Please remember you are NOT permitted to collect unessential items from the saleroom.
Following the Government’s guidelines on “essential travel only” we are not allowing collections of any items out of the Saleroom until restrictions are lifted. Please remember we can arrange free storage for items that have been paid for and provide in-house shipping for small non-breakable items.


Important Notice – COVID-19 23/3/2020

With the progression of the covid-19 epidemic and the tightening guidelines on self-isolation enforced by the government to help stop the spread of the infection we will be hosting tomorrows sale online only. In terms of collection post-sale you will need to call in advance to arrange a specified time as we will only be allowing one customer to collect at a time to help protect our staff and customers. If you have any more questions please call us on 01952825925 or email

17/04/19 NOTICE

Please be aware that this week we will not be collecting for general sale as it is antique sale set up.

we will be taking in for general sales again on the 24th and 25th of April

many thanks, Brettells

Christmas Opening Hours 2018

Brettells Christmas Opening Hours 2018

14/11/18 NOTICE

Please be aware that this week we will not be collecting for general sale as it is antique sale set up. 

many thanks, Brettells

The Showman

Throughout the years here at Brettells I have witnessed a multitude of weird and wonderful entries that grace the saleroom floor. From private entries to house clearances we have seen it all from a classic 1930’s Peugeot Torpedo 203 to a Victorian cast iron gas lamp from Trench railway station.

A key lesson to be learnt from working here at Brettells is that the imagination is the only real limitation in life, it is frankly unbelievable the craftsmanship of items that pass through the saleroom floor. it’s boggling to even comprehend how the items were crafted and the sheer history, passion, love and dedication that went into them.

Our recent antique sale did not disappoint with its mind scrambling complexity of craftsmanship with a rather special entry of showman organs. Here at Brettells we obtain a number of lots from deceased estates. It’s sad to see the contents of someone’s life, but it is a hard moralistically sobering fact that you can’t take it with you. However it can still be enjoyed, which I feel a fitting tribute to one’s memory.

Mr Brian Oliver had always had a spark for the showman’s life, from an early age he had a keen interest in the art form. From hand crafting puppets for his children his incredible talent and passion for crafting developed into building and restoring beautiful showman book playing organs. During the 1980’s after the passing of his wife and being in retirement Mr Oliver propelled himself into the fantastical world of restoring and showing these organs with great success.  Showing at countless events from village shows to the Black country museum raising money for Lucama. His passion became his life, filling not only his time with the things he loved but also his house. From kitchen to bedroom his workshop spanning the entirety of his house.

The pieces we had entered in the sale were incredible not only in scale and presentation but also in the personal flourishes cleverly integrated throughout each piece. Mr Oliver restored and built each piece by hand and with the help of his friend hand painted each and every one. This enabled the pieces to really embody his spirt and life. A prime example includes the hand painted backdrop he used when showing the organs. The backdrop depicts a Victorian street with figures. The street also features a number of different personalised signs named after the family members of Mr Oliver such as “Ann” and “Yvones fashion”. The backdrop also houses a music shop bottom right named after himself “Ollie the music man”.

The organs feature an array of decoration from the stunning hand made puppets on both the Cavalier Organ and the Allan Pell’s Organ. The organs also feature an array of highly skilled hand paintings such as the hand painted panels on ‘Ollie’s, Musical extravaganza’. All three of the pieces proudly present a badge in pride of place for the ‘Fair Organ Preservation Society’.

Mr Oliver was an incredibly talented and generous man and this indeed presents itself in the loving creations he made. Created for joy and happiness, Mr Oliver left behind a great legacy and I am sure this legacy will live on in these tremendous show organs that I’m sure will be used to spread happiness and joy for many years to come.


Rage against the machine and rage against the man

Featured in tomorrows weekly sale lot 16 an art nouveau brass circular dish together with a beaten copper arts and crafts influenced tray.

