Auctions

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PRIVATE BUYERS of fine English furniture are again being given a run for their money by dealers, having outbid them during the recession. Bullish results this month such as Sotheby's 98 per cent total for the Moller collection, Christie's 92.2 per cent for its 'important English' and 90 per cent for 'fine English' at Bonhams, indicate that bargain time for 'privateers' is ending.

Christie's sale two years ago of the extra-fine Messer collection ( pounds 7.6m, 100 per cent sold) signalled a top-end recovery. Now the mid-market is reviving, yielding prices such as Bonhams' pounds 22,000 for a set of 'plain' Chippendale chairs with no extra carving, estimated pounds 6,000- pounds 8,000 in its fine English sale (which totalled pounds 500,808). Even the bottom end is looking up. This week's under- pounds 5,000 furniture at Bonhams Chelsea was 91 per cent sold. Some provincial sales have also achieved spectacular successes.

Next week, Bonhams has a sale of 19th- and 20th-century furniture, porcelain and sculpture, Thursday (2pm), its first such combined-sector period sale in the manner of Christie's and Sotheby's. More middle-to- fine furniture at Phillips, Tuesday (11am) and at Christie's South Kensington, Wednesday (10.30am) among European artworks and carpets.

BEST OF THE REST

Christie's South Kensington, Tuesday: satsuma ware, (10.30am); corkscrews, wine-related items, silver and plate (also 10.30am); glass and paperweights (11am). Thursday: Oriental ceramics and artworks (10.30am), fine and rare cameras (also 10.30am). Christie's, Wednesday: clocks, watches, barometers (10.30am), books, manuscripts (11am).

COUNTRYWIDE

Twycross, Leicestershire: Lord and Lady de Clifford's 1,250-lot moving-house sale of contents, on-premises at Cliff House; 17th- to 19th-century furniture, paintings, carpets, porcelain, sporting guns, Thursday and Friday (10am daily). Heathcote & Ball (0533 536789).

Glasgow: Estimates at Christie's whisky sale start at pounds 100 a bottle, Wednesday (11am). 164 Bath Street (041-332 8134).

Hull: Contents of a health studio; slimming and gym equipment, sauna, mirrors, office fittings, Thursday (6pm). Edwardian Auction Galleries (0482 500500).

Richmond, Yorkshire: Tennants' fine art sale, Thursday (10am), includes furniture, jewellery, dolls, automata and musical boxes. Old Chapel Saleroom (0969 23780).

Benson, Oxfordshire: Complete on-site contents of a knackers and scrap yard, including fire engines and other vehicles, telephone boxes, lamp posts, plant, tools, Wednesday (10am) at Passey & Sons, Brook Street Yard. Thimbleby and Shorland (0734 508611).

West Hampstead: Due to withdrawal of government funding, plant and equipment of the Builders Training Association, on-site at Blackburn Road NW6: includes woodworking machinery, hand and power tools, fittings and a portable office building, Tuesday (1pm). Singletons (061-876 0748).

Billingshurst: Sotheby's two- day sale of furniture, paintings, textiles, treen, metalwork, pottery, porcelain, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10.30am daily (0403 783933).

Aberdeen: On-site liquidation sale of the Northern Co-operative Society at Berryden Road. Workshop, bakery, reprographic and canteen equipment, and vehicles. Wednesday (10.30am). Ryden, Henry & Butcher (0224 636800).

Nottingham: Receivership sale of paint manufacturing equipment including paints, oils and primers and motor vehicles, on- site at the Victoria Works, Wells Brown, Thursday (10am). Walker, Walton, Hanson (0602 584631).

FAIRS

Olympia Fine Art and Antiques continues until Tuesday. Weekend (11am-7pm), Monday (11am-8pm), Tuesday (11am-5pm). Entry by catalogue pounds 8 (071-370 8188).

Castle Howard Annual Antiques: 40 dealers in the state rooms, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am daily (0277 362662).

Welsh Decorative and Antiques: Dyffryn House, St Nicholas, Cardiff, Friday-Sunday from 10am. (Allen Lewis Fairs; 0202 604306).

Countrywide: Antiques Trade Gazette (071-930 4957) and Government Auction News (0686 668851, hotline 0891 887700).

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