I posted about Lyon & Turnbull’s auctions of Mary Stewart’s jewellery, books and Asian artworks in Mary Stewart auction on 15 September. Afterwards, I spotted that some of her jewellery had also gone to auction at Fellows & Sons – Jewellery and Watch Auctioneers, so I popped a little update on to the post. This has led to Nicola at Fellows getting in touch, and she is very kindly sharing information and images with us: thank you, Nicola! And I can’t go any further in this post until I say how satisfying I find it that the name of our Fellows correspondent is Nicola, which is of course the name of the heroine in The Moon-Spinners, the book that inspired Mary Stewart to design the above brooch. Also satisfying is the fact that Nicola’s sister is a big Mary Stewart fan: I think there are rather a lot of us!
Fellows sold the Cartier Moon-Spinners brooch pictured above for £17,500 (hammer price). Now, I’m not very clear on how auctions work, presumably sellers and perhaps buyers have to pay the auctioneer something, whether a percentage or a flat fee, for the auctioneer doing the selling – perhaps Nicola might like to explain exactly what ‘hammer price’ is and how it differs from the total price paid by a buyer or price obtained by a seller? [wonders which is the emoticon for ‘pleading smile’]
Nicola has sent a gorgeously glamorous video – yes, video! – of the Moon-Spinners brooch, which shows just how the brooch catches the light. Prepare to ooh and aah:
Isn’t that simply stunning? And it makes me think of Charity, heroine of Madam, Will You Talk?: remember when she sees Loraine for the first time and observes: ‘Being a woman myself, I naturally saw the enormous sapphire on her left hand almost before I saw her.’ I reckon Charity would have loved this brooch that her creator designed! Although the piece was designed around 1970, and they specialised in old silver, I imagine all the antiques dealers in Madam, Will You Talk? coveting it too…
The other piece of jewellery that Fellows sold was a ruby ring from Mary Stewart’s estate, retailed by Cartier, for £3,000. Again courtesy of Nicola, we can look at pictures of this ring. I’m not really a brooch-wearer but I can picture this ring on my finger; I can’t however picture having that much spare cash – but that’s not a problem as it is no longer for sale. The woman who now owns the ring is, hopefully, aware and appreciative of its provenance.
What is your favourite piece of Mary Stewart jewellery? Is it on either of my auction posts, or have you spotted it in a photo of the writer? Please share any quotes from her books that are about jewellery too.
You’re too kind Allison!
You’re right the hammer price is what it sells for in the room then there is a charge on top. On the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price (of any individual lot) the buyer will pay the hammer price and a premium of 20% (plus VAT) or 24% (inclusive of VAT).
The seller does pay fees as well, much like using an estate agent to sell your house or eBay for unwanted trinkets. For those fees we research, catalogue and promote the items to our buyers. Some of the ways we do this is by producing the video above.
Jewellery at auction is a lot cheaper than buying items brand new from a shop. It can be between a third and half off what you’d be looking to pay. We don’t just sell antique pieces, we sell modern designer pieces in the same auctions.
If you’re ever interested in seeing an auction in person, let me know! I’ve been told it’s an exciting place to be.
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Thanks, Nikky, that is really interesting. I’ve never been to an auction in my life and I’d be a bit afraid of spending more than I’d planned to but it certainly sounds as though it might be great fun – when I’m down your way I’ll be very tempted to pop in to say hello (and I should probably get saving now in case you get any more Mary Stewart pieces!)
I am Nicola’s Mary-loving sister 🙂 I also work for the auction house, it is our family business.
You are quite right in your assumption about how an auction works. Both the vendor and buyer pay a fee to the auction house which is a percentage of the hammer price.
A buyer pays the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium of 20% (plus VAT) or 24% (inclusive of VAT).
A vendor will receive the hammer amount minus fees. At Fellows it is 15% (plus VAT) and a marketing fee of £10 (plus VAT). There is also a loss/liability charge of 1.5% (plus VAT).
It all sounds very dry and boring when you lay out the facts and figures but buying and selling at auction is very exciting. I would recommend coming to see us if you are ever in London / Birmingham (UK). We always have beautiful things for people to see and specialists to chat to.
Any questions, please let me know I am always happy to help! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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It is lovely to hear from you. You and your sister are obviously auction experts, and it’s kind of you both to share your knowledge here. You and Nicola have convinced me I would enjoy going to an auction, and I’m sure a Fellows auction is the best auction to attend!
I am delighted to hear that you are a fellow Mary Stewart fan, and I have an important question for you: what is your favourite Mary Stewart book?
Have you read her recently or not for years? Any thoughts you want to share? If so, please do get in touch again.