Sunday, 18 February 2018

Princess Diana's Bike!

Every week or so I check the website https://www.the-saleroom.com to see what items are coming up in local auctions that could be useful for fixing up Balintore Castle. I put on a few low but genuine bids online, but 9 times of 10 nothing comes through. It's a nice hobby, and a way of furnishing the castle that won't break the bank.

This weekend, I spotted there was an auction on Saturday with some interesting items in the Masonic Hall in Thame (an 18 mile drive away) so I put on a few commission bids. Some of the auctions are also "live" on the Internet, so sometimes I check-in while they are in progress to see how things are going.


Anyhow, the prices being achieved at the Thame action were much lower than usual, for whatever reason and there were quite a high proportion of "by's" i.e. items that did not sell. I had already won an Art Deco cloakroom sink and mirror for £6 ! Given the low prices and that I had already had one item to pick-up, it made sense to put on a few extra bids while the auction was live. Live bids have the advantage that other people cannot see these in advance. 

In this manner, I also managed to win a collection of Victorian curtain poles for £18. Content with my haul, it was time to drive over to the auction to pick up the items. The auction was still in progress when I arrived. The masonic hall is tiny, and I don't think the number of people at the auction broke double figures at any stage. In any case, the two male auctioneers had a good double act going, that entertained and counteracted the low prices and low attendance - not that many more people could have got into the hall.


Princess Diana's Bike

At one stage a non-descript sit-up-and-beg bicycle came up for sale. The estimate was a crazy £500 to £1500, but then I twigged why. It had once belonged to Princess Diana. Eventually, the bike realised an incredible £9200. I naturally assumed the winning Internet bidder was in the Far East, and I wondered to myself "Who can afford an item like this?".

Later, when I went to pay for my items I realised that the man in front of me in the queue was the new owner of the bike. So I then knew exactly who could afford an item like this! He had driven in, like myself, to pick up his item. The buyer was a South of England businessman: I think I detected a Scottish accent. In his conversation with the auctioneers, it was agreed that news about the sale could appear in the press but that his name would not be used. The auctioneers expressed their delight that the bike was staying in the country and not heading off to the Far East.

As the man trundled the bike out of he showroom, the auctioneer was in a such a good mood that he couldn't resist shouting out "Make sure you make all the proper hand-signals!". For in truth, this one sale had, presumably, on its own turned the fortunes of this rather "slow" auction around.

That's what I love about auctions, you see different views of the world that you would never usually be aparty to.





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