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Tag Archives: Auction

Well, it’s been quite a week with the great kitchen remodel and the emergency appendectomy Kelly performed, one of my many and valid reasons for going MIA last week. Thanks, Kelly, great job! How I laughed when you asked if you should wash your hands first.

Another thing that did happen last week was that my parents’ musical instruments, a cello (detail here), a couple of violins and some bows were auctioned off. It was sad because we have no string players in the family who could have inherited them, and these instruments were much loved by them. One of my earliest memories is of going to sleep listening to my dad play.

But it was also fascinating because my dad’s violin turned out to be the star of the show. And I didn’t even have to email in bids to keep the bidding going. Even though the auctioneer believed it to be a fake and thus predicted a low sell price, two bidders got into a bidding war over the violin, described as  

Violin labelled Tho. Perry & W M Wilkinson…no. 4906, Dublin 1830, no. 4906 branded on the button and branded Perry Dublin below the button.

My dad believed it to be a late nineteenth century French instrument. If it had been a fake, chances are it would have been German. But if it was really what it said it was, then the bidding war was justified. Thomas Perry (1744-1818) was in fact one of the great British violin makers of the late Georgian period who made 3,000 or 4,000 instruments (or 4,906; estimates vary) characterized by a typical rich, warm and focussed sound ( But it’s mysterious. After Perry’s death, WM Wilkinson, his son in law, carried on the business capitalizing on Perry’s name and reputation.

Much has been made of the fact that although Perry’s firm apparently continued to trade as ‘Perry and Wilkinson’ after 1818, Perry and Wilkinson were probably never in partnership, though William Wilkinson married Perry’s daughter. The general view is that standards declined after 1818: ‘a lamentable falling-off in workmanship, modelling and tone’ (Henley). A fairer picture is perhaps that quality became much more variable. Some good work was produced from this workshop but owing to labelling problems it is not always clear what was sold after 1818 but made under Perry’s direction beforehand. From: “The Violin Family and its Makers in the British Isles” by Brian W. Harvey, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995; pp183-185. Quoted at

But if you were going to fake an instrument wouldn’t it make more sense to attribute it to the period of Perry’s lifetime?

Perry was probably of French Huguenot descent, hence the French connection, related to a Parisian instrument maker called Claude Pierray. He worked in Dublin in Temple Bar, moving to this location on Anglesea Street in 1787. Maybe my father’s family had owned the violin all along, since they came from Dublin, but more likely his father, an inveterate auction goer himself, had picked it up for a song. He probably would have approved of last week’s sale.

I’ve never attended a live auction. How about you? Do you own any family treasures?

Have you ever held a yard sale in order to fund a home repair project? Well, that’s precisely what Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana, did when he needed ten million pounds to repair the roof at Althorp and fund other home repair projects. Rather than use his driveway and front yard, Earl Spencer used the famous Christies auction house to auction off paintings, furniture, carriages, livery, uniforms, walking sticks, canes, snuff boxes, spoons, linens, porcelain, inkstands, and more.

See all the items here.
Read more about it here.

Too bad the auction is over, because I would have selected these items for myself:

I’m partial to prints and artwork and would not have been able to resist a miniature of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806). Georgiana died before the Regency, but she was a super star of her day, a fashion icon and a political hostess as well as a lady who personified some of the excesses of the Georgian era.

This is Lady Anne Horatia Seymour, wife of Lord Hugh Seymour, one of the Prince Regent’s set, and good friend of Mrs. Fitzherbert. Isn’t she pretty?

This fellow is Colonel Sir Horace Beauchamp Seymour, son of Lady Anne Horatia Seymour. Doesn’t he just look like the perfect Regency gentleman? Look at that hair!

I also love antique porcelain and I thought these Chinese Famille Rose plates (1736-95) were particularly beautiful.

I also could not resist this lovely piece of furniture which the auction house called a “Louis XVI Giltwood Canape.”

There were so many treasures at the auction that it would have been hard to limit myself. As it was, I “spent” about ten thousand pounds. And I noticed that most of what I coveted was Georgian, not Regency. I suppose my Regency world is furnished with Georgian decor.

Did you ever buy a treasure at an auction or a yard sale? When I was at college I bought a desk and a vacuum cleaner worth every bit of the ten dollars I spent!

Which of Earl Spencer’s treasures would you have purchased?

Come visit me on Thursday for Diane’s Blog and next Sunday here at Risky Regencies when my friend Mary Blayney will talk about her latest, Courtesan’s Kiss.

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As promised, here are my treasures from the Beau Monde Silent Auction.

On the Wednesday before the RWA conference, the Beau Monde held its wonderful all day conference with great workshops by the likes of Kalen Hughes and our own Janet Mullany. Kalen put the program together this year and did a fantastic job.

After the workshops there is a Regency Tea and silent auction. Beau Monde members donate items for the auction and we bid on them by writing down our bid. Then we watch to see if anyone tries to outbid us. Some of the items went through hot and heavy bidding, including my donations: An Illustrated Guide to London, 1800 by Mary Irene Cathcart Borer and Historical Maps of the Napoleonic Wars by Simon Forty. Now before you sigh and think how good it was of me to donate these books consider that I’d purchased them twice. Forgot I had them. My donations are always books I bought twice.

At the end of the auction I was standing by my items with pen at the ready in case anyone tried to outbid me. Obviously it was not a discerning crowd because only one person tried to wrest an item from my possession.

This fellow here, a lovely soldier figurine about six inches tall.

The dastardly person who tried to outbid me was KEIRA.
But she was really sweet, because she told me she planned to give the figurine to me as a surprise. Instead, I paid more money for it!

Anyway, he is a perfect suitor for my Veneta, the only Regency Royal Doulton figurine I’ve ever seen.

Some other treasures no one else recognized as Great Finds were the Wellington biography and the Wellington print. You can’t see it here but the print is in a lovely wooden frame.

Amanda can tell you that I’ve been a Wellington groupie since 2003 when we visited his country house, Stratfield Saye.

My favorite treasure of all, though, was the 1837 Architectural Print of London buildings. The name of the print is hidden by the mat, but a name on one of the buildings is Boston Insurance Office.
Even though this is later than the Regency I love these prints. I have several of them, including one of Apsley House (that Wellington groupie thing again) that I purchased from a print shop in London when we had about 5 minutes to shop.

Here is another treasure that arrived the day after I returned home. My very own Leonidas (aka Gerard Butler) talking action figure, complete with two heads and a blood spattered body. I pre-ordered it ages ago! He is sooooo lovely. And I didn’t even have to bid on him.

What treasures are lurking in your house?
What is that one Regency Item you would LOVE to own?

Pay me a morning call at my brand new website! See my news. Browse through my pages. Enter my contest to win two copies of The Mysterious Miss M, one for you and one for a friend.

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