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  • Father's Day 2018 Discount Coupon Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions for the Father's Day coupon code are as follows:Silly Old Trout Tankard

    1. To use, simply enter FATHERSDAY10 into the coupon box at the checkout.
    2. This will give you 10% off your cart contents.
    3. There is no minimum spend.
    4. Discount does not apply to shipping costs.
    5. You can use the coupon as many times as you like.
    6. Items already on sale are not included in this promotion.
    7. Coupon is valid from 31st May 2018 until Sunday 17th June 2018.
    8. To guarantee UK delivery by Father's Day, we recommend ordering by Wednesday 13th June 2018.
    9. Orders can be sent with one of our unique gift cards at an additional cost. Just add one to the cart and included your message at the checkout.
  • Retro Rumtopf: A Taste of Nostalgia

    When I was a teenager, my father bought a rumtopf crock at a summer car-boot fair. He’d tried some traditional rumtopf made by a German couple many years before and, upon finding this pot, decided to recreate it himself. He excitedly layered fruit, rum, and sugar until the crock was full and stashed it in our cellar. Many months later, at Christmas time, the dusty pot was revealed, and we eagerly lined up to sample the contents.

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    The fruit juices had mingled with the rum to create a magnificently mouth-watering liquor, which suspended the soft, sweet chunks of preserved fruit. Served with a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream, this was truly one big throwback to the summer. However, the dark, spiced rum really gave it a festive feel. This truly was a winning combination; the ultimate comfort food.

    Rumtopfs are steeped in nostalgia for me; memories of happy childhood Christmas’ and of the long summers that helped produce the contents.

    What is a rumtopf and where does it come from?

    This traditional dessert is native to Germany and Denmark. In Germany, it is referred to as ‘Rumtopf’; in Denmark, ‘Romkrukke’. The literal translation of these words is ‘rum pot’. These ceramic crocks were hugely fashionable in the mid-to-late 20th century, but as the turn of the 21st century brought with it huge demand for imported produce, the need for traditional preservation methods waned. Nowadays, great emphasis is placed on seasonal eating and the carbon footprint of our food; a rumtopf can offer a cheap and tasty alternative to those expensive, heavy desserts we are so used to in the winter months.

    When should I start my rumtopf?

    Ideally, you will begin in the summer and continue into the autumn months, as various types of soft and hard fruits will be coming into season. As we all know, the best time to eat fruit is when it is in season; you’d be unlikely to find a flavoursome fresh strawberry in December!

    What are the benefits of shopping seasonally?

    The rumtopf captures the essence of ‘seasonal shopping’. But why is it better to buy in season rather than out of season? I have listed some reasons below:

    • Flavour. Probably the most important point when considering what to put in your rumtopf. You want the tastiest, best ingredients to ensure that the finished product is the best it can be. There is no substitute for the delight that soft, summer apricots and sweet, autumn plums will bring to your palate.
    • Nutrition. Fruit grown in these optimal seasonal conditions will, as mentioned, be tastier. Due to being harvested at their ‘best’, they will also have a greater nutritional value.
    • Cost. As fruit comes in to season, there is the inevitable glut. June sees the appearance of the juicy, British strawberries; not only are these infinitely tastier than their imported Spring rivals, but they’re probably decidedly cheaper than in the months before the summer influx.
    • Environment. If you can afford to shop locally then there are environmental benefits. Most food is transported in one way or another, thus creating a carbon footprint of sorts. However, by buying from local suppliers or farms, you are supporting local trade and hopefully ensuring that the energy used in the production of the fruit is kept to a minimum.

    In the small Somerset town of Frome (where I call home), we are fortunate enough to house the UK’s first community fridge. This innovate idea, introduced in 2016, was a response to the staggering amounts of food that are wasted each year in UK households, while millions of people are living in food poverty. You can read more about this project HERE. This fridge allows local businesses and individuals to share their surplus food; as summer rolls in, a glut of fruit and vegetables are bound to follow.

    While you may not have access to a community fridge, you may find that local gardening enthusiasts are willing to share their yield with you. Last year, a woman offered free rhubarb on a local Facebook selling page to anyone who wanted it; when I popped over to collect a bag, she told me she didn’t like eating it but enjoyed growing it - she was just pleased that it wasn’t going in the compost bin! Keep your eyes peeled for offers of free fruit as the seasons change and you may find the cost of production dramatically decreases!

    The BBC Goodfood website offers an excellent seasonality table if you’re unsure about what’s in and what’s not.

    Should I add sugar?

    A current hot topic in the UK is the sugar tax. This recent levy on sugar has seen many producers slash the amount they add to their products. It has left rather a sour taste in many mouths as consumers begrudgingly adjust to the low sugar or sugar-free versions of their favourite soft drinks. While the tax is only applicable to certain beverages, it would seem only natural that this will gradually be enforced throughout the food and drink industry.

    I have noticed that many rumtopf recipes advocate the use of sugar; one website even suggests a 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar! These sorts of amounts will yield a sickly end-product. The only sugars you will need to rely on are natural fruit sugars; if you’ve bought ripe, seasonal fruit, you may only need to consider refined sugar as a ‘seasoning’.

    Why should I use ripe fruit?

    When considering buying fruit, it may need to ‘ripen at home’ or it may be ‘ready to eat’. These two types of produce fall under the headings of climacteric and non-climacteric fruit respectively.

    Climacteric fruit can ripen after it has been picked. The fruit has in increase in cellular respiration after it has been harvested, which allows unripe fruit time to be transported to the shops for purchase without the worry of it spoiling too quickly. A good example of this is the banana; you can buy it green and take it home to change to whatever ripeness you prefer. Bananas, like most fruit, produce ethylene; this ripening hormone is the reason that bananas make other fruit in your fruit bowl ripen more quickly!

    Non-Climacteric fruit must only be picked when ripe, as it requires the plant to do so. Examples of non-climacteric fruit are strawberries and grapes.

    Like most people, I automatically feel and smell fruit before I buy it. If it is hard and scent-less, I instinctively know it’s not ripe. If it’s soft to touch and has fragrant skin, I associate this with ripeness. The structure of fruit is made up of complex sugars (polysaccharides) like cellulose. As fruit ripens, these structural sugars break down into smaller sugars (monosaccharides); therefore, ripe fruit has a softer feel. The riper the fruit, the more the structural sugars have degraded and the softer and sweeter it will be. These natural sugars (glucose and fructose) are much better alternatives to refined sugar.

