Published: May 22, 2018
Guy Savill and Sally Stratton are the dynamic duo of the English furniture market, who met in the mid-1990s while working for Phillips, and subsequently ran the furniture sales at Bonhams’ Bond Street salesroom before the department was closed. The two recently launched The Pedestal, an online auction company that innovates by selling traditional English furniture backed by extensive specialist knowledge and a savvy social media presence. Antiques & The Arts Weekly reached out to them for more on what sets them apart.
Why did you decide to launch an auction house as opposed, to say, becoming dealers or advisors?
(SS) On leaving Bonhams, we were keen to develop our online presence and offer online selling on behalf of a variety of different clients. Having come out of long careers with major auction houses, we wanted to develop other avenues but realized that the auction process was what we were known for. We see ourselves as a more modern fluid business, and, while we hold live traditional auctions and sell at a fixed price online, we do also work on private sales and advise clients.
Have you had a good reception since you launched?
(GS) Yes, certainly, we have been hugely encouraged by the support of the trade, private collectors, agents and new clients. There has been an appreciation of our flexible model as well as our specialist knowledge. We have continued to offer high-quality catalogs, with an emphasis on great photography and presentation, as well as catalog footnotes, which people have greatly appreciated. As a young business, this has been a great asset to us.
As I understand it, your offices are separate from Moor Park, where you conduct your sales. Tell me about Moor Park and why it appeals to you?
(SS) Moor Park is a prominent Eighteenth Century mansion just outside London, which was once home to important Eighteenth Century furniture — including the celebrated Moor Park suite designed by Robert Adam — that has since been dispersed. Currently a country club, it is largely unfurnished, which provides a perfect backdrop to showcase period furniture and objects. We considered selling in central London but felt that the benefits of the mansion, parking and other facilities outweighed this. We have an office just behind the Victoria & Albert Museum, where we meet clients and maintain our London presence. We very much like the “pop up” idea allowing us, as we develop, to choose venues suited to the category.
What are some of the notable / surprising results?
(SS) We were pleased with the $42,250 (including premium) realized for both a kingwood cabinet on stand attributed to Thomas Pistor and a Queen Anne japanned double dome bureau cabinet. We had a surprise result with a relatively modest Seventeenth Century oak coffer that, although estimated at $3,3/5,300, realized $26,256, including premium.
Other than traditional marketing, do you utilize social media to get the word out? Are you able to attract younger buyers?
(GS) Photographing items in Moor Park’s period interiors gives us strong images for social media, and, as with many art businesses, we favor Instagram. We are still reliant on many traditional buyers who aren’t as easy to connect with through social media, so we have continued to run special previews and talks alongside our auctions. We both promote The Pedestal through our own Insta accounts in conjunction with our company account, allowing us to personalize our own posts and connect with our individual networks. We will be launching our new website in the autumn, which has been designed to showcase fresh and exciting editorial content. In combination with our social media presence, the new site will provide a channel through which we will connect with a new audience.
So many of the large auction houses have consolidated their furniture sales and staff in those departments — has this left a void in the market you can / are trying to capitalize on?
(GS) We certainly feel that there was a void and hope that we have given people an alternative specialist auction both for buying and consigning. We believe that there is strong interest in this market and that it is important that good things are well catalogued and presented. Our aim is to encourage a new generation of collectors and furnishers to look at the wide range of styles and periods that one can draw from when creating an interior. We are hugely conscious of an emerging generation for whom the ethical production of modern furniture is going to be a major issue. There are so many options for buyers, from Seventeenth Century pieces to Midcentury Modern, all of which provide interesting alternatives to something modern and throw away. It is important that buyers remain aware of the diversity and beauty of antique furniture, and where you can go to buy it.
—Madelia Hickman Ring
May 30, 2023
May 23, 2023
May 16, 2023
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm