Auctions: Prices bear up again

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BEARS are bouncing back. Three years ago, prices of the famous Steiff button-in-ear bears began to fade after a ludicrous pounds 55,000 at Sotheby's for a Twenties Steiff teddy convinced dealers that the picnic was over. But prices for British bears have doubled and tripled since then, and in the past year Steiff prices alone have doubled.

Bears wanting a valuation made their owners wait for an hour in a 100-yard queue at Kensington Town Hall's Bear Fair on bank holiday Monday. Christie's South Kensington reports that a 9in-high 1921 Steiff bear, similar to a 10in version estimated at pounds 650 and unsold at pounds 600 in September 1990, fetched pounds 1,400 in May. Teddies and dolls are at Christie's South Kensington, Thursday (2pm) with toys (10.30am and 2pm). A British Farnell bear is est pounds 300- pounds 400. An undated 10in Steiff 'Zotty' bear is pounds 100- pounds 150.


Your last chance to be spoilt for choice of continental militaria - Sotheby's Thursday (10.30am). It is holding its first militaria sale in Zurich on 6 November, having discovered the German, Italian and French markets for their own military art and weapons are strong, but that continental buyers are reluctant to travel to London.


High-class costume and textile sale at Christie's South Kensington Thursday (2pm) includes James II's wedding suit, expected to set a new world record price for costume of more than pounds 200,000.


Three-day sale of GB and Empire: Christie's Wednesday and Thursday (11am daily), Friday (10.30am). GB, Commonwealth and general: Harmer's Tuesday and Wednesday (1.30pm daily). General sale: Phillips Thursday (11am), Friday (11am).


Liquidated high-quality wines Tuesday (12 noon): Montague Park Hotel, Montague Street, London WC2. James Owen (081-458 5545). British ceramics and glass: Sotheby's Tuesday (10.30am). Eighteenth- and 19th-century glass: Christie's South Kensington (10.30am). Musical instruments: Bonham's Wednesday (11am), Phillips Thursday (11am).


Good general sales of antique furniture, artworks: Stockport, Manchester, Thursday (10.30am and 2.30pm) at the Alma Lodge Hotel, A6 (Buxton Road). David Dockree (061 485 1258). Warnham, West Sussex, Wednesday (10am). Denhams, Horsham Auction Galleries, on A24, two miles north of Horsham (0403 55699). Sevenoaks, Kent: Wednesday and Thursday (10am) with Danish silver, toys and dolls. Phillips (0732 740310).

Perth: More than 850 lots Wednesday and Thursday (10.30am daily). Lindsay Burns (0738 33888).

Billingshurst: With air shows pulling 50,000 spectators and aero-jumbles proliferating, Sotheby's aeronautica sale next Saturday (2pm) is worth a look. Aircraft come in flying order (a Hawker Hunter jet is est pounds 200,000- pounds 250,000) or in bits: the only bits left of a German Junkers JU87R-4 which crashed on the Russian- Finnish border in 1942 are est pounds 28,000- pounds 32,000.

Wellington: Contents of Gerbestone Manor, West Buckland (just off junction 26 of M5), on the premises without reserve Thursday and Friday (10.30am). Includes 200 lots of costumes. Greenslade Hunt, Taunton (0823 332525).

Camborne: Vehicles, engineering lathes, industrial equipment, today (11am) at Unit 4c, Trevu Industrial Estate, Trevu Road. Lodge & Thomas (0872 72722).

Tunbridge Wells: Contents of Groombridge Place, Groombridge, on the premises Tuesday and Wednesday (10.30am and 2.30pm daily); includes 17th- and 18th-century furniture, paintings, silver, books, carpets, needlework. Sotheby's (071-408 5263).

Preston: Sale of woodworking machinery, ironmongery, office equipment, VHS tapes at Jasco, Mouncy Street, Bamber Bridge, Tuesday (11am). J & C Auctions (061 881 6266).

Shifnal: Antique furniture and decorations from local residences, Wednesday (10am): Park House Hotel. Walker Barnett & Hill (0902 773531).

Belfast: Irish pictures at Belfast Castle, Antrim Road, Wednesday (7pm). Christie's Scotland (041 332 8134).

Countrywide sales: 'Antiques Trade Gazette', 17 Whitcomb Street, London WC2 (071-930 4957); Government Auction News (071-734 8291/4).

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