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Thornhill stem cup

Fellows’ place at the top table of regional auctioneers has been achieved without obvious ‘windfall’ lots (their best-seller was a diamond solitaire at £101,000).

In contrast, Lyon & Turnbull rubber-stamped its place among the regional elite with the aid of a single object – Staffordshi re University’s Thornhill stem cup – sold at a bespoke sale in Hong Kong in May for £3.15m.

The Edinburgh saleroom also sold the Robertson and Wood collections of Scottish Colourists, both unseen on the market in a generation.

Together these totalled £1.6m, topped by a Cadell stilllife at £360,000 – the leading regional picture price of 2016.

These sales meant L&T hammered £13.5m across the year, a significant improvement upon the 2015’s equivalent figure of £9.3m.

Managing director Gavin Strang told ATG the figures “demonstrate strong results in the areas we had chosen to focus on. Competition remains tough for the best things, but where we win them we get strong prices”.

He added that the saleroom will explore new sale venues in 2017 (the firm held its first sale in Glasgow in December) and plans are in place to increase L&T’s presence in the south of England where it continues to find business.

Solid in Leyburn

Hammer sales at Tennants in Leyburn reached £12m. This was down around £500,000 on the previous year but counts among the firm’s highest aggregates and one achieved without a single ‘game-changing’ entry to transform the bottom line.

The highwater mark in Leyburn of £14.1m in 2012 was achieved with the aid of a £2.6m Yongzheng bottle vase.

In 2016 the top lot was a portfolio of botanical watercolours sold for £170,000.

Managing director Jeremy Pattison told ATG the majority of departments performed in line with the previous year, with the exception of the jewellery department that totalled £1 .7m, an increase of £800,000.

Pictures generated £1.7m and furniture £1.4m with the newly-formed motor vehicle and automobilia department contributing a welcome £500,000 to turnover. With fortnightly antique and interior sales and regular specialist auctions (across 24 departments), the firm has over 85 auctions scheduled for 2017.

The first Leyburn sale of 2017 provided a good omen for the year ahead. The January 6-7 ‘country house’ event posted £463,000 – a record for a sale of this type.

January to December hammer sales at the Stansted Mountfitchet firm Sworders in 2016 were £7m, much the same as 2015, while sales at Ewbank’s in Surrey topped £4m for the first time in the firm’s 26-year history.

Following a turbulent year, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, regular contributors to this annual survey, declined to give trading figures for 2016.