From bargains to masterpieces, June is the month for sales
For anyone wishing to acquire the collecting bug, June is probably the month to start. Whether art, antiques or antiquarian books are your passion, the events are on hand to dip a toe into the market.
Three big events for buyers are being hosted by the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London: the Antiquarian Book Fair, the Hali Fair and a Summer Fair, which boasts 300 international dealers trading everything from clocks and maps to furniture.
All the auction houses have major sales, with highlights including an important J M W Turner watercolour, The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne, Sunrise at Christie's, which is expected to make more than £2m. Sotheby's has a selection of less expensive works by the British master, though purchasers will still need at least £3,000 to stand a chance of securing one.
For those on a tighter budget or with more contemporary tastes, this year's batch of art college leavers are presenting their graduate shows. The interested contemporary collector will head to institutions such as the Royal College of Art, Goldsmith's and the Royal Academy to take a look at the work of emerging talents.
A bargain might also be found at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, in Brick Lane, east London,tomorrow. The fair is now in its fourth year, having begun life in Brighton, and has some pedigree.
In past years, Tracey Emin has got involved and Jake and Dinos Chapman have manned their own stall. This year, Gavin Turk is one rumoured participant, and Sara Lucas is also said to be taking part, with plans to sell mugs and cigarette jewellery.
Back in Olympia, the variety of items on offer is staggering. The Summer Fair boasts everything from a pair of mahogany Russian commodes to a good collection of Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery on the company's centenary. For those with the means and inclination, the fair also offers the opportunity to buy the world's biggest collection of Windsor chairs.
Textiles collectors may be interested in a sale at Sotheby's on Wednesday. A 170-piece lot from the collection of the Tory peer, Lord McAlpine of West Green, is due to go under the hammer. The collection has been built up over the past 25 years by Lord McAlpine, an art collector with a reputation for being ahead of the game, who sourced the pieces from as far afield as Japan, India, Pakistan and north Africa. Jonathan Meyer, a Sotheby's director, said the sale would be the largest the house had yet mounted of such works."Lord McAlpine has got a great flair for picking up on something a bit unusual", he said.
For book lovers, The Antiquarian Book Fair, which will be opened by Bob Geldof on Thursday, will include the sale of original handwritten formulae and letters from Albert Einstein, and writings by Sylvia Plath, including a Christmas project she wrote at the age of 12. There is also a copy of Plath's first poetry collection inscribed to her the parents of her husband, Ted Hughes.
Adrian Harrington, chairman of the Book Fair, said: "You don't have to be a collector. You can come and use the fair as a living museum and talk to people, without necessarily spending money."
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