Arts and crafts was a stylistic movement that dated from 1880-1920. The movement was born from the backlash against industrialism. The industrial revolution (1820-1840), although a mechanical marvel had left Britain with quite a few damaging side effects due to the machine dominated production. These side effects not only left a mark on good but also on social conditions and was recognised around 1840. However, it wasn’t until 1860’s that the ‘Rage against the machine’ approach was championed in aid to correct the social and economic constraints. The movement idealed itself on the celebration of handcrafted goods such as furniture, textiles, metalwares, pottery, glass etc and the need for society to adopt a different way of manufacturing. The arts and crafts movement was heavily influenced by nature. Wood for example was used heavily during this period and almost always left unfinished.

Art nouveau coincide with the arts and crafts period during 1890 and 1910. Very much like the arts and craft movement shared a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences. Both the movement were heavily influenced by nature, however their paths of influence differ. As I have already stated arts and crafts was born throw the need to fix the production of manufacturing that was was causing constraints. However art Nouveau or ‘New Art’ was born through the rebellion of traditional art forms considered the first steps into the modern art world. Art nouveau can be distinguishable from its use of flowing S-curve or “whiplash” curves. This gesture is said to mark a break from constraints against the traditional art forms and signal the coming of modern design. The flow of art nouveau is considered a metaphor for artistic freedom. Art nouveau can also be identified through its curved, ornate and natural designs featuring insect wings, flowers, feathers and vines.


The Curse of the Crying Boy

In 1985 the Newspaper headline ‘The Curse of the Crying Boy’ (The Sun) circulated throughout the UK causing some what of blaze….of fear. The story in the Newspaper Mentioned a very bizarre story of a couple in Rotherham who blamed a cheap painting of a child for a fire which ransacked their home. The story goes that Although the house was destroyed by fire that the picture was completely undamaged. To add to the bizarreness of the story it is said that the victims brother, who was coincidently a firefighter, mentioned that his colleague knew of a number of accounts of similar cases. The sun reported in the follow up to the story that a numerous of readers too had shared the same experience as the couple in Rotherham. When another house displaying a “crying boy” painting (by a different artist, Anna Zinkeisen) burnt down, panic grew. A story about the fire had a brigade spokesperson claiming there was no cause for alarm, but adding, “These incidents are becoming more frequent.”

It is said that the original artist of the paintings mistreated the child model and according to Roy Vickery (secretary of the Folklore Society) the fire fires were the Childs vengeance act of revenge. Of course ‘The curse of the crying boy’ circulated widespread anxiety and a lot of of fearful inquires to the Sun were made from victims. In fact so many inquiries were made that the Sun team announce to the public that if they were concerned about a ‘crying boy’ print they owned, that they could send it to them and the sun would destroy the paining. thousands of paintings of the ‘crying boy’ were destroyed and even publicly in a Halloween burning. The public burning widely believed to have exorcised the ‘curse of the crying boy’.

So my fellow followers, friends and customers here is your chance to be part of ‘the curse of the crying boy’ lot 204 A Framed 1970’s, print of the crying boy after anna zinkeisen up for sale on Tuesday!

We would love to hear if the stories are true, but please remember you are buying at your own risk and we will not be responsible or liable for fire damages.


Paving the way – Victorian Tiles 2/04/18

Three weeks ago I set foot in a house that was a haven for the bizarre. The content of this eccentric clearance from Telford has been slowly filling our weekly sales over the last couple of weeks including the Victorian tiles that doused the walls. Last week we sold a collection of these tiles for £130! This week we have the last load of tiles and oh boy do we have some interesting ones! From Victorian transfers to some Art Nouveau examples. Of course with all these wonderful tiles I have to make a least one lot my featured lot of the week! So this week my featured lot is 335 A Box Containing Seven Dunnill Blue and White Calendar Tiles and a Quentin Durward Tile by Minton.

Here is a bit of information you may find of interest or pave the way to enlightenment on the subject

Tiles during the Victorian and Edwardian period were incredibly popular, not only fashionable they provided an array of hygienic purposes, adorning porches, bathrooms, hospitals to even fishmongers and butchers.

The tiles regarding my feature lot are created using the dust Pressing method, the compacting of powered clay in a hand press or steam operated press invented by Richard Prosser revolutionised the tile industry in 1840. This new method created tiles that were quicker to produce and more efficient than the early tiles made in plastic clay creating a smoother finish that were more uniform and unlikely to warp during the firing process. This method was quickly exploited by number of potters such as the Stafford potter Herbert Minton who bought a share of the patent.

