AUCTIONS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Will contemporary ceramics prices continue their sensational rise at Bonhams, Wednesday and Thursday (6pm daily)? Last November's sale at Bonhams went through the roof, raising £350,922 instead of the expected £200,000. A uranium yellow porcelain pot by Lucie Rie, our greatest living potter, estimated £2,800-£4,000, fetched £10,925. Collectors and dealers wait to see whether the high prices are here to stay.

Meanwhile, Dame Lucie, aged 93, is kept alive by a heart pacemaker. Her condition is deteriorating daily.

The November sale coincided with the opening at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art of a joint exhibition of the work of Rie and Hans Coper, another wartime refugee who potted alongside her. The exhibition, which lasts until June, has evidently convinced American buyers that potting is a fine art, not a craft, and should command comparable prices.

This week's sale offers some of Rie's key works. But Cyril Frankel, director of Bonhams contemporary ceramics department and chief promoter of her work, has resisted the temptation to jack up estimates. A stoneware collared pot with ivory glaze and one manganese run, a highlight of the Crafts Council's exhibition commemorating her 90th birthday, is est £4,500- £6,000.

Mastering old drawings

All you need is time. Old Master drawings, four centuries or so old, await patient scholar-collectors prepared to sharpen their eye in galleries and pore over textbooks in order to make new attributions.

Auctioneers make up for shortage of time by picking the brains of experts. For example, black chalk-and-wash sketches attributed to Pier Francesco Mola (d.1666) in Phillips minor sale, Wednesday (11am), est £1,500-£2,000, were thought by their vendor to be the work of Pierre Tremollire (d.1739). But for an expert's eye, that recognised Mola's hand by the characteristic cross-hatching, they would have been "Italian school" at a mere £400- £500.

Where auctioneers draw a blank, they sometimes publish a catalogue illustration in the hope that a collector will recognise an artist's hand. Look closely at the ink and wash over red chalk Coronation of the Virgin, catalogued as "Flemish school, 17th century". If you can identify the artist you could turn the £400-£600 est into a bargain. Other Old Master sales: drawings on Monday at Sotheby's (10am) and Christie's (2.30pm). Paintings: Phillips Bayswater, Tuesday (12 noon), Sotheby's, Wednesday (10am), Phillips, Thursday (11am).

Countrywide

Swindon: Sports books and memorabilia, rackets and bats, autographs, cigarette cards, Wednesday (12 noon). Dominic Winter, The Old School, Maxwell Street (01793 611340).

Banbury: Textiles, including Twenties to Fifties clothing, a Japanese silk, Victorian and Edwardian pieces, samplers, linens and lace, Tuesday (10.30am), followed (4pm) by wine bin-ends. Holloway's, 49 Parsons Street (01295 253197).

Oxford: More books - especially philosophy, psychology, typography, Friday (11am). Mallams, St Michael's Street (01865 241358).

Havant: Fishing tackle, Tuesday (5.30pm). Medlams, 25c Brockhampton Lane (01705 498098).

Aylsham: Wine, gardening tools, catering equipment, bridal wear, fridge- freezers,Wednesday (10.30am). Aylsham Saleroom. G A Key (01263 733195).

FAIRS

British International Antiques: NEC, Birmingham, Tuesday-Sunday (021 767 2760).

Petworth Antiques, Seaford College, Petworth, next Friday-Saturday (Bailey; 01277 362662).

South Cotswolds Antiques: Westonbirt School, Tetbury, Friday-Sunday (Cooper; 01249 661111).

Countrywide: Antiques Trade Gazette (0171-930 4957), Government Auction News (0171-928 9001, hotline 0891 887700).

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