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MORE method than madness is in Christie's decision to hold its first sale of German and Austrian art, Thursday (10.30am). Nationally themed sales are reminiscent of the shaky heights of the boom, when Scandinavian and Latin American art sales in London went up - then down - like rockets. But Christie's is flexing its international muscles. Cranach, Nolde, Friedrich and Schiele are worldwide names. The place to sell them, Christie's reckons, is London. Americans go for German art, and the Japanese and even the Taiwanese have been nosing around. They will be more tempted to buy in London than in Germany, Christie's believes.

The sale has been promoted as a one-off occasion - no commitment to repeats. A lot of money has been spent on German drinks parties and 'gatherings' - solo roadshows by Christie's valuers - and sale lots have been exhibited in six German and Austrian cities. Lord Poltimore, in charge of the sale, calculates it has yielded 60-70 per cent extra business over a six- month period. It has tempted out a rare Friedrich, Walk at Dusk, estimate in excess of pounds 2m.


Another one-off sale - the third, in fact - of surplus BBC costumes by Bonhams, Monday (12am) takes place at the BBC's warehouse in Acton. Both the first, last January (total pounds 83,820), and the second, last June ( pounds 20,278), were meant to be the last. This positively final disrobing is of 25,000 costumes cast off after the closure of the BBC North costume department: Catholic vestments, broken leg casts and street-wearable garments by Christian Dior and Tommy Nutter. BBC: Unit 4, Royal London Industrial Estate, North Acton Road, London W3.

Best of the rest: Toys, dolls and teddies at Christie's South Kensington, Thursday (10.30am) and Sotheby's (with automata) Tuesday (10.30am); Doulton wares, British art pottery and tiles, Phillips, Thursday (1.30pm); 400-lot sale of decorative and topographical prints, photographs, books, maps, by Bloomsbury Book Auctions, Thursday (1pm).


Lacock: Contents of Bewley Court, on the premises, Monday (10.30am) - furniture, artworks, carpets, silver, metalware. Sotheby's (071-408 5263).

Old Heathfield: Contents of Heathfield Park, sold by the artist and actor Gerald Moore to fund a fine art academy. Flamboyant furnishings. Wednesday (10am). Sotheby's (071-408 5263).

Leicester: Contents of Thurnby Manor with lots from other sources, Thursday (10.30am). Heathcote Ball, Castle Auction Rooms (0533 536789).

Ludlow: Part-contents of Tithecote Manor, near Henley-on- Thames, Tuesday (10.30am). Ludlow Antique Auctions (0584 875157).

Barnsley: Doulton and Beswick character jugs, figurines and artistic pieces, today (12 noon) at Milton Hall, Elsecar. BBR Auctions (0226 745156).

Dorchester: Stevenson collection of 18th-century drinking glasses, other glass and ceramics, Thursday (10.30am). Bronzes, metalwork, theatrical posters, furniture, Friday (10.30am). Duke's (0305 265080).

Stroud: Ex-MoD vehicles: Land Rovers, 75 Vauxhall Carltons, vans, minibuses, lorries, Tuesday (10am). MoD Aston Down (061 223 9179).

Plymouth: Computers and peripherals, tomorrow (11am) at the Novotel, Marsh Mills Roundabout. South West Computer Auctions (0934 642437).

Strathclyde: Surplus vehicles, plant and equipment, on instructions of Strathclyde District Council, includes tractors, trailers, generators, Thursday (11am). Intercity Motor Auctions (041-556 3333).

Sheffield: Fitted carpets, kitchens, new records, tapes, CDs, computers, sundries, ladies' clothing, bicycles, gym equipment, Tuesday (10.30am) at Irish Social Centre. Ellis, Willis & Beckett (0742 767156).


Tomorrow: Annual International Vintage Slot Machines: Knebworth House, Knebworth, Hertfordshire. Goldsmith-Roberts (0279 647191).

Wednesday-Sunday: Antiques: Grasmere Hall, Grasmere (0748 824095).

Next Saturday-Sunday: Mammoth: Springwood Park Showground, Kelso (Four in One Promotions; 0455 233495).

Look out for . . .

Winford: Remaining contents of Winford Hospital, on site. Teak garden benches, hospital beds, screens, Tuesday (10am). Allan & Harris (0272 533676).

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

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