Now with this more efficient method of tile production and the use of transfer printing tiles were able to be produced with ease in a number of designs and patterns that encapsulated a the full range of Victorian and Edwardian fashions.

From the 1840’s Minton, Craven Dunhill etc were the foremost manufactures of encaustic tiles. These tiles, such as the ones we have entered in our upcoming sale are marked on the back.

These tiles have already stirred up quite the interest and we are incredibly excited to see how they do on the rostrum. It’s not unusual for the instantly recognisable Minton tiles such as the Quentin Durward tile to bring a three figure sum. However, anything can happen and they are here to sell!


The house made out of bits
A shed made out of doors, bed posts fashioned into door canopy supports, It’s hard to imagine such places still exists but in fact they do and I was lucky enough to witness it in the flesh.
Working at Brettells Auctioneers & Valuers it’s safe to say I have come across some rather weird and wonderful sights in the auction room, but the ones that catch your attention are the house clearances outside the four walls of Brettells that really provide a memorable experience.
On the outskirts of Telford lies a very colourful creation built by a man although no longer with us, stands strong with the character and legacy of up-cycling he left behind.
Greeted by a dichotomy of green and yellow exterior with a lamp pulled straight out of Trench Railway station it was not hard to miss that this was going to be a haven for the bizarre.
As I walked into the property I was immediately hit by the eccentricity and the unmissable green and yellow colour scheme. The first room filled to brim with bits and bobs, mainly antique ceramics, brassware and a few diecast toys dotted around the place. A key piece that stuck out of this room was the fireplace that hosted a unique and bespoke swag decoration pieced together from four Victorian tiles.
As I venture on through the hand crafted scumble glazed doors decorated with mosaic decoupage panels I found myself about to enter a room with a absence of light as if to hide something, which indeed it did. On the far side of the room surrounding another fire place was a whole feature wall covered in an array of mish mash Victorian tiles. On the left side of the room housed a sideboard sprawling with an accumulation of Figural, Art Deco and French mantle clocks.
The house, again maintaining with the yellow and green decor also flowed with another motif of stained glass windows that ran through the interior. One of my favourite parts of the house was a feature stained glass window that was bordered by magic lantern slides depicting mainly popular Victorian children’s book stories and fables that were illuminated beautifully by the mid morning light.
As I exited the house into the rear garden it was clear that the eccentricity ran throughout the whole property. In a sense it felt as if the whole place fostered a bizarre microclimate as if you had fallen down the rabbit hole and stumbled upon wonderland.
The first outbuilding, again was filled to the brim with what looked like ongoing projects. The entrance canopy made out of what appeared to be either barley twist table legs or a four poster bed support. Inside I was shown an old iron cot, the cot had been converted into a sofa that was apparently used for the dogs bed. Behind all these projects lied some really exciting things. The hidden gems include some really beautiful pieces of furniture. From exquisite marble washstands to a a rather impressive oak dresser.
As you walked down the path of wonderland you could see other shelters peeping out between the greenery. One hand built shelter housed a very lovely button upholstered pink settee. Another shelter looked as if it came from an old locomotive wagon.
At the end of the path stood a large structure, that was structurally fashioned together by doors. The great  structure housing a number of wooden items, from doors, chairs and even a host of carved and painted fairground panels.
Overall from what I could see, the whole property possessed a realm of things unusual and exciting. But I hadn’t even scratched the surface, what hides underneath in boxes and out of sight is what is really exciting about this place. The contents of the property will be packed and boxed up to be auctioned at Brettells in the next coming weeks hopefully to reveal some more hidden gems.
Although it a shame I didn’t get to witness this house under better circumstances it is still full of memories that I, too, will use, reuse and recycle.
By Gemima Brettell

Clocks: A Brief Introduction 5/3/18

Instalment 2 – How to furnish your house without breaking the bank 22/01/2018

Dining out the dining room 

Instalment 1 – How to furnish your house without breaking the bank 15/01/2018







Brettells Christmas & New Year Opening Times.

