No two days are the same at the Octagon Saleroom, East Reach, Taunton. So many hidden treasures find their way through the doors and into the catalogues of our monthly sales and it’s the responsibility of our valuers to find them.

Simon Rayner, one of our valuers and auctioneers, tells us about his experience in the industry.

“My days can be quite different. Some are valuation days where people bring items in to us and we’ve usually no idea what they’re going to be, so it can be very interesting. Other days I’ll be out visiting people at their homes to value items.”

Simon and the rest of the team also spend a lot of their time in research, which helps them when valuing items. “I’ve got a degree in Fine Arts Valuation but really it’s not as much use as experience in handling objects.” They also have to conduct condition reports as well as the cataloguing process of all the lots that feature in the auctions.

One notable consignment that stands out to Simon is a collection of tiles made for Minton – Europe’s leading ceramic factory during the Victorian era – that featured in our first antiques sale of 2020.

The seven intricately decorated tiles by Henry Stacy Marks RA (13 September 1829 – 9 January 1898) depicted Shakespeare’s Seven Ages Of Man.

“I saw the tiles during a house call. I admired them, but didn’t think they would actually be consigned.”

Simon did some background research and quickly found out just how important these tiles were.

“Although I could find single examples cropping up at auction, there are hardly any examples of complete sets of these tiles. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a whole set come up for auction.

I contacted the Minton museum and the V & A, because I thought they should be involved and potentially buy them due to their rarity.”

When the tiles went to auction, the battle came down to two phone bidders. The tiles sold for double their starting price with the hammer going down at a solid £14,000; sold to a collector from New York.

Simon, who oversaw the decorative arts and 20th Century sale, said: “This is one of the nicest lots I have had the privilege of selling.”

When it comes to buying and selling antiques and collectables, our valuers are the experts. For collecting, Simon advises to buy items that you enjoy owning because the value of antiques can fluctuate.

“Items for sale at auction tend to be unique, so if in doubt then I would recommend buying. You can always try to sell it on later.” Simon finished with one final piece of advice: “I’ve always regretted things I haven’t bought rather than things I have bought. You don’t often get a second chance at the things which got away!”

Our Antiques Saleroom hold monthly Antiques and specialist sales, including Books & Maps, Sporting, Collectors and Automobilia. They also hold monthly general sales at our Sedgemoor Auction Centre, North Petherton, where you can find bargain house clearance items with no reserve price.

We offer free home visits and valuations with our experts like Simon, so if you think you might have a treasure of your home, speak to Simon and our Antiques team for valuations and advice. 01823 332522