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Words: William Gregory MRICS Golding Young and Mawer
Featured in the May 2013 issue

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The economic climate continues to influence bidding in auction rooms.

The financial crisis has seen the price of precious metals such as gold and silver reach historic highs, with some over five times higher in as many years. Commodity speculation has resulted in increased bidding at auction with gold sovereigns once selling at £50–£60 now regularly averaging £220–£260.

Silverware has also seen a dramatic increase in price with tea services and cutlery regularly fetching hundreds of pounds. This underlying increase in value needs to be treated with caution, as simply valuing by weight can disregard quality and rarity. Auctions have always attracted collectors and quality usually results in more competitive bidding. Influences such as makers, style and limited availability can value the item far in excess of its bullion price. Knowing what collectors are looking for is often the challenge and in a global market regional differences also have an effect. To emphasize the point, here are some recent examples of some similar items fetching very different amounts at auction.

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