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Everything posted by jamesbuchanan

  1. It is a big auction and it looks like the others have also been busy over the last few months. I don't envy any of you having to go through these sales trying to work out what to buy. In the old (pre-Amati) days, we used to argue endlessly about whether to have the first auction (when everybody has money), or the last auction (ensuring that people sit on their hands at other auctions). At the end of the day my only conclusion was that somebody has to go first, somebody has to go last and if you have good enough items, people will bid whenever the sale is held. Now we deliberately have ours on a Wednesday, in the perhaps shaky belief that people like to view our auctions, go home, have a think, a glass of wine, check their notes and then start bidding. It also has the benefit of giving us two days afterwards before the weekend. Obviously I mucked that one up properly this time as we finish on Thursday, but the thought was there. Hope you have a great weekend everyone. Mine (for anyone interested), was spent drinking far too much with some new friends, waking my children up for church, only to discover that we don't have a vicar, then two hours in the office with Sarah, scrubbing the loos. We can't find a cleaner for love or money.
  2. Thanks All, Two days. Hopefully well balanced. My eyes are bleeding. About to press go shortly, but thank you again. How is that for customer feedback in action?
  3. There is a currently a debate going on in Amati Towers that I seem to be losing. We have about 360 lots in the auction we are about to launch. If we go by our normal timing of two minutes per lot, ending at nine pm, then we will be starting the sale at 09.15. This puts our American clients at something of a disadvantage. So... please help - should we have a two day auction, or do it all in a (LONG) day? Cellos and bows Day One etc. We need to make this decision by 5pm this evening. Please help chaps!
  4. You simultaneously say that no auction house should make a mistake, and seem to support this with an example where a mistake was made with a Ferrari. It probably doesn't need repeating, but no company is infallible. The best any can do, irrespective of the industry they are in, is to learn from mistakes and improve processes. Speaking for Amati, we have made mistakes in condition reports, but they are always unintentional, I have never asked somebody doing condition reports for us to 'go light' on any issue and if I did, I suspect they would throw something at me. Everything comes back to what @Shelbow said up-thread. Nothing replaces viewing an instrument in person. If you aren't able to do that and if you aren't comfortable with the information you are given, then contact the auctioneers directly.
  5. Morning All, Matesic, there is a lot to unpack here, and I don't think there is enough coffee in the world to get my brain spinning properly at the moment, however, some quick points. 1 - Nothing can replace viewing an item in person. Last week has seen a stream of people coming through the office to do exactly that. 2 - Our buyers are international. We are aware of this and try to give as many tools as possible to give the buyer confidence to bid without seeing in person. These include, but are not restricted to: i - 73 photographs of an instrument. I believe we are the only auction house in our field that does this. I am very glad that it worked as it was intended in your instance. ii - Detailed condition reports on every instrument. Sometimes we might miss something. Most of our clients are very good at flagging it up if we have. Generally speaking however I think we do quite well with this. iii - LiveChat. We are usually only a click away from being able to ask a specific question or to ask Ralph for a photograph. We don't want you to buy anything you regret. Ever. The systems above are in place to mitigate this risk. We can give you all the tools in the world but at the end of the day it is your decision. If you choose not to view a violin in person then it is your call how much weight to give the tools we give you. But this is a moot point really isn't it? The system worked in precisely the way it was meant to. Our 360 photography allowed you to see the condition of the instrument and make an informed decision based on it. Message boards are a poor medium for tone - but it feels that you are criticising us for having a system that did was it was meant to, which seems somewhat 'unjust' in the circumstances. I should add though that I have been travelling, hopped into bed in the early hours of this morning and if somebody gave me a cup of tea right now I would probably grumble about the quantity of milk. I did find an interesting cello yesterday though... EDIT: Keeping the original so my shame is complete. @matesic I apologise. On re-reading, I think you were complimenting us and I have been an absolute toad. Sarah B is now laughing at me loudly and I think I owe you a drink! I have no idea who you are, but if floating through the view next time, kick me in the shins please.
  6. Surely the absolute miracle is that, given the number of certificates that Eric has written over the years, that this is the first one in my memory that has been shown to be incorrect. There are over 14,000 known makers and it is frankly astonishing that more mistakes aren't made. Nobody gets everything right every time, but it is notable that Eric seems to get damn close to it. Edited also just to say: 'Kudos' to Will - that was impressive.
  7. I am in danger of spamming this thread - but here are some images:
  8. Afternoon all. Sorry for not jumping in. 1 - @jacobsaundersI will make sure lots of photographs go up tomorrow, but big shout out for @Violadamore because I genuinely had no idea that this was possible from 360. I would be interested (and I don't want to derail the thread, so please DM me if you are willing), to know how much label shots might help in the future. 2 - @martin swan@VioladamoreThank you. You said what I would struggle to do. Thank you. 3 - Also @Violadamore yes. Probably. I think we might be just a little bit tired. This is entirely my fault and I will fix, but we have definitely been running too 'hot' for too long. Worrying that it should be obvious outside the office though! 4 - @Wood ButcherI commented on a previous thread and it genuinely applies to all of you. I would much rather you kicked the tyres and flagged up my mistakes than not. I want to do the best by everyone who uses Amati and that is buyers and sellers. If I screw up, I would much rather know. If this is a bit like the Oscars - many apologies - but it is a genuine shout out to all for kicking the tyres and telling me when I have bodged it. Best wishes to you all and for those who can face it - see you in London. JKB
  9. Fair cop. That's not a three, that is an eight. Which makes *ahem* a bit more sense. Will double, double check tomorrow. As far as the violin goes I don't have problems. As far as my cataloguing goes however... Nub. I need more sleep and better palaeography skills.
  10. @Wood Butcher Nooooo. You did absolutely the right thing. The more public light that is shone on the way we do things the better for everyone. Honestly. Ralph went in early because he takes his work really seriously and didn't want to be the person who messed up. Joyously for him, it was entirely my fault. It will cost me some beer, and hopefully I will learn not to be a grumpy git when I am cataloguing. Never stop doing what you are doing - it keeps me sane. (thank you)
  11. Oh Lord, not another Wilkanowski... @GeorgeH it's worth seeing in person - are you coming to the view?
  12. So here is the update, and for anyone who is interested a look under the hood at Amati. I popped an 'issue', late last night on our slack channel for the auction. I referenced Ralph as obviously it couldn't have been my fault and must be an issue with photography. Ralph - who is currently my hero - seeing this, and taking his job seriously, drove straight to the office at eight on a Saturday morning and compared violin to images. They were the same. The penny dropped, finally. I had catalogued two violins on Monday when I was in an astonishingly bad mood. Having barked at the long-suffering Sarah Churchill for putting the violins in the wrong order (she hadn't), and generally behaved like a spoiled teenager, I started one violin and then catalogued the other. Sorry - and thank you again @Wood Butcher TL:DR - every part of this was my fault and my colleagues are saints to put up with me.
  13. Well. Bother. Thank you @Wood Butcher. I have deleted the images (just in case) but you are absolutely right. Receipt line problem if I were to guess. Will sort, and in a cunning plan, upload the correct images, and then everyone will think you got it wrong. Best wishes to you all - and I hope you have a splendid weekend. James
  14. Ah - understood. Closed cracks are yellow. Not as visible as the scarlet red we use for open cracks, but they are definitely there. Thanks for the clarification and thanks @martin swan for getting there ahead of me. Best wishes to you all - and thank goodness January is over.
  15. Morning Blank Face - always happy to do it on request. It is a bit like label shots, just get in touch and we will ask the photographer to take some. Mostly this is just down to managing the work-load for staff, it's can be challenging aligning all the cataloguing / condition reports / photographs / checks and then pressing the button to put a catalogue live. TL:DR - any special requests, just get in touch!
  16. Morning Jeffrey, You are absolutely right. The table being off makes it a LOT easier to spot repairs etc., and I hope that we mentioned all the condition issues that were there. I have taken a quick look at the condition report for the violin and it seems pretty complete. On a wider point - and please bear with me if this sounds slightly defensive - we take a huge amount of care over our condition reports. Every instrument has its own condition report (unless one slipped through the gaps) and they can take an absolute age to go through. In my Christie's days we didn't do condition reports at all - things have moved a long way in the last twenty years - and if anyone has any suggestions on how to improve them then please DM me, I would love to know. There is a danger of 'whisky tasting' to condition reports, where long days staring at small repairs fry the mind and boil the brain and we can't make any claim that our condition reports are exhaustive (exhausting perhaps). We all make mistakes, but I would like to believe they are a heck of a lot more thorough than anything you would get on Ebay.
  17. On your specific point (with apologies for derailing the discussion), external economic factors may be at play, but currently they are generally positive for the market. A weaker pound will certainly have made an impact, but so too will have been a general intention to get ahead of inflation. The latter is a supposition, but based on this last sale where most instruments went above their high estimate, I suspect a fair one. @martin swan@Yogic et al. This was fun. We should do it more often!
  18. More than one decade but not a plurality of decades. 2005 was kick-off. In a bar off St. James with Laurent Perrier Rosé and an absolute conviction that all would be well.
  19. Morning all - lovely day for it etc. I do feel that there is a conversation to be had about the best way to run an auction house. I don't know a single auction house with a 100% sale rate, so I think we can all be accused of over-promising at points. We value our sale-rate very highly and it is genuinely a key metric for us when we finish an auction, so on this Martin and I are at variance. There are some business reasons - it is more efficient and generally better for the vendor to sell first time; and personal reasons (I don't like letting people down). These points are specific to Amati though. It wouldn't be wise for me to comment on other auction houses as I would be guessing what their motivations were. A couple of quick points from earlier posts though: @GeorgeHIt looks like the market is as strong as ever. In fact Liz Truss while destroying the pound might have even added an extra 2% to last week's auctions. @martin swanNope. I'm not that old. @Yogic Yes. A bit of an over-view of how auction houses work in real-life. I am on my third cup of coffee. Sarah is beside me working through after sale offers (not too many - c.75% of the sale sold on the day) and I am about to start packing for a week on the road, as the January specialist is just round the corner. And, much more importantly, Elena has decided that we can now play Christmas carols in the office from this point. My best (not yet Christmas) wishes to you all, James
  20. Do you think so? I genuinely find that interesting. After each auction we unpick the stats to work out what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong, a large percentage of after-sales is definitely one which would earn me a frosty look from The Boss. Perhaps we need to meet up for a pint in the run up to Christmas? I am very much in a listening frame of mind at the moment.
  21. Being rather interested in auction houses in general and my own in particular, I thought I would add a few of my own suggestions, for what they are worth. Firstly @martin swan while you may be correcting in ascribing a strategy to all the auction houses, I think it is unlikely that much of their character comes from this. Both their ownership structure and the 'immediate' nature of auction houses' business models, lend themselves to a very reactive approach. I don't mean that we don't have strategies, but I think that most auction houses gain their character more from their DNA than from a grand vision. There are qualities that we all have in some measure which play into the auction houses. At its core, perhaps, an appetite for risk, knowledge and integrity. On the whole though I think these are more issues of ethos than strategy. (Side note - I took ages to write this. I don't think the fifth draft is any more cogent than the first - am happy to clarify if I have called it badly)
  22. Dear All, This is utterly my fault - and thank you for flagging it up. At the first pass, I thought the brand looked like that of Fetique. I was wrong - it was Caressa & Francais. I changed it in the title, but it seems I forgot to change the brand in the description. Entirely my fault - changed on the catalogue and a small sale-room notice of shame. Sorry again - and thank you for pointing it out! Best wishes James
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