If you’re good enough, you’re old enough, so the old adage goes.
One of the youngest, if the not the youngest, auctioneers in England – Ridley Partridge – has grown up in the auction world and already has a good deal of experience striding up the rostrum.
The son of Adam Partridge, he turned 17 in March and is now ‘officially’ working at the eponymous saleroom at the same time as studying a business course at a local college.
We say ‘officially’ only because he has been in and around the auction house already for a large part of his life, helping out with internet bidding and even having a go at selling the odd lot from around the age of 13.
Now conducting auction sessions on a regular basis and spending two to three hours a time on the rostrum, here we speak to Ridley about his time so far as a young gavel master.
ATG: What is your favourite part about working as an auctioneer?
Ridley Partridge: It must be the show and the theatre of it, being the centre of attention, but I also really enjoy learning the trade and seeing how much things sell for, which helps me to value items when I’m out on jobs.
What’s the most difficult aspect about taking an auction?
To begin with the most difficult part was the commission bids and reserves, but once I had got my head around them I realised how to be on the right foot with commission bids and understand that I have 10% discretion on reserves.
What new skills have you learnt so far through conducting sales?
I’ve developed a much better knowledge of what items are worth, especially the kind of things we see everyday. I have also learned that a faster style of auctioneering can often stimulate more bids, keeping the attention of bidders in the room.
Do you find yourself getter better with practice?
It has become much easier with practice and my style of selling has become much smoother as I have begun to memorise the increments and intervals that I should move up in.
Has your dad given you a few tips?
I have grown up watching my dad sell from a very young age, so that’s always just been a normal thing. But I have very much adopted his style of auctioneering, even from when I used to sit on his knee as a child and bang the gavel.
However, when I had my first go at selling he explained to me how to deal with all the different things to sell the item for the right price and to keep the client and the vendor happy.
What do your friends say about you being an auctioneer?
They don’t say much about me auctioneering, mainly as they don’t really understand what it is, but when they see me auctioneering on the online platforms they always seem to be quite impressed.
What’s your longest stint on the rostrum so far?
Around two hours – a single session without a break where I sold around 160-170 lots. It certainly gets easier every time to do long stints as I feel I’m developing more stamina and experience in what I am doing, and can also now sell lots at a quicker rate.
What’s your favourite area of the art and antiques market?
My favourite part of the art and antiques world has always been furniture, as normally I am out on the van collecting furniture for our sales. However, I have also recently got more interested in silver and jewellery.
What’s your favourite/most expensive lot sold so far?
The most expensive lot I have sold so far I would say was a William IV carved mahogany breakfront cupboard with moulded corners and three panelled doors. This lot was in the sale with an estimate of £300- 500, but in the end, I knocked down the gavel at £1750 so I was pleased with that.