AUCTIONS / Dealers despair and buyers bargain

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The Independent Online
A MODERN and contemporary art department has been launched at Bonham's at a time when the run-down contemporary market seems to be sparking fitfully. Christie's contemporary art sale on 2 July sold 90 per cent - a real sparkler these days - including pounds 369,000 for eggshell-filled furniture by Marcel Broodthaers (est pounds 80,000- pounds 120,000).

Bonham's has hitherto avoided mainstream contemporary sales, but has sold modern Brits, considered less volatile. Thursday's sale (11am), put together in six weeks by newly- appointed Claudia Wolfers, contains 70 per cent modern Brits. She is a former dealer, ex- Agnews, Flowers East and Albemarle.

She knows which hard-pressed dealers are shifting dead stock between each other's shop windows or phoning round trying to muster enough of an artist's work to mount a selling exhibition - and has winkled out the best of it for her first sale. The 212 lots include plenty of dealers' despairs which could turn into private buyers' delights.

Christie's has amalgamated its British and marine pictures sales - Friday (10.30am). Marine pictures, at home at Christie's cosier South Kensington salerooms twice a year, bobbed up at King Street last November and May with respectable totals of 78.5 and 82 per cent sold. Amalgamations are a sign of the times - a huddling together to keep afloat. It is not the marines that need buoyancy (another big sale is scheduled for South Ken in October) but the old British dames and dogs - only 55 per cent sold in April and 56 per cent last November.

Sotheby's, by contrast, has a fat 215-lot catalogue of British paintings (1500-1850) Wednesday (11am). Its 18th- and 19th-century British drawing and watercolours are on Thursday (11am). Christie's British drawings and watercolours Tuesday (11am). Phillips watercolours, drawings and miniatures, including estimates under pounds 1,000, Monday (2pm).

OLD FINERY

Fine costumes and textiles at Christie's South Kensington Tuesday (2pm): pounds 150- pounds 200 might buy an 1820 muslin dress with ruched collar, pounds 1,000- pounds 1,500 an early 17th-century doublet.

ENGLISH FURNITURE

Sotheby's big sale continues Friday (11am). More furniture at Christie's Thursday (10.30am), Phillips Tuesday (11am), Christie's South Kensington (with carpets) 12.30pm.

SNIPS

Plenty of frame-worthy pictures at Phillips' sale of printed books, atlases, maps Thursday (1pm). Under pounds 100 will buy some decorative bits and pieces. A cast- iron Imperial printing press is est pounds 1,500- pounds 2,500 in the sale. Silver: mid-range sale at Phillips Friday (11am), Christie's South Kensington Tuesday (2pm).

COUNTRYWIDE

Glasgow and Edinburgh: Perhaps it is not a false market for golf memorabilia: it just looks like one. Christie's has a 610-lot sale Thursday (11am) in its Bath Street rooms (041 332 8134). At Sotheby's annual sale at Loretto School, Musselborough, near Edinburgh, a golf iron made between 1688 and 1720 is est pounds 25,000- pounds 40,000 (071-493 8080).

Henley-on-Thames: Today (2pm), Phillips' sale of traditional river craft and ephemera including model boats at the Boat Tent. Contents of 'Sunnyclose', Fawley, on the premises, on Tuesday and Wednesday (10am): 1,400 lots - books, silver, artworks, carpets. Dreweatt Neate, Newbury (0635 31234).

Manchester: Decorative arts and Doulton ware including plaques ( pounds 250- pounds 450) and figures ( pounds 50- pounds 200). Loving cups and jugs. Tuesday (12 noon). Capes and Dunn, 38 Charles Street (061 273 1911). Complete liquidated stock of a DIY shop and a builders' merchant: no reserve. Charterfields International at Alvin UK, Thorpe Street, Walkden, Farmworth. Tuesday 10.30am (0742-797788).

Market Bosworth, Leicestershire: Antique furniture, pictures and effects from Osbaston Hall, belonging to the Guinness family, in a marquee on the premises Thursday (10.30am). English and Continental furniture, including a mahogany four-poster bed, carpets, architectural items. Heathcot Ball, Leicester (0533 536789).

Chichester: European and Oriental porcelain, glass, 100 lots of silver, jewellery, bronzes, clocks, furniture, pictures, Wednesday (10am). English furniture Thursday (10am): Phillips, Baffins Lane (0243 787548).

Cheltenham: Horse-drawn vehicles, saddlery, harness, machinery, implements at the Cotswold horse and pony sale Thursday (10.30am) at Ossage Farm, Andoversford. Tayler and Fletcher (0451 30383).

Solihull: At Bentley Heath, Midland carriage sale - trailers, carts, gigs, four-wheelers, Wednesday (10am). Thimbleby and Shoreland (0734 508611).

Boston, Lincolnshire: Britain's biggest weekly outdoor general sale - eggs, bicycles, bric-a-brac, industrial plant. Wednesday (10am). Eleys, 1 Main Ridge West (0205 361687).

Sheffield: Large quantity of liquidated ski boots and mountaineering equipment in a no-reserve sale including contents of a jeweller's shop, train sets, household furniture, computers, clothing. Tuesday (9.30am). Ellis, Willis and Becket at the Irish Social Centre, 151 Brunswick Road (0742 729667).

Poole: Police no-reserve charity sale of lost and stolen goods. Tuesday (10am). Alder King, 13 St Peter's Road, Parkstone (0202 748567).

Information on countrywide sales by Antiques Trade Gazette (071- 930 4957), Government Auction News (071-734 8291), Saleroom and Auction Monthly (081-336 0393).

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