    Rumtopf Recipe

    So, taking everything above into consideration, my recipe is as follows:

    • A rumtopf (view our discounted products HERE)
    • Cling film
    • A mixture of ripe hard and soft fruits (pears, pineapple, cherries, plums – you decide!)
    • Dark, spiced rum (any brand), with a high alcohol percentage (50%+)
    • Sugar (to taste)

    Before starting, I will mention that it is not generally recommended that you use berries and soft fruits like strawberries. These very soft fruits will disintegrate during the maturing process and leave you with a slurry rather than a fine liquor.

    1. Wash your vessel in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly. You can use any container with a good seal on the top (for example, a large Kilner jar) but a traditional ceramic rumtopf is best.
    2. Take your fruit, rinse it, and cut into bite-sized pieces, approximately 1-inch cubes. You want it to retain its shape whilst it steeps in the alcohol.
    3. Layer your fruit in the base of the rumtopf. I recommend you sample the fruit to gauge how sweet it is. Add a pinch of sugar, if necessary.
    4. Top up with rum until it’s completely covered. The rum needs to have a high alcohol percentage to preserve the fruit. We have used a combination of two-thirds basic 40% spiced rum and a bottle of overproof rum with a percentage of 75-80%. This brings the average percentage to over 50%. You can of course use all overproof rum, but it could get quite expensive!
    5. Once you’ve finished the layer(s), seal your rumtopf. If you’re using a Kilner, it may have a good rubber seal. A traditional rumtopf won’t have a seal, so put a layer of cling film over the top. Pull it taut, but with enough slack to put the ceramic lid back on.
    6. Store your rumtopf in a cool place to mature.

    You can top it up as and when you get the new layers. Repeat instructions 2 to 6 until the rumtopf is full. As you add each layer, you can try a teaspoon of the liquor to check the sweetness as it matures.

    You will need to leave the rumtopf to mature until the winter. Traditionally, it is opened over the festive period. Some people suggest opening on Advent, others on Christmas Eve. Open it when you want to and make your own tradition!

    Rumtopf is best served with vanilla ice-cream and waffles; we’ll revisit this topic and divulge the waffle recipe in December when we open the rumtopf!

    Please note: this article contains affiliate links.

  • Corking Cleaning Concept - How to clean cork lids on retro storage jars

    T. G. Green 'Granville' Design Tea Canister A classic T. G. Green 'Granville' Design Tea Canister

    I recently bought some nice T. G. Green ‘Granville’ storage jars with their original cork lids. These pieces looked as though they’d not been washed since the day they’d been made! The ceramic jars were easy enough to clean in the washing-up bowl. The lids were so dirty, that they required a bit more thought.  After a bit of trial and error, I found a great cleaning method for even the dirtiest of cork.

    What is cork?

    Cork is basically tree bark; the layer of dead protective cells found on the outside of a tree trunk. The primary source of commercially processed cork is Quercus Suber, or the cork oak. It is sustainable and environmentally friendly, as the tree is not harmed during the harvesting of the bark. It is also very versatile, which is why you’ll see it used in so many different industries.

    Cork is hydrophobic, which means that it repels water. The strong cellular structure of the bark allows it to retain a very high percentage of air, which makes it lightweight (hence its buoyancy). This durable membrane also prevents the absorption of water, rendering it impermeable; this prevents degeneration when used in humid environments such as kitchens.

    Another useful quality of cork caused by the cellular structure is its elasticity. No matter how much pressure is exerted on it, cork will return to the original shape. This creates an airtight seal when used in wine bottling, and for storage jars and canisters.

    How do I clean cork?

    Microfibre cloth and plain bar of soap It's as simple as soap and water!

    While cork does not absorb dust, it can get coated in a layer of grease and grime when sat around in a kitchen. Many vintage canisters and storage jars have been heavily used and handled, adding to the build-up. This makes them less hygienic over time, and they can begin to look quite unsightly.

    Cleaning them is really quite simple, and you’re bound to have the necessary bits already sitting in your kitchen cupboards!

    You’ll need the following items:

    • A bar of plain, scent-free hand soap.
    • A microfibre cloth.
    • Clean, warm water.
    • A tea towel.

     

    Cork lids before cleaning Yuck! As you can see, these lids are caked in decades of dirt and grime.

    This first image shows the lids side by side; you can barely see the cork beneath the dirt. This cork is known as agglomerated; it has been man-made from smaller pieces of cork that have been bound together and moulded or extruded. For this reason, I would not recommend using harsh chemicals, as you do not know how they may react with the adhesive in it.

    I wetted and then rung out the microfibre cloth, so that it was just damp. I then rubbed it onto the soap bar to get a thin film of soap on the cloth. I opted for plain, fragrance-free hand soap for three reasons:

    1. Fragranced soap may leave a scent that could taint the contents of the jar after cleaning.
    2. Plain soap should not leave any marks or discolour the cork.
    3. Hand soap is mild but effective at removing grease and dirt.
    4. Good if you’re sensitive to harsh cleaning products.

    When applying the soap to the cork, I recommend doing it in a circular motion, whilst applying gentle pressure. Don’t scrub it; the agglomerated pieces may crumble if you rub it too hard and in the same direction. Circular motions also mean you’ll get into the crevices of the cork, where dirt and dust have settled. A microfibre cloth has a good textured finish, which will help with agitating the dirt from the surface. You’ll need to rinse your cloth regularly, so as not to spread any loose dirt around. It may take several goes but within a short space of time you’ll notice a huge difference.

    Cork lids during cleaning After just a few minutes, you'll notice a huge difference in the appearance of the cork (and the colour of your cloth!)

    If you find that you have a more ingrained stain or some discolouration, this can be removed by gently rubbing the stain with a fine sandpaper. Don’t forget to wear a protective face mask, and bear in mind that cork dust is very flammable!

