From my vast experience of visiting private properties over the decades I can confirm that many of the most unexpected, but very pleasant, surprises from the appraisal of an house contents are discovered in the dark and forgotten recesses of kitchen cupboards (or pantries, sculleries and flower rooms of larger properties). They lie almost hidden in plain sight; so close as to be overlooked; half-heartedly abandoned; so little thought-of that they have not even been processed for donation or disposal in the past.
I for one am grateful for this wide-reaching human trait, because its legacy has brightened many a valuation exercise which otherwise would have proved disappointing for both me and my client. Learning early-on in my career that valuable nuggets could likely be unearthed and extracted from modest hidden corners prepared me to be circumspect, watchful and thorough in situations where others may have taken a more half-hearted approach to preparing valuation schedules.
Memories of reaching back past redundant, cracked and sticky crockery and drawing out rare and perfect gems by Clarice Cliff (condemned for being considered garish and tasteless), or solid silver table accessories (outmoded along with the dining etiquette which gave them original purpose), provide me with fresh appetite for investigation each time I’m asked to undertake valuations of antiques and chattels. Equally, for some people, the kitchen cupboard was utilised as the “perfect hiding place”, it’s very mundanity providing absolute security; jewellery and designated valuables have been squirreled away there purposefully, sometimes the secret dying with the consignor. We intrepid cupboard adventurers must be prepared for anything!
Cupboards, kitchen or otherwise, are there to be filled and most of us are guilty of having “shoved something to the back of a cupboard”, leaving it there to languish, out of sight, out of mind. I have observed results of such behaviour within branches of my own family when circumstances have necessitated houses to be emptied and sorted. A kitchen cupboard can be the resting place of items from early married culinary life, perhaps some pieces originally gifted by older generations which have subsequently been overtaken or updated, and never seen, let alone remembered as having ever been used, by subsequent generations. Then, as the years slip by, fashions and tastes change; appreciation returns and quite often, increased financial value with it.
The places of sad abandonment translate to fortuitous safehouses, and valuers, auctioneers, collectors and specialists, are grateful for them! Stunning suites of crystal drinking glasses pushed to the farthest reaches conjure images of candlelit house parties: their fragility has made use more worry than enjoyment. Fine china is overlooked in preference for dish-washer-friendly materials. Silver and quality plated wares have to be polished and maintained: this used to be the important responsibility of domestic staff and in their absence, cleaning time is scarce – plus once shiny, precious metals are perhaps deemed too much of a security-risk to have on show these days. Yet equally, there is interest and demand for such quality pieces and the auction market remains strong for choice examples. Verified and qualified valuers can shed light on the contents of your dark cupboards; specialist auctioneers will be pleased to offer help and guidance regards the marketing and sale of what you have found.
Currently, with the population confined to home, we have the balanced equation: a static audience with time to fill, creatively emptying out cupboards, and captive valuers, such as me, dedicated to providing remote identification and valuations of items and objects via images and emails. A high-tech Spring-clean, as it were. TW Gaze auctions have merely been moth-balled and will be rescheduled as per the sales calendar (published on twgaze.co.uk), as and when safety regulations are removed. Be prepared for their recommencement by having lots ready for entry. Research their values and marketability and plan for an appropriate auction. Complimentary valuations for sale by auction (being market value) are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.