A Day at the Auction with Georg Jensen's Signature
The sudden outbreak of the corona virus across the world has meant many unanticipated disruptions to the way we conduct our daily lives. No matter the circumstance, everyone has been affected somehow - including our favorite TV programme The Antiques Road Trip. Yes, we are indeed two 20-something sisters whose idea of a good evening is spending it with Tim Wonnacott, Charles Hanson, and Paul Laidlaw driving around on the British B-roads.
Unfortunately, as with anything else, filming of the show was interrupted for health and safety reasons, and so, lacking our auction-drama fix (online antiques-shopping we were able to manage), we decided to head to auction ourselves - and it was a great experience.
Holstebro Auctions (red.) host auctions one weekend each month with varying themes, and it seems we picked the right one for our debut, as it was especially good for silver.
An Auction Debut on a Day for Collectors
Upon arrival at the auction house, which from the outside looks like an inconspicuous warehouse, but from the entrance and inside looks like a modern and stylish provincial auction house, we were greeted warmly and with great enthusiasm by a man who turned out to be, Hans Jørgen Eriksen, the owner of Holstebro Auctions.
No doubt partially because we fall somewhat outside of the auction's typical demographic, he took interest in us, and quickly filled the role of what seemed like our personal guide to auction-going, even making sure to tell other member's of staff to help up with anything we wanted to look closer at, and answering any questions we might have.
After a brief conversation, he told us that a particularly large collection of Georg Jensen pieces, as well as other silver, would be up for sale. The absolute perfect auction for us.
Interestingly, it was an auction with a theme of private collections - a large Lego collection, Georg Jensen Silver, Wildlilfe & Hunting Paintings, Danish Design Furniture, and even Stone Age tools.
Since the lots up for auction, including a fully-built Lego display, were all beautifully presented for viewing, inspection was easy and delightful - from furniture to silver. We took full advantage for a couple of closer looks.
Noticing that the chairs were filling up fairly quickly, partly due to the limited seating as a precaution against spreading Covid-19, we took our seats, and prepared for our first ever in-person auction experience; sister with the number 58 ready to shoot in the air, I with my notepad, pen and camera, ready to capture the details of the day.
Though many will come close to the lot numbers they want, and leave when those are passed, we made the most of a first-experience, and stayed from lot no. 1 until the very last drop of the gavel.
Owner Hans Jørgen Eriksen himself was the first auctioneer wielding the gavel, and he started off creating a relaxed atmosphere, not shying away from jokes, as he noted that the cars first up for sale were "guaranteed good, and fast-driving, as they were confiscated by the Police for doing just that".
The first couple of hundred-or-so lots were cars, bicycles and various other items seized by, and auctioned off by the Police. This is perhaps the less charming part of these types of auctions, but for anyone looking for a bicycle at a bargain price, it is definitely a great place to look.
What also seemed to be a big-attraction of the day, was a rather good selection of Mid-Century Modern furniture up for sale, mainly Danish. There were no Finn Juhl pieces this time, but the items did range in designs from names like Hans J. Wegner, Nanna Ditzel, Arne Jacobsen, and Børge Mogensen to Ray & Charles Eames. An all round great group, which attracted many younger couples, as well as some commercial buyers.
A Shiny Silver Main Event
As the lot-numbers neared the 400s, many bidders had left their seats and the building. Only a small group remained for what we considered to be the main event of the day: the silver (and gold) auction.
The silver in this auction was especially interesting, because much of it was from the private collection of a prominent Skagen apothecary Victor Klæbel, whose vast collection of Skagens Paintings will be offered for auction on October 6th at the same auction house.
Aside from this main job as an apothecary, he was a keen art enthusiast who took part in amateur photography, and he is also credited in large part with the initiative, idea and hard work that made the famous Skagen Museum a reality - the current location of many of the most famous paintings by Anna Ancher, Michael Ancher, and P. S. Krøyer. He was also knighted by the King in 1928 - needless to say, his collection of silver was very interesting and exciting to see in person, and up for auction.
