AUCTIONS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
All eyes on London this week. The Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair, the Ascot of the art market, opens on Thursday (until 22 June) and the auction houses will be dusting off their star lots to lure the rich private buyers. The Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair, which opened last week, continues until Sunday of next week. Dealers without stands at the big fairs will be skulking in the backrooms of their London galleries, praying for high-rolling Americans or Japanese to ring the bell.

A "good fair" is expected at Grosvenor House, following the vicissitudes of the recession, A bad fair - such as 1991, after which one in five exhibitors jumped ship - can put a damper on the entire trading year. This year, some of the defectors of 1991 are limping back. Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London Wl, 0171-499 6363

This week, few dealers will be tempted to quit London for Exmouth, Devon, to view the auctioneer Martin Spencer-Thomas's collection of photographs and manuscripts from the family of Mrs Beeton (of cookbook fame) and handwritten logs and photographs from Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910- 13. The catalogue descriptions for the sale, Monday (10.30am), are opaque one-liners lacking pre-sale estimates and Mr Spencer-Thomas is dismissive, saying that the Beeton lots are her children and grandchildren's and that the Antarctic documents are from the expedition's survivors, not the advance party that perished. But one of the 20 Beeton lots, "4 old photograph albums relating to the Beeton family" does, he says, contain photographs of the famous household manager, and the 30 or so Antarctic lots do contain a letter signed by Scott. Spencer-Thomas 01395-267403.

If you are shocked by those who sell scraps of pop stars' clothing in showbiz memorabilia auctions, peep into Christie's Glasgow sale, The Jacobites and Their Adversaries, Wednesday (2.30pm) and you will find that Bonnie Prince Charlie's followers gave him the same treatment back in 1745. Now, on the 250th anniversary of the defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden, canny Scots have ransacked cupboards for any bric-a-brac that can be said to have come within spitting distance of the Prince.

A three-legged wooden stool with brass plate alleging the Prince sat on it is est pounds 300-pounds 500. A tiny fragment of fabric bearing a label marked "portion of tartan trews worn by Charles Edward Stuart from the time of his landing in Scotland in 1745 till after the Battle of Culloden..." is estimated pounds 80-pounds 120. The star turn is the Prince's death mask: pounds 5,000- pounds 8,000.

In the same book and manuscript sale as the rediscovered leaf of George Washington's unpublished inaugural address - est pounds 150,000 at Phillips, Thursday (llam) - are two letters by the late Kingsley Amis, signed with a hammer and sickle around his name, imploring a fellow Oxford undergraduate to rejoin the Communist party, est pounds 200-pounds 300. The sale also offers books owned by Leonard Smithers, wily publisher of Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde - including a rare copy of Beardsley's Lysisistra, which earned Smithers a quick penny after he disobeyed Beardsley's death-bed plea to destroy all copies (pounds 3,000-pounds 4,000).

John Windsor

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