Mon 19th 9-6 Usual Viewing

Tue 20th 8-5 Usual Weekly Sale

Wed 21st 9-5 Collection/Deliveries

Thu 22nd 9-4 Collection/Deliveries

Fri 23rd 9-3 Collection/Deliveries

Sat 24thDec – Tue 3rdJan CLOSED

Wed 4th 9-3 Collection/Deliveries

Thu 5th 9-3 Collection/Deliveries

Fri 6th 9-5 Collection/Deliveries

Sat 7th 9-2 Usual Viewing

Mon 8th 9-6 Usual Viewing

Tue 9th 8-5 Usual Weekly Sale

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Brettells


Fund ’Racing’ for the Neonatal Princess Royal Hospital        

In their next weekly sale on Tuesday 01/11/16 Brettells of Newport are auctioning off a Merrythought Rocking Horse all in aid of raising funds for the Neonatal Unit at Princess Royal Hospital Telford. The Rocking Horse was generously donated to help support Cecelia Roberts’s quest to raise funds for the unit. Cecelia experienced first-hand the wonderful job the unit provided in caring for her daughter who was born 13 weeks premature. The money raised will help fund facilities on the unit such as providing the unit with micro nappies, cotton wool balls, muslin squares, blankets and premature clothes. The funds will also go to making the parents stay at the unit more homely and comfortable.

To place a bid for the horse contact Newport Auction Room on 01952815925 or you can register to bid live on the sale day via the internet by visiting



Lights, camera, action!


Next week we are joined by the BBC’s Antique Road Trip team on Tuesday’s Antique and Collectable sale. Not only has Mr. Brettell been getting the saleroom ready for the auction he has also been preening and labouring on his appearance (apparently HD does nothing for complection). The antique sale brings a range of interesting and remarkable items up for auction from a Collection of Sex Pistols ephemera to an array of Swarovski crystals! Unlike the gleaming Swarovski Mr Brettell may need to endeavour a little harder to outshine the competition.  However, it wont take much for the Antique Road Trip to bring a little sparkle, with guest appearances from Charles Hanson and Catherine Southon!


So if you fancy a gander at the items up for sale on Tuesday, viewing is on Friday 22nd 9am-4pm and Monday 25th 9am-5pm with the sale on Tuesday 26th commencing a 10am (Mr Brettell has already started signing autographs in preparation, bless)




Toy story

On the 24th May Brettells is hosting its Toy Sale. In recognition, we dragged our toy expert, Chris, out of the cataloguing bay to answer a few questions…

Chris brings experience and knowledge to the Brettells team through attending toy fairs and specialising in Hornby and Railway since he was a boy.


What do you enjoy most about Brettells toy sales?

‘It’s our second Toy Sale here at Brettells and it always brings in a number of nice and interesting items such as Dinky and Corgi toys. It also brings in a lot of unheard of or less common toys such as Polythene Miniature Car toys. The toy sales are for everyone! You can be any age to play with toys, as you are always a kid at heart.’

If you could have any of the toys featuring in the upcoming Brettells Toy Sale what would it be?

‘The Scalextric Ford Escort RS.1600’


Chris tells me that the Scalextric Ford Escort RS.1600 holds sentimental value from when he was studying Motor sport at Myerscough. On one of the courses Chris got to rebuild a Mark 1, He tells me this is where he first ‘fell in love with the Ford Escort’.

What would be your most wanted item to be entered in a Brettells toy sale?

‘Probably say something relating to Ocean Liners’ Chris, a fan of cruising tells me its ‘Always been my thing’. With 20 years of experience sailing with the Cunard on family cruses. Chris tells me he would love to see a QE2 toy model as it holds sentimental value as it is the ship he and his family spent a lot of time on, and historically as it is the longest serving Cunard ship.  He tells me it would ‘bring back a lot of memories’ and go well with the large collection of Cunard memorabilia he has collected over the years.