    Once you’re happy with it, give the cork a quick rinse under the tap and then gentle towel dry it. Although the cork does not absorb moisture, it is vital that you allow the piece to air dry before using it again. The surface moisture could provide a breeding ground for mould; I suggest placing it in a warm, ventilated place (I put it on a warm radiator) for 24 hours.

    Both cork lids cleaned Good as new!

    Et voila! Rejuvenated at no cost and with very little effort. You wouldn’t believe it was the same lid!

  • Sass & Belle Cactus Bag Competition Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions for the prize draw are as follows:

    1. To enter, simply follow our Twitter page (@AntiquesLegacy), like the competition post, and retweet it.
    2. The giveaway starts on 04/02/18 and will end on 25/02/18 at 9pm GMT.
    3. Three winners will be drawn at random using Tweetdraw on 25/02/18 and announced on Twitter at 9.30pm on 25/02/18.
    4. The prize is one Sass & Belle Cactus Folding Shopping Bag per winner.
    5. Entry is available worldwide - we will ship the bag to you using Royal Mail.
    6. Once the winners have been announced on Twitter, we will DM you to arrange shipping details for your prize. If you cannot provide these details within 48 hours of the draw then we will draw another winner.

    Sass & Belle Cactus Shopping Bag

  • How to Buy and Sell at Auction

    I attended my first auction at ten days old. In the thirty years that have since passed, a lot has changed. The advent of the internet has made buying and selling at auction easier than ever before. Despite this, many people are still hesitant to visit or take part in a classic ‘in the room’ auction.

    Wessex Novice Night Auction Booklet Resized If you're lucky enough to have an auction who hosts a 'Novice Night', you should definitely attend. There's so much to learn!

    Recently, I was lucky enough to attend an ingenious ‘Novice Night’ at Wessex Auction Rooms, hosted by the co-owner Tim Weeks (of Bargain Hunt fame). The turn out was fantastic, which made me realise that so many people still find auctions daunting. In this guide, I aim to explain the ins and outs of buying and selling at auction, as well as dispelling the myths surrounding this timeless sales platform.

    I find auctions intimidating – I don’t know where to start.

    The most common reason I’ve heard from those who have yet to experience the thrill of auctions is that they find them intimidating. So many people are concerned that they’ll ‘go mad’ and overspend, or accidentally buy something they didn’t want with an inadvertent hand gesture. Below I have answered some questions pertaining to auctions.

    • Can I trust the auctioneer?

    Yes! The auctioneer primarily works for the vendor and will always prioritise those who have entrusted them with their goods. It is in the auctioneer’s best interests to maximise the prices realised by the lots; after all, they have bills to pay too! On the flip side, it would be very short-sighted for an auctioneer to drive up the prices, as the buyer would never come back.

    • Do valuers get everything right?

    No! They are only human. Generally, auction houses will have a good all-round knowledge of antiques and collectible items but will always have a speciality subject. For example, Tim specialises in collectible toys and games, and their five annual specialist toy auctions are quite an event.

    • Do you have to be silent?

    Not in my experience. Auctions are something of a sensory overload. You’ll have the bustle and chatter of the crowd, the flurry of the bidding process, and the bang of the gavel. Many people may know each other, so this creates quite a social atmosphere. While it is respectful not to be boisterous, you don’t have to treat it like a library.

    • Are auctions only for adults?

    No. Most auctions will certainly allow well-behaved children and dogs. It is a great place to encourage children to take an interest in history and design. My siblings and I regularly attended auction houses as children, and I have fond memories of being immersed in the atmosphere created by the room. Where dogs are concerned, it is always worth checking with the venue first.

    • If I scratch my nose, will I spend thousands?

    No. An auctioneer knows what is and what isn’t a bid. They’ve got a lot of experience! If they aren’t sure, they may ask you just to confirm. With their more frequent buyers, they’ll be used to their bidding mannerisms, no matter how strange.

    How do I know who to go to?

    If you were to do an online search for auction houses in your area, you may find quite a few.

    Wessex Auction Rostrum and Sale Room Top: The rostrum where the auctioneer(s) will take a seat and commence the sale. Bottom: Just one part of a packed 800+ lot auction ready to take place.

    How do you know who to choose? Nowadays, many places will have customer reviews available through Google or their own closed platform on their website. However, the best way to decide which place suits you is to get out there and visit them. Another way of whittling down your options is to decide on why you’re going. General browsing is great if you’re not looking for anything specific, but if your parameters are narrower, like you want a Lalique bowl, you may have to attend a 20th century arts auction. I’ll talk more about this later.

    Buying at auction

    The process of buying at auction has several stages. I have broken it down below, explaining the importance of each part.

    • Attending the preview.

    It is important to try and get to the viewing day. That way, you’re able to carefully check over items you’re interested in. You never know – you might spot something else!

    • Keep your cool.

    If you find something you like, or a real gem in a box of junk, don’t freak out. Drawing attention to yourself and therefore your desired pieces might become a costly mistake! My father used to be followed around auctions, and was aware that other bidders would watch what he was taking in interest in. One day, accompanied by a friend, they decided to play with these people. They found a box of utter rubbish - I mean, worthless. They jumped up and down, making excited noises, rummaging, and then proceeding to whisper and shove a random piece to the bottom of the box. Not only did a handful of people proceed to rifle through the box, but it made a ridiculous price at auction.

    • Make notes.

    You may want to take pictures or jot down some notes about prospective purchases. This could include dimensions, design, contents, or damage. You can then use this information to help you research and decide on a price you’re prepared to pay. It is worth remembering that most auctions don’t PAT test electricals, and that this will be up to the buyer. You’ll want to factor that in to your price, as electricians don’t come cheaply.

    • The big day.

    It’s the day of the auction – make sure you get there in a timely fashion! Not only will you want to get a prominent position in the room, but you can use the extra time to inspect your lots again. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for unscrupulous bidders to move lots around, or even to pinch things. Even if you don’t get a front row seat, the porters will be holding lots up for the crowd to view, as well as many items being shown on screens for bidders to see more clearly.

    • Don’t be afraid to register.

    Bidding is not compulsory when attending an auction. It is always worth filling in a bidding form, just in case you fancy a punt. You can register for a single visit, or if you intend to attend on a regular basis, you may be able to have the bidding number permanently allocated.

    • Check when your lots are up.

    Auctioneers will organise the lots into relevant sections. In the words of Tim Weeks, ‘…those interested in diecast are not interested in dolls.’ An average 800 lot auction can last around 10 hours; don’t worry, you’re not expected to stay in your seat the whole time! You can nip in and out if there are substantial gaps between your lots. Alternatively, if you’ve finished bidding, you can go to reception to settle the bill.

    Have you worked out your maximum bid? Can you stick to it? As previously mentioned, there are several factors to consider when deciding on your maximum bid amount. Another is considering the auction fees – you don’t want to be surprised by the bill at the end. Auctioneers tend to bid up incrementally; don’t be afraid to jump in with your own bid if you want to. For example, if the bidding is at £25 and the next bid is £30, you could try £28 if you think your rival may not go any further! I will discuss types of bidding later on.

    • Settling up.

    Congratulations – you’ve just bought something at auction! What do you do now? Well, head on over to the reception and give them your buyers number. The auctioneer will have jotted your number next to any lots you’ve purchased during the course of the auction. This is then fed back to reception who are then able to generate the bills. Check your invoice to make sure all of your lots are accounted for, and then pay. It’s worth remembering that while most credit and debit cards are accepted, as well as cash, most places won’t accept cheques. The payment will have to clear before the lots are collected.

    You can’t just grab your lot and go. It would be chaos! Once you’ve visited reception and paid your bill, you take your receipt into the saleroom and hand it to a porter. They will get your items for you; this saves on any mix-ups. Once this is done and you’re happy with your purchases, both parties will sign the paperwork to confirm receipt of goods.

    If you can’t collect on the day, then have a chat with the auction house about making alternative arrangements. The key here is communication; they are happy to be flexible if you discuss it with them first. However, due to their high-volume turn over, items should really be collected within a week from the sale date.

    Another more recent development in many auction houses, fuelled by the use of online bidding via platforms such as The Saleroom, is the offer of worldwide shipping. The auction house wants to ensure there are no hurdles that would put potential bidders off, and distance can be a factor.

    Selling at auction

    Selling at auction differs to buying in several ways. I have detailed the points below.

    • What should I take?

    It’s always advisable to get all items checked by an auction valuer. You never know what treasure they may uncover! ‘That’s what we do all day’, says Tim. They can turn your trash into (sometimes serious) cash. For example, one gentleman dropped in to the auction house on the way to the local rubbish dump. He had some old Scalextric that he’d cleared out of his house, and decided he’d just check that this really was rubbish that should be disposed of. It turned out they could fetch quite a good sum and ended up in a specialist toy auction.

    • Where should I sell?

    Your auctioneer will discuss your options with you regarding how your items should be sold. You want to make sure they make the most of your items. If something will do better elsewhere, they ought to tell you. However, a good auctioneer will be able to work their magic with what you give them. In addition, they have the contacts to really promote your items effectively and will often have a list of specialist buyers they can alert to items of interest. All auctions will have specialist sales and it’s well-worth taking full advantage of these.

    • Reserve or no reserve?
      Wessex Auction Entry Form This is an example of what you can expect to see on an auction entry form. You'll see that the lots include a reserve price.

    Your valuer will give you their professional opinion as to the potential price your objects could achieve at auction. They may even ask you if you’d like to put a reserve on it.

    There are two types of reserve – ‘fixed’ and ‘discretionary’.

    A ‘fixed’ reserve means that there is no flexibility. If an item is valued at £30-£50 and you put a reserve of £30 on it, it cannot be sold for under the reserve price.

    A ‘discretionary’ reserve gives the auctioneer the leeway to accept a lower bid if it will ensure a sale. It is normally set at 10% less than the reserve price. For example, if your reserve is set at £30, the auctioneer will be able to accept a bid of £27.

    Auctioneers generally feel that reserved items can be more difficult to sell; if the reserve is set quite high, then it may prove tricky to achieve. However, if you absolutely cannot bear to part with something under a certain price then you should consider a reserve.

    • Is there a good or bad time to sell?

    Years ago, the summer holidays were officially an awful time to sell. Most people were spending their money on days at the beach and ice-cream, not furniture and bric-a-brac! However, the introduction of online platforms and smart phones has meant that the whole experience is portable. That, and the piqued interest in all things vintage, has encouraged more people to join in wherever they are. Nowadays, there’s no time to sell like the present.

    • What can I do to maximise my money?

    An auctioneer will do their best with what you give them. The more background you have on something, the more chance it has of doing well. For example, if you take in a mechanical object, you should tell them whether or not it works. The same goes for battery-operated goods; they are not obliged to test every item and will have to sell it ‘as seen’. This gives no guarantees and will potentially stunt the bidding. If they know the mechanism is working, they could even make a video for the online bidders to see.

    The same can be said for provenance. If you take them a table, it may be worth once price. If you take them a table and can prove it belonged to Charles Dickens, then that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Most people love a bit of history surrounding an object.

    Types of bidding

    There are four types of bidding available to a buyer – in the room, commission, telephone, and online.

    • In the room.
      Wessex Bidding Card and Commission Bidding Form Top: A classic example of a bidding card. Below: A commission bid form, including details of them items you're planning to bid on.

    Truly the best way to bid (and enjoy the whole experience) is in person. You just register at reception and away you go. This is definitely the simplest and most reliable bidding method.

    • Commission bidding.

    This allows the buyer to leave their maximum bid with the auctioneer so that they can act on their behalf. Some people may be concerned that they’ll be bid up to their maximum – a good auctioneer will no do this! If you leave a bid of £200 for a lot valued at £50-£80, the auctioneer will start at the lower estimate. They will continue the bidding as usual. Sometimes you may be lucky that you’ll get something for far less than you anticipated, and other times you may pay your top-end. You may even be outbid entirely.

    • Telephone bidding.

    This is better for a more experienced auction-goer. To qualify for telephone bidding, you’ll need to fill in a telephone bidding form and ensure that you’re available during the auction. A member of the team will contact you just before your lot is up for sale and relay word-for-word what the auctioneer is saying. You can then give them your bid verbally, which they can pass on to the auctioneer.

    • Online bidding.

    This is a great way to bid for your lots remotely. You can browse the catalogues online and view or participate in auctions occurring live across the country. Companies such as The Saleroom use live audio and video feed to allow bidders to see the auction in real time. One possible downfall to online bidding is the potential to lose connection if you’re out and about.

    There are additional fees involved when bidding through an online third party. You will need to take these into consideration when working out your maximum bid.

    Fees

    Auction fees can seem quite daunting at first glance, but once you understand how they work and how to calculate them it’ll become second nature to your auction trading process. I have explained them below.

    • Buying fees.

    Buyers are subject to a ‘buyer’s premium’, which is worked out in the following way:

    Hammer price + 17% of hammer price + VAT.

    Depending on the kind of auction you go to, there may be VAT on the hammer price too. However, at Wessex Auction Rooms, the VAT is included within the hammer price. In this case, the VAT is only payable on the auction’s 17% ‘service charge’.

    So, if you buy something for £100 it would work out as follows:

    Hammer price (£100) + 17% of hammer price (£17) + VAT on hammer price at 20% (£3.40)

    This brings the total to £120.40. There are £20.40 of fees on a £100 purchase.

    If you use an online bidding facility, they’ll charge around 3% on top plus VAT. It is worth checking what they charge beforehand. This will not go to the auction house but directly to the third party.

    • Selling fees.

    When selling at auction, you are paying a ‘commission rate’ to the auction house. It works out as follows:

    (15% of hammer price plus VAT) + (1% insurance plus VAT) + (£3 lotting fee plus VAT)

    As this is a service that the auction house is providing, it is all subject to VAT. Therefore, if you sell something for £100 it works out like this:

    £100 – [15% hammer price plus VAT = £18)] – [1% plus VAT (£1.20)] – [£3 lotting fee plus VAT (£3.60)] = £77.20.

    This brings the total gained from a £100 sale to £77.20, where the commission rate totals £22.80.

    It is worth noting that the rates vary from auction to auction, so this is a rough guide based on one venue.

    What do they do for all these fees?

    In my opinion, you’re getting a good deal when going through an auction. You’re paying for a wealth of expertise and services you can’t just download and use for yourself. The knowledge gained from years of experience to make that appraisal, the time and effort put in to photographing, researching, and cataloguing, listing the products online, and making the phone calls to their punters to stimulate interest. Not to mention all of the work that goes in on the actual sale day.

    Are they secure?

    Many people may be put off using an auction house because of security. What if an item is stolen? I mean, there are people around all of the time. I have compiled a list of points that should hopefully put your mind at ease.

    • Cameras

    Nowadays, there are cameras all over the place; the cost of running them will be a part of that 1% insurance (+ VAT) you pay as a seller. These are a great deterrent and will allow the auction house to keep a vigilant eye on their saleroom.

    • Entry

    The auction room is strictly off limits to the public until the preview and auction days.

    • Jewellery and small objects

    On a viewing day, a good auction house will ensure that there is one porter available per person. If there are more people than porters, they will have to wait their turn. In addition, no small valuables are left out on display as they would be vulnerable to theft.

    • Damage

    In the unfortunate event that your object is damaged while in the care of the auction house, they will offer you the guide price. Therefore, if an item is valued at £30-£50, they’ll give you £50. If you are unhappy with this then the matter will be escalated to the insurance company. It is worth remembering that insurers take the ‘market value’ of an object when assessing a claim; since the market value is dictated by achieved auction prices, you may not get any more than the initial settlement offer.

    Hopefully this guide has helped to unravel the mysteries surrounding auction houses, and now you’re eager to get down to the next viewing or appraisal day!

    A huge thanks to Tim Weeks and Martin Hughes at Wessex Auction Rooms for their input with this piece.

  • How to Safeguard Your Antiques from Theft

    The Telegraph recently published an article detailing the increases seen in theft, burglary, and robberies over the festive period. In some cases, these crimes have soared by around 20% on the previous year; worse still, many of these criminals are not apprehended or charged for these offences.

    The winter months tend to bring with them a greater volume of crime. The long, dark evenings provide cover for burglars, as well as the fact that many properties are left unoccupied while owners celebrate the season with friends and family. This peak continues into January, as the newly-acquired gifts are left at home when families return to school or work.

    Although the latest tech and gadgets are obvious targets, many of them can only be accessed with a registered fingerprint or, in the case of the iPhone X, using facial recognition. These features can render a product useless when in the wrong hands. In the case of antiques and collectibles though, there is still a great market for these stolen goods. Unfortunately, as owners do not always catalogue their possessions, it can prove near impossible to repatriate these items in the event of their theft.

    Immobilise was set up in 2003 and, with the full cooperation of the Police, central government, and the mobile phone industry, has become the largest free property register in the world. You can read more about Immobilise HERE. In conjunction with the NMPR (National Mobile Property Register) and CheckMEND, they unite to help reduce crime and increase the chances of property being returned to the rightful owners.

    I first became aware of Immobilise in around 2004-2005, and set up an account immediately. Over the years, it has updated and upgraded the way you add your goods, including offering a selection of affordable marking products. When used simultaneously with your online account, you can register any number of items of varying types; if the worst should happen, you have done all you can to ensure their swift return.

    As I have already mentioned, Immobilise offers this service for FREE. To keep this valuable resource active, it relies on retailers, the Police, and councils to raise awareness. I have chosen to trial two of their marking products, namely the ImmobiMARK and the newly released Immobidot.

    The ImmobiMARK

    The ImmobiMARK kit is a basic property marking kit available at a very affordable price. The UV pen and small UV torch allow you to inconspicuously mark products that do not have serial numbers or labels. In addition, the window stickers and serial numbered warning tags offer an extra deterrent. There are also some key rings that allow you to register your keys online.

    The Immobidot

    Since the Immobidot was released back in November 2017, I have been intrigued to find out more about it. Forensic marking of property steps the game up a notch, offering undeniable proof of ownership. Although the kit is more expensive than the Immobimark, the estimated 1,000 microdots suspended within the solution ought to go a long way. This pack also includes window stickers and warning labels, as per the Immobimark.

    I requested to trial both products as they are advertised as being ideal for marking ‘antiques’, amongst other things.

