Halls says that demand by private and trade buyers for larger auctions with a broader range of quality items on offer has persuaded it to hold six major seasonal sales during 2017.
The move comes as auctioneers across the country shake up their ever-evolving sales calendars to try to anticipate and respond to buyer trends.
While the ‘interiors’ route has become a well-travelled one, it also seemed every sale was heading to ‘specialist’ and ‘niche’ in the regional auctions world. But Halls says it is “following the national trend” in antiques auctioneering “by combining smaller specialist auctions into larger events while continuing to hold fortnightly interiors auctions, which will feature mid-market items”.
So, small may be beautiful but big is bountiful as the multi-discipline sales format combines those specialist offerings. Especially when it comes to the big-hitter items.
The result at Halls has been sales branded as ‘country house’, launched last year, a title which Lamond says “reflects the mix of lots and seems to best describe the style on offer”.
Halls is expanding this format, as it proved popular with buyers. The firm’s interiors sales will evolve to include “good-quality, mid-range items with every lot available to view and bid for on the internet”.
Higher-value toys, collectables, books, medals, militaria and tribal art will be included in Halls’ country house auctions on April 26, July 19 and November 22. Fine pictures, silver and jewellery auctions will be held on March 22, June 21 and October 18.
Meanwhile, ‘interiors’ also has a firm place in Halls’ schedule.
Mid-market lots in each of the collector areas will be sold in Halls’ “enhanced interiors auctions”, which began on January 4.
“We are concentrating the high-value collective lots into our seasonal fine sales to give them the best promotion to the widest possible audience,” says Lamond.
“Our country house auctions will become larger events covering a greater number of antiques and collectors’ areas to enable buyers to view the full spectrum of high-quality items available in one sale.
“This has become the trend across the country as the antiques auctioneering industry responds to market preferences.”
The logic behind this, Lamond explains, is that buyers prefer to see a larger range of high-quality items in one sale across multi-disciplines rather than lots of individual smaller sales. Trade buyers particularly, who are travelling long distances, like to come to a larger auction.
Most of the London auction houses follow this format, he points out, “and we are responding to what our purchasers have asked for. We will be looking to include between 800 and 1000 lots in the larger auctions, which may extend over two days”.
While the total number of Halls sales has dropped, Lamond explains that “some of them were ‘bolt-ons’ to fortnightly interiors auctions. Where the interiors start at 10am, the ‘bolt-ons’ started at 2.30pm. Now these extra sales (militaria/toys/ books) will be folded into the larger two-day events with bigger catalogues and more online registrants”.
And as a noted champion of the much-maligned ‘brown furniture’ category, Lamond was pleased to point out the interiors branding does actually work, with “an increase in private buyers buying furniture” in those auctions.