You ‘Otter’ take a look

On the 26th April Brettells of Newport, Shropshire held their Spring Antique and Fine Art sale. The sale contained a number of sporting items sourced from an attic clearance at Sugnall Hall. Among these items were half a dozen Otter head trophies by Peter Spicer & Sons, regarded by many as one of England’s finest taxidermist . The six taxidermy otter hunt trophy masks were all mounted on  shields with inscriptions, five were stamped for Spicer and dated back to the 30’s. Lot 13  ‘A Taxidermy Otter Hunting Mask Trophy by Spicer and Sons, Leamington. On Shield Mount Inscribed “B.C.O.H, River Dane, May 3rd 1930″’ and Lot 14’ A Taxidermy Otter Hunting Mask Trophy by Spicer and Sons Leamington. On Shield Mount Inscribed “B.C.O.H, River Cerist, Aug 4th 1932″’(Border Counties Otterhounds), both achieved the highest hammer price of £340. Lot 15 ‘A Taxidermy Otter Hunting Mask Trophy by Spicer and Sons Leamington on Shield Mount Inscribed H.O.H, 14.5.31, Roden” (Hawkestone Otterhounds) realised £300 hammer price whilst Lot 10, ‘A Taxidermy Otter Hunt Trophy Mask on Shield Plinth Stamped Verso P. Spicer and Sons, Leamington Label Inscribed B.O.H 29.5.29’ went one bid better at £320. Lot 11 A Taxidermy Otter Hunt Mask Trophy on Shield Plinth Stamped Verso P. Spicer and Sons Leamington with Label Inscribed “B.C.O.H, 27.6.32, River Dovey ” achieved a hammer price of £300 also. The final lot was not stamped as Spicer and this had a big effect on price. It was inscribed with date of June 17th 1935 and sold at £140.All sold to the same American buyer based in New York through the live online bidding that Brettells facilitate at all of their sales. The six individual otter heads racked up a total of £1,740 hammer price.

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The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers

The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers, yes it is indeed a legitimate organisation. The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers was a humorous British charitable organisation set up in good faith “to foster the noble Art and gentle and healthy Pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of leisure and ex-Soldiers”. It ran from 1924-1931.

So why am I babbling on about this rather humorous sounding organisation? Well we have received a rather humorous chromium plated ‘Ancient Order of Froth Blowers’ Car Mascot by Birmingham Medal Co and it is to be entered into next week’s General Sale.

Not only is this item visually interesting but it comes with a rather heart-warming and interesting little back story. The car mascot belonged to a Spitfire pilot who served in World War Two. The pilot kept the car mascot on his sports car as he believed it gave him luck while driving to the airfield during the war. Indeed the mascot did bring the pilot luck, he survived the war and it kept him company for many years.

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Relics of War

When it comes to antiques and collectables its crucial not only to admire the objects visually but also to remember and be aware of the historical value and context that an antique or collectable possess.  Every lot sold in the sale comes with a history.

There is nothing greater in historical value than war memorabilia. From postcards to medals the memories in these items deserve recognition. The upcoming Antique and Fine Art sale on the 26th of April has brought along with it a remarkable entry of Second World War Memorabilia. The memorabilia belonging to William (Bill) Lovering, who served with the Royal Artillery in the Second World War. The Royal Artillery Mr. Lovering served with were active in Germany as part of the Allied Offensive.

The first item in the collection includes a postcard sized photograph of an Ex-Prisoner. After the liberation of the inmates in the German concentration camps in 1945, William (Bill) Lovering made contact with ex-prisoner Fikus. This contact lead to a brief friendship during which Fikus sent Lovering a photograph. The photograph depicts Fikus dressed in prison garb with a Buchenwald badge stitched to the left hand sleeve of his jacket. Attached on the back of the photograph is the Badge accompanied by a dedication to Bill dated 1945. Also noted on the photograph are references to other concentration camps where he had been and his prisoner numbers from each camp prisoner such as Auschwitz (No. 26583) and Neuengamme (No. 63748).


The other items in the archive brought back from Germany by Mr. Lovering include an array of World War Two German Nazi memorabilia including a National socialist German workers party membership book containing 50 payment stamps (1940-44). The book contains several pages full of small green German stamps. An Oval shaped black painted metal badge depicting a German Army helmet with Swastika over crossed swords and four German propaganda postcards of Adolf Hitler.