    To give a clear idea of efficacy, I have chosen several different mediums from across the collecting spectrum. Both products are tried on the same piece to offer a comparison. You can view these comparisons below - all images will enlarge when clicked.

    CERAMICS

    As you can see, the ImmobiMARK pen shows no trace on the glaze until it is lit with the UV light. At that point, the code assigned to it is very prominent. The Immobidot, on the other hand, is visible on close scrutiny, even once it has dried. 

    GLASS

    The ImmobiMARK does not show at all in normal lighting conditions. When subjected to UV light, it reflects well (it would be clearer if the room was darker). The Immobidot, although more obvious when wet, dries to appear like pieces of frit in the glass - something you come to expect with older or handmade pieces. In this respect, it isn't particularly obvious.

    METAL

    You wouldn't believe that the shell casing had been written on with a pen. It is not remotely visible. However, when you shine the UV light on it, the code becomes clear. The Immobidot is unsurprisingly visible when wet, but dries to look like flecks on the base; something you might associate with wear and tear.

    PAINTINGS/PICTURES

    It's a little more complicated with pictures and paintings. The ImmobiMARK pen seeps in to the porous back and then when flashed with the UV light does not appear as sharply. This could be remedied by writing on the front of the glass. The Immobidot is very noticeable when wet, and dries to a clear, glossy finish. Although this is obvious, if there are a few marks or pieces of tape on the back then would anyone think twice?

    PLASTIC

    Plastic objects are fast becoming collectibles, and there are so many types to consider. Original pressings of CDs, like this 1982 Kim Wilde 'Select' album, are just one example. You may have multiple components; you will therefore have to mark each piece with the same code. The ImmobiMARK is invisible without UV on both parts.

    The Immobidot solution dries to form a rather obvious mark on the inside of the CD case. While it hasn't damaged the plastic jewel case, this 'blemish' appears quite visible.

    STONE

    Marble and stone objects come at quite a price. This Art Deco garniture vase has a marble-clad base. Although marble is known to be porous (like most types of stone), the ImmobiMARK pen marked it well and not-at-all obviously. The Immobidot solution dries clear with just the small microdots visible; given the imperfections and striations through rock, can you tell?

    WOOD

    Wood is a difficult one. Like the painting images above, the dry and porous nature of the wood means that any marks show up. The ImmobiMARK dried and left the code showing! The Immobidot, although obvious, is more forgiving. It could be mistaken for residual wax or varnish.

    SUMMARY

    The ImmobiMARK pen has a nice average-sized nib, suitable for various sizes of product. It writes very clearly (although you can’t see it without the UV light!); I would recommend making sure you have adequate gaps between your digits to ensure the number is clearly reflected. As you can see, most writing is entirely invisible without the use of a UV light. It is most effective when used on smooth, clear surfaces, as it leaves no trace – I found it to be incredibly effective on glass and ceramic pieces. I would not recommend using it on porous objects, such as wood or paper. The ink soaks in and bleeds outwards, as you can see from the pictures of the wood. It also does not fade from these pieces, and the number is clearly visible to anyone; not at all inconspicuous! It is also much harder to read with the UV light, as the digits don’t have a crisp outline. Although the packing does not specifically mention furniture, it does state ‘antiques’. Despite this, I opted to try it just to show the outcome.

    One concern I had was how durable the ink would be. The last thing you want is to mark up your whole collection and then find that simply handling it will smudge or remove your codes! Testing the glass tankard, I found that rubbing a dry finger over the area that the ink had been applied did nothing. I then tried wetting my finger and rubbing it. Still, this had no affect on the ink. I then opted to wash the tankard in warm, soapy water and wipe it over with a sponge. Approximately half of the code was washed off. I would recommend that if you clean your collection every now and again that you double check that the codes are still readable. If necessary, reapply them. Eventually, I was able to remove the whole code with the help of a solvent (acetone). As with any solvent, you must make sure you use it in a well-ventilated area and that you try it in an inconspicuous place first – you don’t want to damage any finish.

    The Immobidot solution is contained within a small plastic vial with an application brush within the lid. It has the consistency of PVA glue, within which the microdots are suspended. Although it is obvious when it is first applied, like PVA it dries to produce a clear but glossy finish. The only thing then visible are the microdots but, at 1mm in diameter, they are not immediately apparent. Although it is potentially more visible on clear, smooth surfaces, I believe you’d have to be scrutinising it to find it. It is suitable for application on all surfaces, including wood and paper. Owing to the glossy nature of the product once dry, it can be seen on drier surfaces (see photographs). 

    Durability wise, once dry it has a firm but slightly rubbery texture, much like glue. When the glass tankard was washed in warm soapy water and cleaned with a sponge, the dried solution didn’t budge. To that end, it can only be removed by physically picking it off. This is slightly easier on smooth surfaces, but porous surfaces will have absorbed it more deeply and therefore it is harder to remove. You can be confident that once you’ve applied it, it’s going nowhere without a fight. It is worth noting that in a warm room it took about 90 minutes before it was completely dry on all surfaces; perhaps I was overgenerous in my application, but I would recommend avoiding handling items for a little while once they’ve been marked.

    Whichever product you choose, the most important part of the process is registering your goods online with an Immobilise account. You can sign up for one HERE. They have great instructions to ensure that listing your items is a painless process. Although the ImmobiMARK comes with some serial numbers, you can create your own system. The Immobidot vial has a unique serial number and bar code on the label, which you register to your account so that any items found with that microdot can be attributed to you. When marking your products, it may be worth considering cataloguing your collection. You can read our guide HERE

    With thanks to the nice people at Recipero who allowed me to try out these products.

  • Legacy Antiques joins the FSB

    FSB Member Logo

    I am delighted to announce that we at Legacy Antiques and Collectibles Ltd have recently joined the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses).

    The FSB is a non-profit organisation, who aim to help small businesses grow and achieve their ambitions. They are non-party political, and are experts in campaigning and lobbying in Westminster for small businesses.

    You can read more about them HERE.

  • Flea Bitten: So you've caught the car-boot bug?

    I have spent my whole life going to flea markets and car-boot fairs. To me, a Sunday is not a day of rest; on the contrary, it is the start of my working week.

