Auction houses are widening their auction repertoire; their traditional ceramics, furniture and fine art auctions are being accompanied by the sale of ‘things of purpose’ aka rural bygones auctions. That’s due to the fact that these items are selling well to buyers of both decorative items and collectables.

Kitchenalia from the past often leads the way on hammer price; attractive and well-made, in wood, metal and enamel, small pieces of household history such as vintage cream bowls, coffee grinders, and bread bins proudly sport a time-worn patina that has helped them become interesting talking points.

Whilst a key item from 1940s wash days, dolly tubs, sell at a premium. Fashioned from galvanised ribbed metal and about two feet high, dolly tubs often come with a posser or ponch (once used for clockwise or anti-clockwise and up and down agitation of dirty laundry).

Outside in the tool shed, vintage woodworking tools are on a saleroom high, fruit wood handled chisels make very good prices, and quality measuring and marking tools dating back to the era of craftsman-built furniture create strong interest. And it isn’t just the tools, even their chests spark competition among the bidders – whether with contents or empty.

Certainly, the Drew Pritchard effect has drawn interest in items that can be described as ‘industrial’, which can be modified or repurposed to create a designer look for modern homes. An industrial item from the workshop such as machinist’s lamp will reach heady heights on the auction rostrum.

The dairy is also providing a rich seam of auction lots with increased interest in all manner of vintage pieces from butter churns to alloy milk cans, right down to the small pieces such as dairy thermometers, butter pats, and especially the carved blocks used to pattern the finished butter.

Moving to the farmyard, we see vintage ploughs and agricultural stills selling on to customers planning on painting them as decorative articles. Old turnip cutters, cake breakers and straw choppers are also very popular lots, which too become industrial decorative features.

Even agricultural vehicles such as vintage tractors are collectable. The restoration project being as much about the search for original parts as the finished article. Collectors really take pride in the tractor’s revival to former glory.

So the Bygone Auction looks like it is here to stay – how wonderful for us locally, that we can celebrate our rural Cumbrian past and raise the profile of items that still have both purpose and beauty. Even if that purpose and beauty isn’t as it was originally.

Rural Bygones Auction: Saturday June 9th 2018. Please keep an eye on our auctions page for lot listings when they’re available.