Remembering an early house valuation in Sidbury

An auction hammer coming down on the word auction written on wooden blocks

An auction hammer - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Exmouth Auctioneer, Piers Motley-Nash, writes for the Journal

Piers Motley-Nash

Piers Motley-Nash - Credit: Piers Motley-Nash

I remember one of my first ever valuations, when I started out as an auctioneer and valuer, was to value the contents of a house in Sidbury which had been sold.  

I had been instructed by solicitors in Sidmouth to provide an approximate total value for what was in a quirky little 17th/18th century cottage in the middle of the village. The new buyer's had made an offer for the entire contents.

It was typical of the sort of house calls I used to make back then: with the contents reflecting the lives of a number of generations, with items having been passed down.

The furniture was Georgian or earlier provincial oak, the walls filled with old prints and paintings, the bureau with old pens, silver pocket watch and magic lantern slides.

There were display cabinets with antique china, the odd Chinese piece and a sampler worked by the hand of a nine year old in 1741. Chests of drawers were filled with lace, old photographs, 18th century Bilston enamel patch pots and much more.

I spent an hour or so looking around and phoned the solicitors with a verbal valuation of saleable items being in the region of £2800.

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Twenty years ago this was fairly significant and even today many a house clearance has less in it.

We were instructed to clear and the contents were brought in for sale.

Sales were very different back then with online presence being a very simple listing of items with no pictures. In an 800 lot sale maybe five items would be bought by people who discovered the lot online, the remainder all bought by regional and local dealers.

Today more than 90% is sold online!

The contents went on to make just over £3000 except for one item lurking at the back of a chest of drawers which I had not seen during my initial valuation _ a corkscrew.
As mentioned the internet was very basic back then and not used as a research tool, so when the corkscrew was lotted in it was expected to make £80-140.

Described as 'A Chrome Twin Lever Action Corkscrew Patent No. 234'. It was one of two or three lots that sale which attracted interest via the Internet. We later discovered it was by Murray & Stalker. Amazingly it sold for £2800, the same as my initial valuation for the entire contents.

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