    Over the years, as the demand for the second-hand markets has soared, I have fine-tuned my buying skills and gathered an assortment of ‘tools’ that assist me in my market moseying.

    In this article, I will give you my top-tips for surviving a flea market or car-boot fair.

    Money. Most people will have been to a cash point on the way to the market, and are unlikely to have much change. This means that many unprepared vendors will be out of change early on. If you can plan ahead, try to visit your bank to withdraw smaller denominations. Change is vital.

    Early start. At one stage I used to get up at 4am and try to be at my first fair around 6am. In more recent years, I have found that many dealers are out at this time and that their attitudes can be less than pleasant! Diving into the back of a seller’s car as they are trying to unpack it will get you nowhere. The benefits of a very early start are that you are likely to find some great bargains. Quite often though, it takes time for the market to get going, so getting there when everything is set up may make for a smoother browsing experience. Nowadays, I tend to do 2-3 markets in a morning, getting to my first at around 7.30am.

    Transport. More likely than not, you’re going in your car. Top up your fuel beforehand to give yourself plenty of time in the morning. If you have a roof rack, maybe think about attaching it (or tightening it up) if you’re looking to buy larger items. Make sure that your car is clear; you don’t want to find you can’t get your new treasures in because your car is full of junk!

    Pair of Dr Martens Willow pattern boots - perfect for wandering a flea market! Not all comfy footwear is boring!

    Comfy shoes. If you’re like me, you march around a market with determination; I will find those bargains! However, all those steps can take a toll on your feet. I recommend wearing durable shoes, like trainers or boots, so that you don’t suffer too much afterwards. It isn’t a fashion show – although, it can be! It is also worth considering they type of weather or terrain you’re covering; trainers may be OK for a covered market, but a spring car-boot fair in a field may require wellington boots.

    Packing and wrapping. Since the implementation of the 5p bag charge in the UK, the number of people giving away bags at car-boot fairs and markets has declined. Although they are useful, and in their own way are being recycled, it makes much more sense to BYOB (bring your own bags). Over the years, I have acquired around 20 excellent reusable bags of varying sizes that never fail me when lugging my cargo back to my vehicle.

    Another great storage solution is using folding crates. I was fortunate enough to be given a dozen by a friend who had pulled them from a skip! They will sit in the boot or footwell of your car until you need them. You can repack in to them if you don’t have an abundance of bags.

    It is best not to assume that all vendors are prepared. If you’re planning on buying breakables, it is vital to keep a stack of newspapers and bubble-wrap that you can take with you. There’s nothing more disappointing than getting a bargain and finding it hasn’t survived the journey home.

    Tools. Depending on your ‘hunting’ preferences, you may have use for more refined tools. Specialist reference books, a jeweller's eyepiece, or even a UV torch may come in handy. You can click our affiliate links to view some of these products online.

    A collection of pieces you may find useful when browsing a flea market Don't forget to take your essentials with you!

    A good attitude. My final tip, but the most important one. Engage with the vendors. Say hello. Ask them how their day is going. It will be a long morning without a bit of chit-chat. The benefits of banter go a long way; you may be more successful in your negotiating. You may also find that the seller is more inclined to be helpful. On numerous occasions, I have been invited to browse pieces that have not yet been unpacked or offered for sale.

    I hope that you found these hints and tips useful; if you’re anything like me you’ll be itching to get to your next flea market! Don’t forget to keep enough change for that well-earned cup of tea and bacon sandwich at the end.

  • How to Manage Your Collection

    I am a member of several online groups relating to glass, pottery, and porcelain. I enjoy looking at other people’s collections, admiring rarities, and learning about more unusual pieces. Recently, a member posted a question asking others how they document their collections; after all, some of these people have thousands of pieces. I was astonished by how few people did keep a record of their acquisitions; of those that did, many kept old-fashioned hand-written ledgers. A considerable number of those who responded seemed unsure about how to set up a system on their computer that would assist them in maintaining their collectibles.

    I have been managing over half a dozen databases and spreadsheets for Legacy Antiques for over 12 years now. Although it would not traditionally be considered a ‘collection’, I feel that I may be able to offer some guidance relating to documenting your valuables and the benefits surrounding it.

    Why do I need to document my collection?

    You don’t, but you should. There are a few reasons it is beneficial to catalogue your possessions. I have detailed these below.

    1. Efficiency.If your collection is so vast that much of it is packed away, digitally archiving it is a great to ensure that you can ‘see’ everything you have, even if you can’t lay your hands on a piece straight away. This saves time and money as you can avoid spending extra on pieces you already own but have forgotten about.
    2. Insurance. Many insurance companies will require in-depth information when considering a claim for any items, including receipts, photographs, value, proof of ownership, etc. By keeping a digital log of your pieces, you are always prepared for those ‘worst case scenarios’.
    3. Proof of ownership. This is, in my opinion, the most important reason for cataloguing your property. Gadgets, such as TVs and smart phones, come with unique serial numbers, which can be registered on sites such as Immobilise to ensure a swift return if the item is recovered by the police after a theft. It is far more complicated if you are dealing with antiques and collectibles, but a database with detailed accounts of each piece would be hard to dispute if ownership was contested.
    4. Selling. Keeping detailed records of your collection will prove invaluable should you decide to sell some or all of it. Any provenance or details relating to a piece can be readily accessed, and will not only make selling easier, but may add value to your items.

    What can I catalogue?

    You can catalogue anything! Whether you collect 19th century ceramics, Whitefriars glass, vinyl, or retro computer games, you can (and should) catalogue it all. Even if it is not a collection, it is advisable to catalogue your home contents, particularly if you have expensive items that are at a considerable risk of theft.

    What information should I include?

    More detail from the beginning will mean easier searching and therefore less work overall. I have compiled a list of potential headings to include, and how to use them with the help of a demo product.

