Published: July 19, 2022
There’s a new auction house in town. In Peterborough, N.H., to be precise. Nick Prior and Molly Williams, partners in both professional and personal capacities, have filled the local spot left vacant when The Cobbs closed up shop in the spring of 2022. Always curious to meet new faces in the field, we reached out to the couple to find out more about them and what they hope to do in the new venture.
For those of our readers who don’t know you yet, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Nick Prior (NP): I moved to Peterborough from New York City to work for Charlie and Dudley Cobb of the Cobbs Auctioneers almost a decade ago. While with the Cobbs, I produced the photography and designed the printed material, and assisted in cataloging and many other roles a small auction house requires. I previously worked at Bonhams in New York as a photographer and designer with a focus on sculpture and fine art. Molly joined The Cobbs in 2015, initially to assist with photography and administration. Her lifelong passion for art, antiques and jewelry drove her to take on more roles with The Cobbs over the years. By their last auction in April, she was director of operations and the head of the jewelry department. Molly is also in the process of obtaining her Graduate Gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America. We live together in Peterborough.
You’ve recently started Peterborough Auctions. Can you share some details about the firm and what was behind that decision?
Molly Williams (MW): By the time The Cobbs were seriously discussing retirement several years ago, I was deeply involved in the business and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Charlie and Dudley encouraged me to become a licensed auctioneer, and for us to start our own venture to fill part of the void that they would leave behind, providing auction services for their client base here in the Monadnock region. Nick and I were a couple by that time in every respect, including various side projects like graphic design work and freelance consulting, and we decided the time was right to go all in on a future together doing work we love. We are currently located just down the hall from The Cobbs former auction hall in the same building, Historic Noone Falls in Peterborough, N.H.
What are some of the highlights of your inaugural auction, which will take place on July 30?
MW: Our first auction has silver, jewelry and fine art. Of the silver, the Buccellati sterling silver service for 12 stands out to me. It’s the Empire-Impero pattern, and the pieces are in fabulously well-cared-for condition. We have some estate and antique jewelry from the same Cape Cod private collection as well, and a classic Art Deco diamond and ruby ring that I personally really love.
NP: In terms of the artwork, two pieces jump out to me as the most interesting because of the intrigue unearthed in cataloging them. One is a colorful 1940 cityscape painting of Utuado, Puerto Rico, by George Warrek. Warrek is best known for his sculpture, academic career and political dissidence in the 1930s, which led him to Puerto Rico, where he lived most of his life. I don’t know how that little gem ended up in a barn in New Hampshire, but I’m glad it did. The other is an 1890s painting by Frederick Swynnerton, depicting a mosque somewhere in the Ottoman Empire. The artist’s story is fascinating and few of his works are known.
How frequently do you imagine Peterborough Auctions will conduct sales?
NP: Like The Cobbs Auctioneers, we anticipate quarterly auctions with flexibility for specialty sales. Our auctions will be open to the public for in-house preview with phone and absentee bidding available and we are partnered with Liveauctioneers and Bidsquare for online bidding.
What’s the local response to your new venture been?
MW: The announcement of our new venture made during The Cobbs final auction in April was met with great positivity and support. As this is our inaugural auction, we are excited to see familiar faces as well as some new ones. We are hosting an evening cocktail hour during the preview week to share with the community and celebrate the first auction.[Editor’s note: Peterborough Auctions will host a cocktail and preview party from 5 to 7 pm on Thursday, July 28. The event, at 50 Jaffrey Road, Suite 6, is open to the public; RSVP is not necessary. For information, 603-933-9947 or www.peterboroughauctions.us.]
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