Monday, November 25, 2013

The Gavel falls for the last time

John Simmons calculates he has sold an average of 400 items a week, 48 weeks of the year in his career - about 864,000 objects in total, but now the
Saltburn Salerooms auctioneer of 45 years will lower his gavel one last time tomorrow (Tuesday, November 26), and so close one of the region’s most famous auction rooms.

Saltburn Salerooms, officially known as JC Simmons & Son Ltd, has a history dating back at least 84 years and will also close with Mr Simmons' retirement.

Mr Simmons said the most memorable item he has sold was almost exactly one year ago. His team were cataloguing a house clearance, with nothing of particular value, when they noticed some old James Bond books by Ian Fleming.

Seven of them were first editions, but one, a copy of Live and Let Die, was even rarer.

After the first few copies of the book were printed, the press was stopped in order to make changes to information on the dust jacket in order give Ian Fleming credit for helping design the imagery.

The book in Mr Simmons' auction room was one of the very few printed with the original information and was eventually sold for £13,800.

“It could easily have been overlooked,” said Mr Simmons, “but after 45 years I suppose you start to get a little knowledge. Every now and again something crops up. It’s been a very interesting job, there’s something different all the time.

“I announced we were going to close several weeks ago in the auction room and everyone went silent but I had to explain 45 years is a long time. It’s not just me, other people are also retirement age."

“We’ve had a tremendous number of well-wishers. One lady who is 94 came in who said she first visited when she was ten years old, so it’s been going at least 84 years.”

Mr Simmons explained his father began working for the previous owner, Mr Dickinson, after he came back from the war in 1946. Mr Simmons’ father took over the business in 1966 and eventually it was passed on to his son.

Mr Simmons' two daughters have their own careers and family commitments so have no plans to take the business on.

“We plan to see our grandchildren a lot and I enjoy sea-fishing and walking,” said Mr Simmons, who went on to pay tribute to his wife, Victoria, company secretary, “who has been with me since day one.”

The final sale will be held at the Diamond Street auction room on Tuesday, November 26.

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