Your front-page report in ATG No 2417 of a Chinese vase bought for a pound from a charity shop then selling for a staggering £380,000 hammer price at Sworders, was just such a story. Other similar reports are broadcast in the press and on such programmes as the BBC Antiques Roadshow.
Well done to the buyer who spots these items and reaps the reward, but what of the charity shops involved? I do not recall any of the buyers or reports mentioning sharing the realisation with the charity shops, although this may have happened and gone unrecorded.
Having been a volunteer for the Woking & Sam Beare Hospice for many years, I have some knowledge of the extreme difficulty of raising funds, with very little government support.
This hospice has a number of high street shops selling goods, freely given by supporters to benefit the hospice and channelled through a central warehouse. Our local auction house Ewbank’s works with the hospice warehouse to spot items worth offering through their auctions and the total proceeds from the sale of the lots goes to the hospice, with no vendor commission charged. An admirable arrangement.
Can I make a plea for other auction houses to make similar arrangements with their local charity shops? Where practical, vet the donated items and offer them for sale where the market will determine a fair price. This would benefit the charities enormously and perhaps raise the profile of the auction house.
Finally, if any lucky buyers find themselves in a similar position, perhaps they would spare a share for the charity involved.