Woolley & Wallis



2015-06-26 10:35:53

Woolley & Wallis is an auction house based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. It is situated on the northern side of Salisbury City.

It has been described by Antiques Trade Gazette as “arguably the most exciting provincial saleroom in the country.”

The company was established in 1884.

Woolley & Wallis has auctioned six of the nine lots to have sold for in excess of £1 million in a UK provincial saleroom. In terms of sales, it was the second-highest grossing UK provincial saleroom in 2010.

Expertise and services

According to its website, Woolley & Wallis holds around thirty specialist sales a year spread between nine departments “headed up by leading experts in their field.”

It’s departments and experts comprise 20th century design, Asian Art, books, clocks, European ceramics, furniture, jewellery, paintings, silver and house content sales.

For sellers, Woolley & Wallis offers a free valuation service for any item brought into its Saleroom. Valuers can visits the homes of prospective buyers.


20th Century Design

Woolley & Wallis' 20th Century Design department is headed by Michael Jeffery (Associate Director). It covers broad areas of 20th Century design, including but not limited to:

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Art Nouveau
  • Art Deco
  • Post War Design
  • British Art Pottery
  • Martin Brothers Pottery.

It holds regular specialist and themed auctions, including: glass, ceramics, furniture, metalware, textiles, reference books and works on paper.

The firm regularly sells private collections. In the past these have included that of BBC producer Verity Lambert and of titled eccentric and dealer Lord Parmoor.

Asian Art (including notable sales)

Notable sales in Woolley & Wallis' Asian Art department include a Yuan dynasty double-gourd vase for £2,600,000, the record price for any object sold in a UK provincial auction house.

In May 2009, the department broke this record again with a fine jade water buffalo from the Qianlong period, which sold for a hammer price of £3,400,000. It's May 2010 auction become the then highest-grossing sale ever at any regional auction house in the UK - a record later surpassed at its November 2010 sale.

The top Asian art department outside London.

John Axford is the department's Director and Deputy Chairman.


Woolley & Wallis holds two Book sales a year, alongside the Paintings sales in June and December, including manuscripts, photographs, maps and ephemera alongside antiquarian books, rarities and first editions.


The department was established in 2008 to fulfill a need for specialist sales of clocks, barometers and scientific instruments, previously featured in the firm's Furniture and Works of Art sales. The Clocks department has held two sales a year and last year added Antiques Roadshow specialist Richard Price as a part time consultant.

It is headed by Will Hobbs (Associate Director) and Richard Price (Consultant).

European Ceramics (including notable sales)

Woolley and Wallis describes itself as being "the leading regional auction house for European ceramics in the UK." It holds regular specialist sales with fully illustrated colour catalogues, selling either single pieces or collections. Says its website:

John Axford [department Director] is credited with the discovery of the only known Limehouse figure, which although broken, fetched £22,000 in 2005. Two years later he identified an 18th century English porcelain cup as A marked porcelain; only the 41st piece of this class of porcelain to be discovered it went on to make £13,000.

The ceramics department also holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a piece of Welsh porcelain: a 10 inches Nantgraw vase which fetched £30,000.


The department holds four sales of English and Continental Furniture and Works of Art each year, including: Arms and Armour, Garden Ornaments, Rugs, Carpets and Textiles are also included in these sales on a regular basis. The department also handles collections of Oceanic and Tribal Art. Will Hobbs and Mark Richards are the department's Associate Directors.


The department is headed by Jonathan Edwards FGAA and Marielle Whiting, holding regular sales and offering free over the counter sale valuations. According to the Jewellery page of Woolley & Wallis' website:

The strength of the jewellery market is reflected in the results of our quarterly sales. In April 2012 a pair of early 20th Century natural pearl and diamond drop earrings was sold for £1,400,000. Generally the strongest demand is for the upper end of the market, however our sales cover the whole range. Gold, diamonds and coloured stones seem to rise in price weekly which certainly underpins the market. The jewellery department is one of the leaders in the field outside London.


Woolley and Wallis holds regular auctions of oil paintings, watercolours, prints and miniatures, ranging from the 16th to 21st Centuries. The department sells studio collections as well as single works of art. The department's contacts are Victor Fauvelle and Jo Butler.

Silver (including notable sales)

The department's auctions have offered flatware, nutmeg graters and vinaigrettes to fine Georgian coffee pots. Notable collections sold by Woolley and Wallis' jewellery department include:

  • The Edwards collection in which the Elizabethan Tredegar salt, sold for £140,000
  • The G L Cookson collection, which included a silver mazer (feeding bowl) dating from 1547, sold for £205,000.

Single item lots in the department's sales have included:

  • A rare early 19th century Scottish provincial mug, by John Sellar, Wick. Sold for £14,000
  • A rare George VI silver-gilt presentation vase and stand, by Philip Rundell, London. Sold for £95,000
  • A late Victorian Guild of Handicrafts silver gem-set beaker by Charles R. Ashbee. Sold for £12,500.

Other notable sales

Woolley & Wallis has sold six of nine UK lots to have made over a million pounds at regional auction houses.

It’s top lot was a Chinese spinach-green jade water buffalo, sold for a hammer price of £3.4m in 2009.

In 2010, its Asian Art sale became the then highest-ever grossing sale for a provincial auction house. Grossing £7.3m, the sale eclipsed the equivalent sales at all three of the London salerooms, according to the company's website.

The firm’s gross annual turnover of £23.6m in 2010 made it the second highest provincial saleroom.

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