What’s it worth? Find out with Gildings


Charles Robert Ashbee silver poringer

What's it worth...? Discover with Gildings


The owners of this silver bowl had no idea just how much it was worth. They arrived at their valuation appointment to be given a sale estimate of £1,000 – £1,500. It sold for much more…

Tucked away in a box of other items they had brought into Gildings Leicester saleroom the bowl was quickly identified as rare, by a 19th Century designer and given a sale estimate that made the owner pretty happy. But not as happy as they were going to be.

They were invited to enter the silver bowl in a suitable forthcoming sale and, interested in selling, the bowl was booked in to Gildings.

In order to get the best possible exposure for this item a 20th Century Decorative Arts sale was selected as the ideal showcase. These sales include items of furniture, ceramics, glass and metalware from the Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Post War design movements. Ideal because dealers and collectors around the world would be paying attention.

Once items have been consigned to a sale the marketing machine can begin. The bowl was photographed in our purpose built studio and catalogued by our Decorative Arts specialist. It was shown on our website highlight reel, social media and the Decorative Arts sale was advertised in national and international publications.

When the catalogue for each sale is published, a mailing list goes out and specialist emails are sent to people who have expressed interest in particular collectables. It’s all about exposure and a lot of hard work goes into making sure that the right people know what is coming up for sale.

The auction rooms are open to the public on the days leading up to each sale. Hundreds of people visit to look closely at the items they are interested in and decide how much they are prepared to pay. Those who can’t visit will request detailed condition reports and close up photography.

Sale day is the time to find out what the bowl is actually worth. The day was already going well with more than 300 registered internet bidders, a full saleroom and busy telephones reaching the far corners of the globe.

Lot 19, a Liberty & Co spoon estimated at £300-£400 had just sold for £3,600. The rare silver bowl at lot 20 was up next. Interest in this lot was high, bidding was fierce and fast, in the room, across the internet and on the telephones. The telephone under bidder was finally beaten by an internet bidder and the bowl sold for £7,200. The original owners were very happy indeed.

And then onto the next lot – lot 21 An Arts and Crafts copper twin-handled tray. Then the next and the next. As happens at Gildings, about 25,000 times a year.