Quite a year for a Honiton auctioneers Chilcotts

Duncan and Liz Chilcott expect the next sale to take place on March 6

Duncan and Liz Chilcott expect the next sale to take place on March 6 - Credit: Sue Cade

The final auction of 2020 was an overwhelming success for Chilcotts Auctioneers with enough lots for a jam-packed two-day sale. 

Outstanding sales included the medals of female WW2 pilot Joan Hughes which went for the unexpectedly high figure of £5,800. Auctioneer Duncan Chilcott said: “We were delighted with the amount of interest around Joan’s medal - her story was so interesting and inspirational that it captured people’s imaginations. A civilian MBE will usually sell for around £100 so this was a real surprise.” 

Another top performer was the watch section, with an 18-carat gold vintage Rolex with diamond points the star attraction, achieving £11,000. Pocket watches also did well, as did an Omega Seamaster which sold for £1,150 and a Hamilton stainless steel watch which fetched £340, with Girard-Perregaux and Breitling watches also proving popular. 

“With so many of us reliant on digital these days, it was really nice to see this interest in beautifully crafted analogue timepieces. They seem to be the accessory of the moment,” added Duncan. 

The Mary Clarke Mohl collection of historical items originating from Prussia and Germany also attracted interest with a tiny marriage casket making £600, and little games box £220 and a small bronze incense burner making £720. A collection of drawings which included a sketch of Florence Nightingale went for £800. 

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The sale illustrates how the world of auctioneering has changed. It attracted 984 online bidders, plus commission and phone bids and just 8 to 10 people in the saleroom at any one time. The number of packages sent afterwards topped 145, almost three times the number that would usually be sent with more and more people eschewing contact. 

This was the last sale until at least March as the Chilcotts feel it is safer for their staff, vendors and buyers not to continue even with online auctions during Lockdown 3. However, Duncan will still carry out probate valuations at empty properties when required. 

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Liz Chilcott believes the strength of the business, now in its 17th year, is very much down to taking quick action to the demands of the pandemic. She explained: “As for everyone, the past months have been different - and challenging - in terms of managing a business. However, early on we worked hard to stay ahead of the curve introducing Covid-security not only at the saleroom but also during valuation visits to client’s homes. 

“At the end of 2020, unsurprisingly our turnover was slightly down but I’m pleased to say the drop isn’t drastic and despite the latest lockdown, we are in a robust position. This is in no small way due to the support of our customers and the commitment of our team. We’re now looking forward to moving to the new Dolphin Salerooms in Honiton High Street which we expect to be at the end of February.” 

The next planned auction will take place on 6th March. 

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