People often ask me what motivates me after being in the auction business for over 40 years.

The story below is one such reason.

We were approached by a small local charity recently who had found a banner that had been in their cupboard for over 10 years. They were trying to raise money for their work with the elderly in their community and hoped it may sell for something. They had no idea if it had any value.

It was in fact a very rare Suffragette banner, and I knew I had a unique piece of history. I realised that this was a very important item and I was really excited to research it. Three of the edges of the banner are marked Manchester – Women’s Social & Political Union, and the centre in purple with First in the fight – Founded by Mrs Pankhurst – 1903.

We asked who it had come from, saying it was really important to find out who it belonged to. The charity workers said they used to look after an old man. When he died 10 years ago he left all the household contents to them because he had no other family. His mother had come from Manchester. If she wasn’t a member of the WSPU, she must have been a big supporter of the Suffragettes and this was her banner, or she had been left with it. She moved to Leeds in the 1930s and had a family and they lived there ever since. That’s all they could tell us, but that tied up with the fact it was a Manchester banner. The charity had been given the mother’s supposed name, believed to be Edna White, and then I started searching for any connection to the Manchester Suffragettes, but couldn’t find anything. The People’s History Museum in Manchester drew a blank too, but ‘Edna’ might just have been a supporter or a minor member.

The museum was also able to help with the manufacturer of the banner, noted on a label sewn on to the back as Thomas Brown. It confirmed Brown made banners in Manchester at that time.

We advertised the banner extensively and the auction was live on June 20th on the internet reaching 110 countries and generating lots of interest. On sale day bidding came down to a UK collector/dealer and a representative of the People’s History Museum in Manchester, both in the saleroom. The banner eventually sold for £16,500 including premiums and went to the collector!

The charity is over the moon with the results and we are delighted we were able to sell such a wonderful piece of history.

Dear Gary

I have a few items I would like to submit for auction following a valuation if possible. I have tried in vain to find out their origin but would really appreciate your expert advice. The first is an Art Deco statue which we believe has a marble/concrete base. It is approximately 14″ tall and is in good condition. The other two items both have an N with a 5 ‘fingered’ crown on the base (see pics). The second statue – a mother and her child – stands approx 7″ tall. The third – a man and woman sitting by a tree – is approx 8″ tall. There are a lot of delicate flowers on this one and one or two are missing a few petals. There is also a small hole in her mesh skirt sadly.

Kind regards 

Thank you for your email.

Your two porcelain statues are made by Capodimonte in Italy. The story of Capodimonte began in 1743 when King Charles VII of Naples opened the Royal Manufactury of Porcelain which became famous for its moulded figurines and decorative modelled flowers.

In the 1960’s – 70’s, this porcelain became very popular in Britain and many other factories in the Capodimonte area produced thousands of similar items at lesser quality and cheaper prices to keep up with the export market. Unfortunately these figurines are not in fashion now and would prove difficult to sell.

The Art Deco statue looks to be a reproduction, but I would need to see it to judge that. The original ones were made of bronze and many were signed by the artists. These can be very valuable depending on the artist.

Hi Gary

I have this thistle brooch, would it be worth anything.


Thank you very much for sending me your image of your silver thistle brooch.

We would need to see the hallmarks to determine when, where and by whom it was made.

Lots of manufacturers have produced these thistle brooches over the years and there are many examples for sale on the internet between £30 – 60.

I hope that helps.


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