Wednesday, 18 October 2006

On the road with Judith Miller

One of the most enjoyable, and often surprising, tasks my job entails is meeting people and discussing their collections. This can be for publication in one of our books, for valuation or - in this case - on a book signing tour. With Autumn's cold mornings and evenings showing us Summer really was over, Judith and I set off up the M1 to criss-cross the country. Our destinations over the next few days included Ashbourne in Derbyshire, Heswall in the Wirral, and ended up on the Isle of Man. Virtually every time a Judith Miller book-signing occurs, so does a mini-'antiques roadshow' type of valuation event. See below for a couple of the very exciting things we came across.

The welcoming and friendly
team at The Dovedale Gallery bookshop, in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, proudly holding copies of Judith's latest books.

At the valuation event, one lucky collector brought in this truly incredible mid-19th century oil on canvas painting of the first Maori to be (wrongly) imprisoned by the British. Politically sensitive? Yes. Historically important? Most certainly. Valuable? Without a doubt. That's why a say 'lucky' collector. It's impossible to value this sort of item precisely as it is both unique and of great importance. Like everything, it's worth what someone would pay. So how much would someone pay? I'd think a six figure sum - easily.

Judith and I were also lucky enough to come across a beautiful 1930s French Boch Freres vase in Heswall. With a book on Art Deco recently published, Judith was her usual self - a mine of information. We both explained that even as recently as three or four years ago, this vase may have fetched around £100-200, however, collectors have re-appraised the company's work and Art Deco is very fashionable right now, meaning a vase like this may now fetch around £800-1,200, or more. Coincidentally, Judith had recently seen a very similar example for sale at David Rago in New Jersey, USA, which was estimated at around $2,000. Nice find!
All the bookshops we visited had long queues of people eager to know more about their treasured heirlooms or recent finds. The one thing we always like to point out is that something does not need to be valuable to be interesting. So, never fear if you would like to bring something along to one of our events - whatever it is that you have. There's a story in everything, and we'd love to meet you! For more information on future events,
keep an eye on the Events page of my website.