John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Class Glass’

Much of my work has been carried out through word of mouth and on trust without the need for written agreements – but occasionally this has backfired.

On very rare occasions, it was not plain sailing for me when it came to getting paid for carrying out a task. One such case was when I was called in to perform the closure sale at Toby’s the high-end department store that used to stand proudly in Nottingham’s Friar Lane until July 1983 when it fell victim to the Victoria Centre and the Broadmarsh shopping route.

I remember vividly how I went in and catalogued all the pottery and glassware gifts and other contents of the spacious business, advertising the auction for the following week, with viewings on the Monday and Tuesday and the actual sale planned on a Wednesday.

I went in on the Monday to find to my amazement that everything was completely gone already – everything. I rang the people who had instructed us and was told that they had decided to sell it early and there would be no comeback as we had not received their instructions in writing.

I was not happy to have done so much work for nothing – then I had a brainwave. I remembered that when I had been walking around the business previously, I had noticed a display in the doorway which had contained 28 pieces of specially designed glass created by a famous specialist.

I had had this removed and earmarked this for the auction which never took place. Instead, I rang back our instructors for the sale and told them I had the glass at my place.

Anyway, they never turned up to collect it so, 24 years later, I sold it last year and it made sixteen hundred quid. It didn’t pay our costs for the abandoned sale, but I suppose it helped to ease the pain a little!

I wish we’d taken the big porcelain Toby Jug that used to stand outside the shop; it would have made £10,000, but I never thought about that!

It was situated up near the top of the front façade and would have cost £2000 just to take it down, but it would have been well worth the effort. It was a popular local landmark.


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