    1. Reference number. A reference number is especially important when dealing with lots of comparable items. This way you can ensure that each piece is easily distinguishable, and there will be no ‘mix ups’. You will also need a numbering system on your database as they require a ‘product key’; a unique number for each data entry. It is also much easier to search for a reference number on a database, than a string of words.
    2. Manufacturer / Artist. If you can accurately attribute your items, then this is an important detail. For example, classic 19th century transferware patterns have the same style name, i.e. ‘Willow’, but were produced by numerous factories.
    3. Pattern name or style. This is another high-ranking attribute, as many people collect a certain style, like Art Deco, or a pattern, like ‘Willow’.
    4. Date or Age. This information cannot always be ascertained, and sometimes you may have to make an educated guess. For example, a piece of stemware may have been in production for fifty years and the mark may narrow it down, two decades, so you may have to say, for example, 1970s to 1980s. Alternatively, some items may have an exact date of manufacture; perhaps using the diamond registration mark or be signed. This information, if accurate, is very useful in distinguishing between original and reproduction pieces.
    5. Colour. Many products come in a variety of colourways. Some collectors like to acquire all known colourways of a certain shape or style; for example, Wedgwood ‘Jasperware’ is frequently seen as the classic blue and white, but it is possible to find green and white, burgundy and white, pink and white, and navy and white.
    6. Type of product. If you collect a certain pattern or style, it may be useful to note down what type of product it is. If you only collect cups, then this may not be necessary, but if you collect items decorated with, for example, the ‘Greek Key’ pattern, you may want to document whether it is a glass, a ceramic bowl, or even a chair!
    7. It is helpful to distinguish what type of material has been used to make a piece. Items made from lead crystal are typically more valuable than their non-lead counterparts.
    8. Date of acquisition. This is quite useful in determining how long you’ve owned a certain piece, should that ever be called into question. It is also interesting to detail how long you’ve been collecting, and how your buying may have changed over time.
    9. Cost. It is undoubtedly sensible to keep digitised copies of your receipts, that you can then link to each item in your database. This backs up various other details on the database (such as date of acquisition), but more importantly offers hard proof of ownership. Obviously, in some cases, you may not have a receipt for something, if you’ve bought it at a car boot sale or from a private individual, for example. It is then worth making a note of where you bought it, the date, and how much you may have paid.
    10. Identifying features / damage. A comprehensive account of damage or imperfections is invaluable. These flaws are unique to a piece, and will assist in distinguishing one piece from another. You can make notes of these in the table, but it is best to accompany these with close-up photographs.
    11. Weight. This detail is commonly assessed when determining the authenticity or age of a product. Quite often, lighter pieces can represent later production times, or, in some cases, fakes or replicas. A good example of this would be Italian Bitossi ceramic animals, predominantly the horses. Older horses are heavier, with the larger size weighing in at a couple of kilos. Later pieces tend to be lighter due to a change of production method. As companies try to cut costs over time, due to the inflated prices of materials, you will find that pieces will become lighter and may even feel ‘cheaper’.

    Another point to make with weight is that handmade items often differ slightly across a batch. This offers a unique detail that is hard to dispute. It is worth investing in good digital scales if you feel this is an important attribute to record for your collection.

    1. Photographs. Photographs can tell you so much more than words can describe. It is vital to take detailed images of your items, with close-up shots of any distinguishing features, be they flaws, back stamps, engraved marks, or even damage. They all contribute to the overall ‘view’ of the piece, and will corroborate other data you’ve input.
    2. Dimensions. Dimensions can vary between pieces from the same range; this is especially true of handmade objects. For example, I once bought a pair of Dartington Crystal hock wine glasses in their original box, only to discover that there was a 5mm difference in height between the two. This discrepancy is due to inadequate quality control, but shows the potential differences you can encounter with handmade pieces. Measurements are also a great indicator of authenticity; commonly faked pieces, such as Whitefriars Glass and SylvaC will often be smaller all over due to replica moulds. It may be worth adding a ‘scale’ into your photographs; I prefer the traditional black and white kind, but a universally known object like a can of Coke can help give a sense of size if you can’t see it in the flesh.
    3. Description / Other Notes. Although you may have detailed many points in other parts of your database, it is worth having a ‘description’ or ‘notes’ section. It may be helpful to add details of damage, positioning of marks or signatures (if they’re hard to find) and any other valuable information.
    4. Market value. This is a more complicated point and will certainly fluctuate over time. If you have had items professionally appraised and valued, then this can be very useful to add in (a digitised copy of original documentation is best) to assist with selling or claiming on insurance.
    5. Location / Box Number. If you’re dealing with an ample collection, where many pieces are not on display, adding the location information is vital. After all, it’s no good setting up an archive if you can’t find it! At Legacy Antiques, every item is assigned and labelled with a stock reference number, and is packed in to a numbered stock box. This makes it incredibly easy to find pieces.

    It’s never too late to start cataloguing your collection. If you’re just starting out, it is a terrific way of learning about your pieces and studying them in greater detail. It will also get you into good habits, and, in time, will become a normal part of the collecting experience.

    To more seasoned collectors, it is an effective way of reviewing what you have, and perhaps why you have it. Our knowledge and tastes change over time, and what we bought 10 years ago may have long since been surpassed in quality by more educated purchases. It is also an excellent opportunity to revisit and reorganise your acquisitions.

    In recent years, great advances have been made in online digital or ‘cloud’ storage; Google Drive and Dropbox are just a couple of examples. With tablets and smartphones, you can now take your database out and about with you and access it remotely. This can prove very useful if you’re out buying more and want to avoid duplicates!

    We have produced a downloadable Google Spreadsheet, which is ready to be used to start cataloguing your collection. You can view it HERE. It includes a ‘demo’ product to illustrate how each category can be used. Once downloaded, you will be able to edit it as you see fit.

  • Order processing and shipping suspended from 16/10/17 to 01/11/17

    We will be undergoing some warehouse maintenance from Monday 16th October until Wednesday 1st November 2017.

    This work will affect order processing and shipping. No orders will be processed for shipping during these dates, with normal business resuming on Thursday 2nd November. All orders placed between 16/10/17 and 01/11/17 will be processed on 02/11/17 and shipped by 4.30pm GMT on 03/11/17.

    During this period, we will be offering our customers a chance to buy all items on the website and eBay store at a discounted rate. All purchases made between 16/10/17 and 01/11/17 are made in agreement with the above terms relating to delayed processing and shipping. If you do not agree to these terms then please do not make a purchase.

    Our standard terms and conditions are in effect once your parcel has been shipped.

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