MADAM – When reading ATG’s auction report of Cheffins’ Eila Grahame sale (ATG No 2273), it struck us as ironic that while on page 6, you report that the Advertising Standards Authority guidance for auctioneers is to be clearer on fees, the Gazette reporting seems to ignore the real cost of items bought at auction.
The silver-mounted 1688 tortoiseshell comb and case did not cost the purchaser £8,000 but rather £10,448. We know this, because it was not bought by “an American collector” as you report, but rather by two English dealers. We are delighted with our purchase.
In a similar vein, your report that a comb case similarly attributable to the emigre maker Paul Bennett sold at Bonhams New York in February 2015 for $33,000 (or £21,000) is erroneous. The purchaser actually paid $41,000 (£33,000).
These are rare items indeed, with barely a handful of silver mounted examples known to survive, notably those in the British Museum and the MFA Boston.
RN Myers & Son
Matthew Holder Works of Art
Editor replies: As the Gazette’s primary mission is to report on the market for art and antiques, we believe the hammer price is the single, best indication of the market value of an object – what the buyer will pay and an indication of what the vendor might receive. This is our long-held view, dating back to when buyer’s premium was introduced in 1975.
That said, when we report on auctions, we are clear on the premium rates charged by auctioneers, to allow the reader to make the calculation.