Also included in the collection are Mr. Lovering’s issues medals in the original box that he received from the War Office, a photograph of the regiment, postcard size photograph showing the date 1944-1945 listing the regiment’s movements throughout their time in Germany in chronological order and the battles they engaged in, Letter NO.3 & NO.4 from Field Marshall Montgomery on Non-fraternization (in Germany), Mr. Lovering’s ‘Soldier Service’ and ‘Pay Book’, his certificate of service and a printed personal; message from the Chief Commander  on a single sheet of paper.



All these items are incredibly unique and rich with contextual and personal history making the items very rare and very collectable. The Antique sale will no doubt unite these items with a buyer who too shares the historical value they posses.


Child’s play

It’s not all child’s play when it comes to auctioning off toys and indeed Tuesday’s sale proved this to be correct when it came to lot 52 a Sutcliffe Blue Bird II Speed Boat with its original box. The model indeed floated the boat of many in the sale room and online capturing the imagination of many bidders and indeed sped away with a high price of £140.

So for us that don’t know, who is Sutcliffe and what do they do? Well Sutcliffe Pressings was a firm that started production in 1885 producing domestic utensils and other sheet metal goods. In 1920, as soon as speedboats started to break records, manufacturers such as Sutcliffe quickly realised that toy boats would also start breaking records in the terms of breaking the banks of doting parents of young boys. In 1932 Sutcliffe pioneered and produced model boats. Toy production continued until the factory closed in 1984.

The model that featured in the sale was produced from 1958. This particular model was only available in cream. The boat today is a highly sought after gem of the toy boat world and therefore demands a high price. The model was made in tribute to British water and land speed record breaker Donald Campbell who broke eight world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964).

It wasn’t just the speed boat that was generating some hot water in the saleroom. A single owner’s collection of vintage 1960’s Scalextric was divided into 4 lots and sold for a total hammer price of £478!

Brettells next specialist toy auction is to be held 24th May. Entries now invited.

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Contains mild nudity.

As I stepped into the office this morning I was presented with a Photax Solar Colour Slide Viewer. I thought this would make quite a nice little interesting auction update, but to my surprise the slides that resided with the viewer contained a dozen that where some what more risqué than expected. The slides presenting an array of interesting travel and plane slides also housed a rather risqué secret, this being over a dozen ‘risqué’ nudes all presented in front of me before my first cup of tea.

To fill you in the Photax Solar Colour Viewer is a slide viewer manufactured by Photax Ltd. The viewer is a British product that was manufactured in England. Many households in UK would have had this for viewing their family photographs. This model gives a clear picture of the standard 5 x 5 slides.

To be as PC as possible, as I’m quite aware this may be posted before watershed. The nudes depicted topless Asian ladies in rather inventive staging. From the Robin Hood pose to the demure dressing gown, the frivolous ladies present what I can only describe as nudes on the tasteful and classic side.

However, I don’t think we should dismiss the other slides that also present some interest. The viewer and slides belonging to a serving officer in the RAF. The 5 x 5 slides documenting most of his adventures in the 60/70’s. The slides depicting his travels from aerial pictures captured in the sky to establishing shots of RAF bases such as RAF Sarjar. Suggesting he had plenty of opportunity to pick up these Oriental gems.

Overall this little lot is quite remarkable, with a bit of history and a bit of fun the viewer is estimated to make £20-40 in next week’s sale on Tuesday. Lets just hope the bidders wont be ‘koi’ unlike the women on the slides.

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When you are new in the world of antiques and get handed a pair of extremely loud and bright looking glass vases and are told one design is named the ‘Drunken Bricklayer’ it’s hard not to allow a bit of naïve pretences of opinion. This lack of experience on identifying the glassware left me in a state of flux. This cluelessness led me to the only place that may provide a little solace in my quest to uncover the truth. That being the internet. So after a seeking to google’s aid I indeed found some information about the glassware. So here is a quick history on Whitefriar glassware that you may or may not know.

