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The Independent Online
IT IS Impressionist week and auctioneers at Christie's and Sotheby's are preening their whiskers in anticipation of results as bullish as this month's big Victorian paintings sales in London (Christie's sold 91 per cent, Sotheby's 89.5 per cent by value) and last month's big Impressionist sales in New York (Christie's 89.5 per cent, Sotheby's 88 per cent).

For those who cannot afford to bid pounds 4m- pounds 5m for Christie's Renoir of a young girl with basket of flowers, or even pounds 125,000- pounds 175,000 for Magritte's La Trahison des Images, there is a chance of a rummage in Sotheby's 474-lot sale, Monday and Tuesday (both 2.30pm), of stock of Alan Thomas, the late Hampstead antiquarian bookseller and collector. One lot is three wooden boxes filled with thousands of unsorted fragments of documents dating to the 14th century: est pounds 800- pounds 1,200.

But for voyeurs and disposers of millions, Christie's Impressionist and modern sales are Monday, part I (7pm) and Tuesday, part II (10.30am). Contemporaries - with leading Sixties Nouveaux Realistes and Zeros - Thursday (2.30pm). Some fresh-to-market moderns are in Christie's charity sale of the Kodicek collection, Wednesday (7pm). Sotheby's part I is Tuesday (7.15pm), part II Wednesday (11am). The collection of Marie-Louise Durand-Ruel is Tuesday (7pm).

Christie's (South Kensington) biggest sale yet of Impressionists and contemporaries (including ceramics) is Monday (2pm). Sotheby's contemporary art, a rich selection including pieces from the Charlotte Moorman estate, is Thursday (11am); a Californian private collection is Wednesday (10.30am). Phillips alone has modern Brits, Tuesday (11am).

The Thomas collection is only one offering in this annual big week for books and manuscripts (see fairs, below). Christie's sale, Wednesday (10.30am), has a copy of the first book printed in English, by Caxton, est pounds 400,000- pounds 500,000) and the first printed children's game (1744), est pounds 10,000- pounds 15,000. Sotheby's, strong on maps, is Thursday and Friday (10.30am) with Western manuscripts and miniatures Tuesday (10.30am). Besides a newly found Tolkien watercolour ( pounds 4,000- pounds 5,000), Bonhams' book and manuscript sale, Monday (1pm), offers 600 autographed letters and signatures of kings, presidents and literati found in a cardboard box in Devon. Estimates from pounds 100 to pounds 2,000- pounds 4,000 for Charles I's warrant for the execution of John Felton, lover and murderer of his father, the loathed Duke of Buckingham. More scandal at Bonhams: 105 erotic Twenties photographs, est pounds 100- pounds 150 each, in Thursday's collectors' sale (12 noon). Bloomsbury Book Auctions: Thursday (1pm).

Tribal art looms at Sotheby's: a big sale Monday (10.30am), followed by a fine French private collection. Bonhams' sale: Wednesday (2pm). Rearguard: Christie's (South Kensington) biggest toy soldier sale, Thursday and Friday (10.30am).

COUNTRYWIDE

Bourne: War-time theme sale: furniture, antiques, chattels, next Saturday (10am). Richardson's, Bourne Auction Rooms, Spalding Road (0778 422686).

Wrexham: 200 enamel advertising signs and mirrors, a 1924 Morris 1 ton van, Monday (11am). Wingett's, 29 Holt Street (0978 353553).

Salford: Pawnbrokers' unredeemed pledges, Thursday (11am). Artingstall & Hind, 39 Cobden Street, Pendleton (061 736 5682).

Welshpool: Country household and garden sale in the Town Hall, Friday (10am). Harry Ray (0938 552555).

Torquay: Jewellery, silver, pictures, furniture, Tuesday (9.30am). Bearne's, Avenue Road (0803 296277).

Coventry: By order of the taxman: computers, office equipment, garden wares, Friday (9am). Richard Ellis, 16 Warwick Row (0203 555180).

FAIRS

Until Thursday: The London antiquarian book, ephemera, print and map fairs, Park Lane Hotel, Hotel Russell, Bonnington Hotel, Royal National Hotel, New Connaught Rooms, Cafe Royal, St Olave's Parish Hall. Days and times (071-837 3041 or 071-837 6470).

Thursday-Sunday: Westminster Antiques, Horticultural Old Hall, SW1 (Penman Antiques Fairs; 0444 482514).

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

Look out for . . .

Salisbury: Oriental ceramics, ivories, ethnographica, lace, fans, toys, Thursday (10am). Woolley & Wallis, Castle Street (0722 411422).

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