Garry Emms - Great Yarmouth Auctions & Salerooms


The following articles are written by Garry Emms, quite a few of them have been published in various trade magazines. We hope that they will be useful for research, or merely interesting reading.

The Black Turkey
Bootiful Doulton
Article from a leading Antiques Collection Magazine

"Who will start me at a tenner? Fiver anywhere then? Two pounds 1'm bid! Do 1 hear three?

Regular bidders, even if they intend to pay up to thirty pounds for the lot on offer, may not wish to start the ball rolling at a tenner or a fiver. They'd usually much prefer to start with a pound or two pounds, hoping that this is going to be their really lucky day. Bidding can be exciting, it can even be addictive - and very rewarding if you succeed in getting a genuine bargain.

Auctions have played a large part in Garry Emms' life ever since his schooldays, when at the age of eleven, he would spend all his spare time in school holidays and at weekends helping out at an Ipswich saleroom. From this beginning, he has been involved in residential and commercial estate agency and auctioneering at all levels throughout East Anglia since 1965. He has often done freelance auctioneering for other firms and agencies - and still does. Since 1995 he has been the principal of Garry M. Emms and Co. Ltd. and trades as Great Yarmouth Salerooms, at Beevor Road. The contacts he has made through the years have proved invaluable, as much of his auction work is of probate and insurance origin and stems from estate agents and solicitors.

Garry thoroughly enjoys his work, though every day is extremely busy. He usually has to work through the weekends examining all the lots, placing them in the appropriate positions in the auction room, allocating the lot numbers and cataloguing them. "The public doesn't see what work goes on behind closed doors," he says. Monday is the day for listing all the reserve prices and commission bids, with more of the same on Tuesday, and public viewing of the lots from 2pm to 8pm. Wednesday is hectic, being the sale day proper and Thursday and Friday herald all the arrivals for the next sequence.

It must be remembered, too, that the auctioneering side of Garry's enterprise, although it takes up lots of his time, represents only about one third of his total business. Wearing other hats, he conducts several services allied to the auction and estate agency scene. It has been jokingly said that auctioneers have "lots" to offer, and this is certainly true of Great Yarmouth Salerooms. Among the services offered are commercial property management, archive and domestic storage, preparation of inventories, valuations for probate and insurance purposes, appraisals, export and shipping, collection and delivery, small removals and house clearance.

Garry comments: "One of the services that I most enjoy, and wish to promote more, is on-site auctions, where I will travel to sell the effects in-situ. Typical venues being factories, offices, shops, country houses - wherever the need arises." Sort of "Have gavel - will travel."

"The most enjoyable part of any auction is when the bidding results in really good prices, to the satisfaction of the vendors, whether they are commercial, executors or private individuals."

He tells, too, of the excitement of finding something really valuable or out of the ordinary. His most important find was when clearing a house for the executors. A hidden staircase was discovered that was subsequently estimated to have been sealed for around fifty years. It led to an attic containing a couple of old tables. Not very exciting, you might think - but these were a matched pair of Georgian inlaid mahogany games tables with oak leaf marquetry, circa 1780. They sold at his next auction for £15,100.

Garry explains that when conducting an auction it is essential to hold the attention of the "room," and a good auctioneer can make the bidding experience much more enjoyable for all. He also encourages the buyers to play their part by not carrying on conversations among themselves when he is selling. If too much noise arises, he will stop selling and politely ask the offenders to keep quiet or carry on their chatter outside. A notice in the entrance to the auction room reads "A quiet, respectable and well-mannered room would be appreciated."

Mother notice lists some of the prices realised at recent auctions to give vendors an idea of what may be achieved. Recent examples included a fine mahogany Victorian settee £2,200, Victorian walnut piano f1,200, K reg Ford Orion car £920, Victorian mahogany tilt-top table £720 and a folio of unframed water colours by lack Goddard £535.

Carry says that although bargains can sometimes be found at any sale, it's a fallacy that prices achieved will generally be lower in an East Anglian auction. "The word spreads," he says, "and specialist buyers and larger collectors are expert at knowing what's on offer - and where. Our results are on a level with major auction houses throughout the country."

Distant bidders can phone in with commission bids in advance of the sale or bid by telephone as the action progresses.

The number of lots sold per hour obviously varies from one auctioneer to another. Go too fast and the occasional higher result from an indecisive bidder could be lost. Too slow and the procedure can seem to drag and the room loses a little interest" There are faster auctioneers than me - and slower ones," says Garry. "I usually average between 150 and 200 lots per hour, depending on the type of goods. But, unlike some, after, announcing the lot number I always give a brief description of what the lot consists of. This saves confusion and makes it less likely that a bidder will mistakenly bid for the wrong lot." He then calculated that during his previous day's sale he had averaged 163 lots per hour and pointed out that he also did his own paperwork as he went along, whereas many auctioneers would have a clerk seated at the rostrum beside them.

Asked what would be his advice to any would be bidder, he replied, "take full advantage of the viewing days, and make absolutely sure that you know the condition of the lots that you are interested in. In our case, we are open for viewing for six hours on the day before the sale and from nine until ten on the sale day." So there's no excuse for getting it wrong.

Garry is proud of having built up a successful business in Great Yarmouth after moving from Norwich. Several of his peers were of the opinion that Yarmouth was too small a place for the business he envisaged. "Too provincial," they said, and urged him to return to the city. But, having moved his family to Yarmouth, he was determined to succeed, and by hard work and perseverance his bid to achieve his goal has been successful.
"Reproduced from Suffolk Norfolk Life ,the monthly county magazine"

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Bootiful Doulton


Bernard Matthews, the renowned Turkey Breeder, last year celebrated 40 years in the turkey business. To commemorate this landmark he commissioned 'Royal Doulton' to produce a limited edition of 3,000 models entitled 'The Turkey', D6889, modelled by J.G. Tongue (Graham Tongue) the former head modeller of 'Beswick'.
The model closely resembles the Beswick Turkey No. 1957 (1964-1969), modelled by Albert Hallam, Mr. Tongue's predecessor.
Once the 3,000 run was complete, Bernard Matthews himself, destroyed the mould. 'The Turkey', together with a bottle of Scotch, was presented to members of staff at Christmas 1990. Each model has the edition number inscribed on the base and has an accompanying certificate.
(Published Collectors News, November 1991)


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The Black Turkey

Further to this small précis, Bernard Matthews commissioned in the year 2000 a black variant of 'The Turkey', D.7149, also by Royal Doulton, this was to celebrate 50 years in the turkey business. As with its predecessor it was in a limited edition of 3000, with its own box and numbered certificate. Although issued ten years after the first model it has proved to be more desirable and commands a figure in excess of double of the original white variant D.6889 on the secondary market.


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Published in a leading antiques collection magazine by request in 1995

When asked to submit an article on ceramics, I replied with my usual stock-in-trade answer, "yes that's OK no problem". That was until I was poised with pen and paper and thought, what a diverse and comprehensive subject. After thinking long and hard, I decided to devote this article to a modern day term 'the collectable'.

I have never read a definition of the word 'collectable', but I imagine that in the singular, it would be a small, inexpensive item. More times than not, this item would be part of a series or range of similar items which, with additions, would form a collection. As a single item in a cabinet or display shelves it would perhaps look non-descript, but upon addition, a collection starts to build and becomes both more appealing and attractive and hopefully more valuable.

I am not going to mention prices or values much as this is perhaps not the main criteria in building a collection, although the careful choice of subject might be rewarding financially in the years to come. In ceramics, the main field of collectables are story book characters produced by some of the major potters to include Royal Doulton, Beswick, Coalport, Wade, Royal Albert to name but a few. Story book characters are models created from the illustrations in such children's books as 'The Snowman', by by Raymond Briggs, 'Beatrix Potter', 'Bunnykins', 'Paddington Bear', 'Walt Disney', 'Rupert and Friends', etc., etc.

Although the term collectable is a fairly contemporary expression the items themselves have been around for many years for instance Beatrix Potter characters were first made in the 1940's with a range still in production. I will mention only briefly Beatrix Potter characters as this is a wide, varied and sometimes complicated field due to the number of versions of a specific character produced together with the number of backstamps, the length of production for each specific character and in later years, the change of factory (from Beswick to Royal Albert in 1989). Some of these pieces are now very much sought after and can command a relatively high price for something inexpensive when new.

The secondary market for discontinued pieces is a strange thing, particularly in America where collectors are happy to have several versions of a specific character which look the same when displayed in a cabinet, the only difference being each could carry a different backstamp. Royal Doulton Bunnykins figures are most appealing and feature a number of special commissions. At first the general consensus of opinion that this was at the avid collectors expense and exploitation. These special commissions are relatively short runs of, say, as little as 250 to 1,000 but upon seeing them, they certainly do and would enhance a collection. These commissions are usually available by mail order or at special fairs and events. Other items in this range are produced for one year only e.g. a Bunnykins character carrying a cake produced in 1994 only commemorating the 60th anniversary of Bunnykins, another which comes to mind is the 'Aussie surfer' produced in 1993 exclusively for the Australian market.

At a recent specialist fair for Royal Doulton and Beswick ceramics the words uttered on the day of the fair to most of the stall holders were "have you any Snowmen?". The majority of collectors and dealers had bypassed this particular range from the Royal Doulton factory which were reproduced from the illustrations in the Raymond Briggs stories but since their withdrawal from the Royal Doulton Catalogue at the end of 1994 they are all of a sudden very much in demand. All of the items mentioned one would be likely to find at auctions, general antique and collectors' fairs and possibly if one were lucky at a car boot.

I can offer a few tips to the collector or would be collector, for instance check out your local departmental store or china shop, sometimes they will have sales of the items mentioned in this article for up to as much as 20% off. Often these sales are items being withdrawn from catalogues in that particular year, these are the ones to buy because as from the date of the withdrawal they can be worth up to 50% more than the original retail price and if the specific item had a shorter production run then the appreciation in the short-term may be the greater.

When buying from general fairs, fleamarkets and car boots always inspect the item carefully. If the backstamp is defaced in any way, nine times out of ten it would denote that it is a factory second. There is of course no harm in that and one would expect the stall holder to point out the fact that it is a second and it be reflected in the asking or agreed sale price. Items at specialist fairs on the whole tend to be slightly cheaper than seen at general fairs and fleamarkets where a general trader will obtain a piece of Beswick, Royal Doulton, Sylvac, Carltonware and because of an in vogue name, get carried away when pricing their ware.

There are a number of publications on ceramic story book characters both reference books and price guides. It is so easy these days for someone to buy a price guide and overnight become a so-called armchair expert but believe you me there is no substitute for actually attending fairs, club meetings and auctions. Only then will one gain the knowledge and experience it takes to start, build or add to an existing collection of specific items which are in perfect condition, at a price which you are prepared to pay, whether it be above or below the figure mentioned in a guide.

To conclude as mentioned before a wide, diverse and complicated subject at the same time one which undoubtedly provides hours of enjoyment in the seeking out of items and the admiring of them in the comfort of your own home.


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