It all began in 1834, when James Powell bought a glass factory in the Whitefriar area of London. The glass company at the time went by the name James Powell & Sons. The company firstly making stained glass, industrial glass and scientific glass. Whitefriar didn’t start making glass tableware till the 1860’s. In 1923 the company relocated to a new factory in Middlesex. In 1954 Geoffrey Baxter came onto the Whitefriar scene and launched his very successful textured glass range in 1967 – these designs being the same as the two vases we have in this week! Unfortunately like many British factories there is no happy ending for the company and in 1980 the Whitefriar factory closed.

The two designs we have in for Tuesdays scale, both to be sold separately include a textured TV vase, pattern 9677, in Tangerine, height 17cm and A Drunken Bricklayer vase in green, h. 20.5 cm, pattern 9673.



Hello Sailor

When a full Navy uniform comes into the saleroom it’s hard not to pass at the opportunity to want to play a bit of dress up. However, in this establishment of professionalism the only way I was going to be able to suit up and boot up was to find a little background research, upload a write up and provide an embarrassing photograph.

Lot 144 consists of a full Navy uniform, including hat ribbons for H.M.S. Sea Hawk H.M.S. Gannet, H.M.S. Fulmar, H.M.S. Daedalus, HMS Illustrious and many others, two books one titled a ‘manual of naval airmanship’, the other ‘A seaman’s pocket-book’ and an old P.T bag containing a rugby shirt, top, jumper and no doubt a bit of vintage sweat and sand. Overall lot 144 is a tidy little starter pack for the budding Naval officer.

A uniform not only tells us what regiment, ranking or location of a solider but also it can give you an insight into the wearer’s interests and professional skill set. We can tell from the stripes on the jacket that he was a sub-lieutenant. All the regiments depicted on the hat ribbons all relate to a Navy background, however they also coincide with aircraft. For example H.M.S Sea Hawk is an s a Royal Navy airbase near Helston on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall UK. From the dates marked on the manuals we can conclude the sub Lieutenant was stationed at the base during World War 2. The station was originally designed to be a wartime airfield lasting about ten years. The initial plans for the base was to serve as a Naval Fighting School, it soon developed other roles. These varied roles included such things as the trials of the Navy’s first jets, training of airborne early warning crews and as a home base for carrier based aircraft. Over the years the station’s emphasis changed from fixed wing aircraft to rotary wing, although its main role remains largely the same. The Naval base today is the largest helicopter base in Europe. The base currently has three major roles: serving the Fleet Air Arm’s front line Sea King and Merlin helicopter squadrons; providing search and rescue for the South West region; and training divers for the Royal Navy. This presents us with a range of skillsets the wearer possibly had.

The uniform is estimated to make £100-£200 in this week’s sale so we will have to stand to attention when the lot comes onto the pedestal, and with the high interest bombarding Brettell’s office I am sure there will be no need for Search and Rescue Naval Services.

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Drink Up

Tuesday’s general sale was yet another interesting sale, comprising just over 400 lots!

The antique of the week this week goes to lot number 205, a silver lidded tankard, racking up a hammer price of £220! The tankard described with heraldic boar’s head engraved with the motto ‘Reddens Laudes Domino’. The tankard monogrammed either side C & N and a hinged lid monogrammed W J R, London Hall Mark 1904.

The heraldic boars head and motto references the “Boar’s Head Carol”, being a macaronic 15th century English Christmas carol. The carol describes the ancient tradition of sacrificing a boar and presenting its head at a Yuletide feast. The motto ‘Reddens Laudes Domino’ translates into ‘Giving praises to the Lord’. The tankards hammer price just shows you that it’s never too early to start on those special festive preparations.

If you have got those Christmas festive blues creeping in have a listen to The Boar’s Head Carol 296 days to go!

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Tuesday brought yet another cold and frosty February morning. However things heated up and thawed out once the sale got going. The bidding temperature increased immensely when lot number 394 a large Chinese bottle vase came onto the pedestal. This Vase stirred up a lot of excitement in the office during the days running up to the sale. Calls from around the world enquired about thisitem leaving a numerous amount of commission bids and telephone bids that filled the Brettells office.

