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HUMBLE Japanese Satsuma ware, on sale at South Kensington, Tuesday (10.30am) will be important for Christie's, eager to catch up with Sotheby's in South-east Asia. Last year, Christie's first two sales dedicated to the garish, gold-encrusted export ware sold an impressive 91 and 95 per cent: 15 years ago, hardly anybody wanted it. Now the Japanese trade is buying and so are collectors in America and Europe. This week's biggest-ever 140-lot sale has a 30-inch standing female estimated at pounds 20,000- pounds 30,000. Most estimates are in low hundreds.


Recent big sales of 19th-century European pictures at Sotheby's and Christie's have absorbed the sugary taste of the record-price Tissots that have promised to lead the art market out of recession. Sotheby's sale, Wednesday (10.30am) has belle epoque damsels with the occasional Tissot-esque old man lurking in the background. L'Ete, by the Belgian Alfred Stevens (d1906), est pounds 150,000- pounds 200,000, is typical of the genre and of top estimates in this optimistic, big-money sale.

Arabic and Oriental pictures are piled high in the same sale, awaiting wealthy Saudis and Kuwaitis who displayed their spending power at sales of European pictures in New York in May and London in March. Italian lire and Spanish pesetas are reckoned to be more plentiful, too, judging by the Latin flavour of some of the lots.

A ghost of recessions past (with luck) is the Swedish playwright and chemist August Strindberg's Fyrtornet II, a lighthouse looming above a muddy thicket, accessible only to the psychologically informed who have an estimated pounds 300,000- pounds 400,000 to spend. One of several boom-and-bust Strindbergs, it fetched pounds 1.5m in 1988.

Christie's Friday (10.30am) has a Gaertner view of Berlin, est pounds 300,000- pounds 500,000. Other continental pictures: Phillips, Tuesday (11am): Christie's South Kensington, watercolours, drawings, Wednesday (10.30am), paintings Thursday (10.30am): Bonhams, Thursday (11am).


Canterbury: Six 17th- to 19th-century Russian icons are est pounds 150- pounds 600 each among other antiques, Tuesday (10.30am). Canterbury Auction Galleries (0227 763337).

Reading: Machinery, motor vehicles, lawn mowers and other garden equipment, workshop and DIY tools, next Saturday (10am). Thimbleby and Shoreland (0734 508611).

Glasgow: Fishing tackle, rugs, artworks, furniture, Wednesday (11am) and paintings Thursday (2pm). Christie's (041 332 8134).

Also ceramics, jewellery, silver, artworks, Thursday (11am) including a Clarice Cliff crocus vase est pounds 600- pounds 800. William Hardie (041 221 6780).

Hawkhurst: Police and courts property, Victoriana, Monday (1pm). Auction Centres House (0580 754545).

Bletchingley: Three days from Monday (2pm) of antique and reproduction furniture, postcards, canes, ivory figures, other collectables, ceramics, pictures. Lawrences (0883 743323).


Tomorrow: Ephemera Society Special, Hotel Russell, London WC1 (10am-5pm), entry pounds 2 (081-450 9998).

Friday-Monday: Book Fair, Hotel Russell, as above (2-7pm), entry pounds 2. Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association (0763 248400).

Friday-Sunday: Antiques, Thoresby Park Exhibition Centre, near Ollerton (Whittington Exhibitions, 081- 644 9327). Giant Antique, Bingley Hall, County Showground, Stafford (Bowman Fairs, 0532 843333).

Countrywide: Antiques Trade Gazette (071- 930 4957), Government Auction News (071-734 8291/4, hotline 0891 887700).

Look out for

Erith, Kent: About 1,000 lots of new and used computer equipment and peripherals, tomorrow (11am). Anderson, Young, Birch House, Birch Walk, Fraser Road (0322 441197).

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