WHITCHURCH auctioneers Trevanion's have celebrated its first auction of the year with record-breaking sales.

The auction, held on Wednesday, April 14, saw many pieces exceed pre-sale estimates.

Highlights included a mid-19th century satin birch breakfront open bookcase which sold for £2,800 and a Victorian pine housekeepers' cupboard which sold for an astonishing £2,600.

Auctioneers Christina Trevanion and Ashley Jones discovered the cupboard when they called in to assess the contents of the house and outbuildings of a property in Shropshire, where they found it in the barn destined for the 'burn pile' having languished there for decades.

Much to their joy, after a brief clean to remove years of cobwebs and birds' nests, the cupboard was highly sought after before selling to an interior designer for £2,600.

Elsewhere in the furniture section an unusual 19th century Anglo-Indian camel form occasional table sold for £1,900.

Furniture valuer and auctioneer Ian Woodward said he was surprised by the success of the sale items.

"The furniture market has been thriving this year, but many of the prices achieved in the April auction far surpassed our pre-sale expectations," he said.

"The prices were some of the best results I've seen for over a decade.

"As usual, fine quality pieces from the 18th/19th century are bringing consistently strong prices, but even pieces from the late Victorian and Edwardian period, which seemed to have fallen out of style in the last ten years, have been accomplishing some incredible results.

"Some of our regular buyers are saying that the 'boom' we have been experiencing for the last twelve months is due to lockdown, and that the bubble is sure to burst.

"However, I think there are many factors contributing to the renewed success the market is experiencing which goes beyond the pandemic.

"Taste is cyclical – items which had become unfashionable in the last ten to twenty years are now in high demand.

"We are seeing a trend amongst our audience for smaller, lighter pieces of furniture of the 18th/19th century which are unusual but can be easily adapted into the modern home.

"In particular, carved furniture such as the camel table which sold for almost £2,000 is proving extremely popular, with many of our buyers drawing interior inspiration from decorative pieces of the middle east/Anglo-Indian taste.

"We're also finding that it is becoming more common for items bought to be shipped abroad – a number of lots in this auction sold to America, Canada and Eastern Europe.

"This can be attributed to the increasing rarity of pieces of this kind of quality; the craftsmanship of furniture cannot be matched by modern replicas, and there is a limited number coming to market.

"I think this also explains why buyers who previously snubbed Victorian and Edwardian pieces are now reconsidering them, as the results being achieved by older examples are pricing them out of the range of the average buyer."

Moving away from the furniture section, one of the most surprising results of the day came from a 19th century jug depicting Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, who was a celebrated British statesman.

The piece drew the attention of ceramic enthusiasts across the country, before selling to a collector in the South of England for a staggering £2,100 despite being chipped and damaged, much to the vendors delight.

Another result of note came from a 19th century oil painting by William Henderson entitled '11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars.'

Discovered by valuer Ashley Jones in an outbuilding across the border in Wales, the painting offers its viewers insight into an infamous deadly battle of the Crimean War.

The painting was hotly contested by domestic and international buyers before selling to a private military collector via a telephone bid.

Looking to the year ahead, managing director Christina Trevanion said: "We have spent the lockdown period undertaking a full refurbishment of our wonderful and historic saleroom in Whitchurch.

"It has been great to welcome back our customers to our beautiful showrooms and show them that we have not been resting on our laurels during lockdown.

"It was wonderful that our first auction of 2021 was such a great success for our valued clients.

"We are looking forward to an exciting few months ahead as our next auction includes a wonderful collection of furniture and fine art from Ruyton Hall, an impressive country house just outside Shrewsbury."