sales until December but will be holding a timed auction. Its Fine Chinese Paintings and Works of Art, Japanese Works of Art sale will now be held of December 7 and 8; The Fine Jewellery sale will take place on December 9 and 10; the English and European Ceramics and Glass sale will be on December 15.

Its Christmas gifts timed online sale runs from November 19 to December 4 with about 150 lots of jewellery, silver, ceramics and small collectables.


New National Restrictions will be in place in England from November 5.


Dealers are also announcing their plans. Many enhanced their online presence during the previous lockdown and so should be geared up to trade online, notwithstanding the fact that having to close their premises to the public once again will make life difficult for many of them, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

On its website, Jonkers Rare Books in Henley stated its will be temporarily closing from November 5 “but we will still be offering a wide range of services for book lovers in what is traditionally the busiest month of the year for book buying. Private appointments, click and collect, video consultation, home delivery and a full online shopping experience are all available.”

On Instagram London dealership Bryars & Bryars posted: “Here we go again, folks. We'll be spending the next few days making sure we can continue to catalogue and get stuff up for sale online; and also figuring out COVID-secure click'n'collect.

“We already offer a collection option on our website, so really it's just deciding between handing over packages in a sane and sanitary manner or constructing a trebuchet (and updating our T&Cs so that we accept no responsibility for material damage either to the merch or to customers who fail to catch). We'll almost certainly be processing orders in batches and having specific collection windows, subject to the travel arrangements we can make. ⁠We are bound and determined to see you on the other side of this.”

Asian Art in London, which was scheduled to be running until November 7, announced that the in-person exhibitions would be closing on the evening of Wednesday November 4 with a new Virtual Viewing Gallery launching for East Asian art participants on the same day for the remainder of the festival. All the auctions that are part of the event are going ahead, with those taking place after lockdown happening as live online only.

Fairs and markets

Fairs and markets (that do not sell food) were not mentioned specifically in the government guidance published thus far for the second lockdown but a number of cancellations of events have already been announced such as the Detling Antiques, Vintage & Collectors Market which was due to take place on November 7-8.

Jay Fairs, which would have held its Antiques & Collectors Fair in Benson, Oxfordshire on November 15, has announced the event is cancelled along with its fair on December 20. It has resolutely posted all its intended dates for 2021.