Collectors corner: Ornaments bloom in garden auction
Check what's lurking behind the rhododendrons, it may just be a work of art.
Saturday 15 July 2006
Forget the exotic plants imported to wow the judges at Chelsea Flower Show. The most valuable items in your garden could be statuary. This is a specialist collectors' market that has gone from strength to strength, but with a very limited supply of material, it's also an area that still has the potential to see some significant price rises.
Sotheby's held its first garden statuary sale in Billingshurst, West Sussex, in 1986. It made a record amount for a provincial sale, and the auction house now holds two sales a year.
"It's a comparatively cheap market," says Rupert van der Werff, the head of garden statuary. "In our last sale, we had two lots making six figures and, for us, that is unusual.
"I would imagine values will increase as people become aware of quite how good many pieces are and that they should be viewed in the same context as other period pieces."
Around 90 per cent of Sotheby's lots are sold privately and the auction house ships around the world. "The market is very strong for the best items," says Van der Werff. "There are some areas that have really come up in price during the past few years; most notably, 18th-century leadwork, both figurative and architectural, which has probably quadrupled in the past two or three years. It was undervalued before but people are realising the rarity value and the fantastic quality of it."
But there are dangers with rising prices. In this market, frenzied buying of cast-iron Coalbrookdale seats in the late 1990s lead to record prices of well over £30,000 - since then, their value has plunged.
Even so, some pieces have been much more steady. "In general, there is now a much greater awareness of what's good and what's average," says Van der Werff.
The top prices are paid for figurative sculptures, in marble and decent 18th-century lead figures. Codestone or Blashfield sculptures and urns are reasonably priced and always sell well, while there has also been a rise in interest for the Compton Potters Art Guild.
One area where there is great potential for price rises is in top-quality modern work. "For the past couple of years, we've included sections of contemporary sculpture in the auctions," says Van der Werff. "We've had a good response to it. It's an area that is going to grow enormously."
Spotting sculptors whose reputations will achieve longevity is tricky, though there are several well-established artists, such as Lucy Kinsella, who are already selling well.
There is an enormous variety of garden art, from bridges to simple urns, fountains and bird baths, sundials and fossils, which have become increasingly popular. It's a relatively small market because only wealthy individuals have been able to afford quality decorative items for the garden. In many cases, works are unique, having been created especially for a specific house or client.
The limited supply will ensure that the best of this art continues to rise in value. For now, it's mostly "old money" buying, but if fashions shift and gardens attract the attention of the "new rich", expect to see some meteoric price rises, as we have in other markets.
Sotheby's (next sale 26 September, Billingshurst, West Sussex): 01403 833560, www.sothebys.com
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
iJobs Money & Business
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...
£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens