Devizes auctioneers can toast vintage year

This Is Wiltshire: Alan Aldridge holding the violin which was played by Wallace Hartley on the Titanic. After the buyer’s fees were taken into account, it sold for more than £1 million          Picture: Thomas Kelsey Alan Aldridge holding the violin which was played by Wallace Hartley on the Titanic. After the buyer’s fees were taken into account, it sold for more than £1 million Picture: Thomas Kelsey

Devizes auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son can look back on 2013 as a vintage year during which they sold their first £1 million item and featured on TV all over the world.

Father-and-son directors, Alan and Andrew Aldridge say they have cemented their place among the premier auctioneers of antiques and collectables in the region, breaking several world records on the way.

Andrew Aldridge said: “The highlight of the year was, of course, the Wallace Hartley violin which sold for over £1 million, but numerous other fascinating pieces were sold to clients all over the world with many examples selling for five-figure sums.

“Another Titanic lot was a letter written on board the ship by Wallace Hartley. He described the liner as a fine ship and there ought to be plenty of money on her. It caused significant interest and sold to an American collector for over £93,000.”

Mr Hartley was the leader of the ship’s orchestra which bravely played while the Titanic foundered. Mr Hartley’s body was recovered from the North Atlantic after the sinking with his violin strapped to him. The Aldridges spent seven years proving the authenticity of the instrument but had their red letter day on October 19 when the violin was sold for the record-breaking sum.

Another collection that attracted international interest was that of Col Young- husband’s 1903 Tibet expedition, including a Sino-Tibetan deity, gilt on white metal, set with the remains of turquoise jewels, measuring only five inches high but which sold for an impressive £45,000.

Although by no means the most valuable lot of the year, an example of the world’s first Christmas card was one of the most interesting. Dating from 1843, this extremely rare lithograph sold for £4,300.

The first sale of 2014 will take place at the company’s Bath Road Business Centre salerooms on February 15. More information is available at www.henry-aldridge.co.uk

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