The silver lots went one by one from 401 to nearly 500, most of them selling to buyers over the phone. But we did manage to take some advantage of the Georg Jensen and other silver pieces up for sale. (Read on for more on the lots we left with)
Two very special lots 402 and 403, which went for the highest bids of the day (disregarding a very nice newer model Volvo), were some very special Georg Jensen candlesticks (pictured left).
We had seen them in the preview, where early bids had reached around 10000kr. ($1600). On the actual day it became abundantly clear that that price was not a reality at all, and that these were very special candlesticks. Sure they were silver, and sure they were 'Georg Jensen', however -
- what we did not know before the actual auction was that both of these sets of candlesticks were in fact hand-made by Georg Jensen himself, and signed as such - his signatures actually visible on the 'feet' upon close inspection. (see photo to the right)
Unfortunately, we were unaware of how special they were prior to the auction, and so we missed the opportunity to hold them in the pre-auction showing. But we did get to look at them, and it was very special to see.
Both pairs sold to phone bidders, and went for over 40,000kr. ($6500) each. In my opinion that is not actually that high a price, when you consider commercial prices of similar pieces, and the rarity of items that carry Georg Jenen's own signature.
On the left: the other pair of Georg Jensen candlesticks actioned off that day. These are our favorite pair of the two, though both are spectacular.
One notable fact about both sets, is that neither are numbered, as with most Georg Jensen silver pieces. They are simply stamped with GJ makers marks, and the silver mark.
A Spectacular Auction With a Succesful Outcome
Of all the magnificent silver lots available on the day, we got away with bidding on quite a few, although we left with only two.
Among lots we had hoped to get were six beautiful Evald Nielsen cake forks, Georg Jensen Cypress Grapefruit Spoons, a 1966 Swedish silver Borgila lidded dish with a beautilful flower-bud finial, and many other lots of Georg Jensen silver cutlery. We would have loved to buy them all, but being honest, it would have probably been too much.
In the end we left very content with two wonderful silver lots, which embody pretty much everything we love about silver: style and age.
The first lot was a four-piece set of Georg Jensen Cypress serving silverware by designer Tias Eckhoff. It was only one of several on offer that day, but the only one we could pry from the phonebidders' interest.
The set, lot 431, our first ever lot won at a live, in-person auction, consists of:
- One sauce ladle, 21 cm long
- One meat fork, 21 cm long
- Two serving spoons at respectively 21,5 and 24,5 cm long
Available on the site soon. Contact for interest sooner.
The second lot, though in quite another lane, is one that fits perfectly in with our personal and professional loves: a 3-piece set of Danish silver coffee pot, tea pot, and milk jug or creamer, all from the early 1800s.
An absolutely charming and wonderful set of pieces - although they are not likely an original 'set', but rather one, which had later been brought together.
Interestingly, as we found after the fact, the three pieces were auctioned off by a seller in our hometown, which we have now brought it back to.
One curious thing, about the silver marks on the tea pot is that they are on full display, and not only that - but they are upside down for some odd reason. Usually, both now and at the time of the making of these pieces, Danish silver marks were hidden away from view. Many English pieces will have the hallmarks displayed as part of the luxury of the piece, but on Danish items you will most often find that the marks are on the bottom, on the back, or with candleholders, often even in the 'cups' for the candles.
These, however, are on full display, and require any reader to pay special attention, as they are stamped the wrong way up. Very unusual and interesting.
Apart from some rather irregular confusion from the 'phones' and those handling them, which really just provided a good laugh, the auction went fairly smoothly, and was very open and approachable for new-comers like ourselves. It was formal and organized though we did not at any point feel out of our league - except perhaps with the candlesticks.
This auction was held in August, and so at a time when the Covid-19 curve was on its way down in Denmark, but of course the virus was around. The auction house took good care to leave space between chairs, requiring all bidders / onlookers to be seated, and making sure hand-sanitizing was kept up. We felt perfectly safe the whole time.
I was a great experience, and one we highly recommend to others - at Holstebro Auktioner, or any other auction house nearer to you. Even if you do not end up making any purchases it's a great day out, and the thrill of bidding is a fun rush - whether you win or not. We certainly expect to be visiting Holstebro Auctions again and hopefully many times in the future.