The vase, measuring 47cm high decorated in blue and red enamels attracted the bidders just like the depiction of the dragon chasing the pearl on the vase. Chinese art often depicts dragons chasing or fighting over pearls. The pearl, usually a symbol of wisdom, prosperity, power and immortality and the Chinese dragon traditionally a symbol of power, strength and good luck – and indeed the dragon brought much luck on the day. The vase made a mighty £4,500!

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We are now ready here at Brettells HQ for the first antique sale of the year. We have mopped the floors, gowned the tables and strategically placed all of the lots for sale day on the 16th of February. There’s a lot more to it than you may think in the preparation of an antique sale. The run up to the sale indeed demands more blood, sweat and tears from all the Brettells team. However, the preparation doesn’t just start in the final countdown it can start months in advance. It never ceases to amaze me what interesting and beautiful items pass through Brettells, such as the Replica Terracotta Horse I wrote about the other week.

To understand the hard work put into one of these sales we need to clarify what an Antique and Collectable sale is here at Brettells. So, what is an antique and collectable sale? Brettells holds five of these Antique and Collectables sales over the course of the year, filling the saleroom with specially selected choice items from the likes of private vendors and house clearances.

Who makes the choice? The final choice, of course, is down to the big cheese himself Mr David Brettell. Mr Brettell, like an emperor in ancient Rome has the final decisions about the fates of the vendors items. To enter an item the vendor must make the pilgrimage to the large yellow and green building, that towers over the Newport carpark. The vendor is then directed to a member of staff who will provide an entry form to sign over the items and agree to the terms and conditions. Once the items are entered they will either be put into the weekly general sale or specially selected by the auctioneer to try the items fate in one of these sales.

Who is the auctioneer? Mr Brettell is a man that you will not be able to miss. With his loud voice and even louder ties Mr Brettell is the man with the knowledge and the knowhow. With over forty years experience and even less grey hairs we are left wondering what is his secret!

Once all the items have been selected they are researched, valued and photographed for cataloguing. The catalogue is available and a week and three days before the auction date. Brettells also offer a live bidding facility at these sales so these items can be seen and purchased anywhere around the globe, for the best possible price.

We have got an array of nearly 500 lots in this Antique sale from a prehistoric petrified tree stump (I’m not talking about the auctioneer) to an interesting late 19th century dog cart, so is well worth a little look online or in the saleroom.

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Terracotta Horse 

The first antique sale of the year is creeping upon us again, and with that comes a whole selection of interesting and unique pieces that never fail to capture an audience. A key piece that has been stirring some attention in the saleroom of late is the unmissable Terracotta Horse that’s taking livery in the saleroom. The auctioneer, David Brettell, describes the lot as a ‘three quarter replica Qin Terracotta Army Cavalry Horse with a Moulded Saddle’. However, the auctioneer’s description doesn’t quite pull the same heart strings as the Singaporean Prime Minister did in 1976 when the discovery of the Terra-cotta army was first uncovered. Prime Minister Lee declared the discovery as “the wonder of the world, a glory of the nation!” (I think the auctioneer could learn a few tricks from this fellow). With this said, we can forgive the auctioneer for his formality and unenthusiastic language as the lot has become his favourite piece and one to watch in this month’s antique sale.
Despite the fact that it is a replica we can’t ignore the significance the figure represents in terms of cultural legacy and history. The Terracotta Army was first discovered completely by accident in 1974 by a local farmer in Xian China. As the local farmer was digging he broke a well into a pit containing 6000 life-sized Terracotta warriors. Excavation in 1976 revealed two more pits containing more of the warriors. This accidental discovery has been a worldwide fascination and is regarded as the 8th wonder of the ancient world. The Terracotta Army was guarding the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang di, who lived over 2200 years ago and was responsible for another wonder of the world being The Great Wall of China. The Emperor was obsessed by life and death and uncovering the secret of immortality – however I’m not quite sure how successful he was! This craze for life and the fear of death ultimately gave us the legacy of the terracotta warriors.
Although the piece is only a replica you can’t deny what an impressive feature it would make for a statement piece in the shop of an dealer in – maybe even a Chinese restaurant!