Auction Musings

As a child I would get Smash Hits magazine, cut out the pictures of Debbie Harry from Blondie, Clare Grogan from Altered Images and other artists of the day and stick them to my bedroom walls, eventually graduating to NME as an angst ridden teenager. I picked up a guitar and learnt and few chords and have been a dedicated three chord strummer ever since. I continued to buy vinyl records in the 1980s when my friends had moved to CDs mainly because I could not afford a CD player. I used to buy their redundant collections for the price of their favourite chart topping CD. I even sold my record collection years later to partially fund the setting up of the auction. A move which when I tell record collectors they raise their eyebrows as they would rather sell their souls to the devil, Robert Johnson style than sell their prized collections. So we have always prided ourselves on our records and musical instruments. We have had some interesting collections come in over the years. One small collection of four boxes saved from certain death at the tip made well over £4000. Then a dealer friend contacted me and said he had been asked to sell some guitars. He sent some blurry images and I had a look but from a photograph it was difficult to tell if they were authentic or not or what they would play like. He then sent me some provenance which is where the story gets more interesting, They had belonged to a session musician who had played with Pink Floyd, The Kinks, The Who and other legendary artists of the 1970’s. I realized these were not going to be low grade entry levels copies and I waited in anticipation for them to arrive. When they did I plugged in his Marshall stack and blew the cobwebs away. The two that did not look much were modified to his specifications and these were like Ferraris dressed as Morris Minors. There was also a Les Paul Standard, an Eddie Van Halen Wolfgang and an Eric Clapton signature series Fender Stratocaster as well as a brand new Telecaster. I was in heaven for the days prior to the sale strumming my three chords in my little office, crooning out John Prine and Oasis covers sipping a single malt.

Then came the sale day, a virtual sale with no viewing, same as ever in our Covid time. But that did not stop the buyers, the six guitars hammered out at £7770 with one buyer buying four out of the six available instruments, all going to collectors to be played. It was a shame it could not have been a sale with viewing as it would have nice to hear some musicians doing their stuff with them but this obviously did not effect the final outcome.
On the back of this I have decided to do an annual higher end collectable record and musical instrument sale, so dig out the old records you never play or that old Ibanez guitar gathering dust in the corner and give me a call.

Auction Move Update


This is a quick update about our forthcoming move. Things are progressing well and I am lotting in for the next sale on Saturday January 9th which will be held at Escot village Hall, however due to being in Tier 3 with government restrictions it will be an online viewing sale only. The current website is now mobile friendly and I am assured the telephone number will be the same. Pick ups will be on a strict appointment basis as before and will be at:

Riverside Cottage

Gosford Lane

Ottery St Mary

Ex11 1nf

Some of the larger furniture items will be available to pick up at the auction house old address until the lease runs out in mid-January. So, think of me over your christmas dinner I will be wielding a paint brush getting the rooms ship shape and Bristol fashion.


So have a very merry christmas and thank you for your continued support in the future.


David Sumner

David’s new Ottery Auction Rooms post

In a facetime conversation with a fellow auctioneer the other day we talked about the trials and tribulations of our strange auction world in the current climate. His work revolves around bankrupt stock and matters of insolvency whereas my world is that of solicitors and deceased estates. He moaned that with the internet over the last few years as a buying platform he did not recognize most of his clients and now as all his sales are timed auctions he has very little to do with the buyers at all. He remarked that he did not miss the cut and thrust of a busy saleroom, sitting on the rostrum for hours selling to people he did not know. For me it was slightly different prior to COVID-19, the room would be packed with fifty to a hundred customers, most of them regulars, waving homemade paddles and filling up on bacon sandwiches. We have always had the internet as a strong buying presence, but the room commanded the sale. I miss the people and the buzz of the auction, being in my lofty pulpit, looking down on the congregation. I miss the nerves prior to the sale, wearing the suit and wielding the gavel, the master of ceremonies, taking abuse from porters and customers alike. I was surprised when he said that he did not miss any of that, he enjoyed the time sales with no audience participation, he had not picked up a gavel since March. However, he had never been busier because of the nature of the financial impact of Covid 19 bankruptcies had gone through the roof and were set to get busier when we hit the end of the furlough system. In our auction not a lot has changed except the lack of audience and having no viewing days. The clearances keep coming in as the estates get cleared and items are catalogued and sold albeit only via the internet. What the future holds for all of our differing auction houses who knows, except businesses will keep going to the wall and people will keep on dying. Luckily, we have not seen a sharp rise in deceased estates due to Covid, however our workload has gone up because furloughed people are busy at home clearing out lofts and garages. Also, people have been using auctions to buy from to create secondary businesses on Ebay and Facebook selling pages to bolster their incomes while stuck at home. I am looking forward to getting back in my pulpit along with the majority of auctioneers who miss the theatre or pantomime of the sales.

Great sales at Ottery Auction Rooms

Our clients have been seeing some great sale prices for their items recently and below are some examples of the items and final sale prices:

Rare Maori Hei Tiki
realised £1800 plus premium


Lalique car mascot (with damage)
realised £680 plus premium


Unusual Grover & Baker Sewing machine
realised £900


Vintage Massey Ferguson tractor
made £1300 plus premium


Shelley Phlox pattern tea set
realised £190


An unusual Patented self righting chess set
made £550


French Majolica Cockerel by Hautin & Boulanger (with damages)
realised £650



March 3rd Bargain Hunt at Ottery Auctions

BBC  Back at Ottery Auction Rooms

Ottery Auction Rooms on the Finnimore Industrial Estate in the heart of Ottery St Mary will once again roll out the red carpet for the BBC as Bargain Hunt will be filming at the auction house on the viewing day on Wednesday March 2nd and on the sale day itself on Thursday March 3rd .Auctioneer David Sumner was very excited to have them back again albeit with a different show. “I think it was the cream cakes, copious cups of tea and the warm welcome is what drew them back rather than my face” he joked, “ I never got the call from Hollywood after the last time!”.
 It is shaping up to be an interesting auction with three famous familiar BBC experts bringing their charm and wit to the local auction room. David has not been told yet who they are so you will all have to wait and see, better still come down to the sale on the view day or sale day and you may even get on the television. The auction rooms will accepting vintage and antique items up until mid-February so it could be possible to have you items in shot on the television and if they are exceptional they may even do a piece just on your item so bring your weird and wonderful collectables and antiques down to the saleroom to have them valued and potentially filmed.
Please note that the sale is on a Thursday not the usual Saturday so make a date in your diary.

BBC at Ottery Auction Rooms

Ottery Auction Rooms will be on BBC 1 on Monday January 12th at 4.30 p.m. on Antiques Road Trip

Damien Hirst Sketch

An original dedicated sketch by one the most famous and iconic late 20th century artists, Damien Hirst will be sold at Ottery Auction Rooms on 16th January 2014. This cartoon was gifted to the housekeeper at Chanters House, Lord Coleridge’s residence and also exclusive bed and breakfast, when Hirst came to watch the famous Ottery St Mary Tar barrels back in 2001. The gift was for making Hirst feel at home and cooking him breakfast in bed after a late night.

Featured Item

Pair of Japanese Satsuma vase.
Realized £650

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Featured Item

4 Gold sovereigns on a 9ct bracelet
Realized £1000

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Featured Item

Chinese Jade Cong
Realized £240