This summer Freeman’s welcomes a young industry voice to share his thoughts abroad, as he completes an internship at Freeman’s sister auction house, Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh. At just 16, Noble Brigham is an avid collector of antiques and enjoys finding the story in each treasure he finds.
History Through Objects: Lyon and Turnbull Summer Internship, Part Eight
By Noble Brigham
I am sad to be in my last week at Lyon & Turnbull. The work has been interesting, everyone has been very nice to me and I have enjoyed my independence.
Monday, Paul and I went to London for the Masterpiece art fair. It was exciting both because I have never been to London and because it is one of the biggest art fairs in the world. It was on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and featured some of the best fine art and antique dealers in the world. Everything was very beautiful and very expensive. I particularly liked the antique clocks. There were some really great 18th century English ones. I also saw a great aesthetic movement corner cabinet.
Tuesday, everyone was working on getting ready for the auction July 4th. I worked on a write up for two prints that will be in a future art sale. Write ups are used to accompany more distinguished pieces in a sale, telling the history of their maker and the history of the specific piece. I then researched Paul and Stephanie’s home, a former watermill on the Water of Leith (the river which runs through Edinburgh). It has a long and interesting history as a paper (including banknotes) and flour mill. I worked from the Central Library, a beautiful turn of the century building near the café where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. The building has around 9 stories and serves as a repository for the history of city and modern literature. I researched from the Edinburgh Room and was able to find quite a bit of interesting information.
Wednesday, was the Fine Furniture & Works of Art sale. Given that I was half asleep from jet lag for the last sale, this was my first real sale. I spent most of the day entering results for lots into the database used to keep track of everything involved in the sale, and also handled some telephone bids.
Telephone bidding is terrifying and there is a protocol for it. In general, you say “good morning,” introduce yourself and confirm the lot. Then you walk them through the bidding, and they tell you if they want to bid. It is important to be professional and considerate and to use pronouns like “we” and “us” to let them know you are on their team. I telephone bid on perhaps 15 lots. The bidder was a friend of Paul’s who I have met, so it was low risk for me. I made several mistakes: I said his first name out loud, I used the auctioneers name instead of madam, and I nearly bid higher than he wanted to go on one lot, but overall things went well, and I secured several lots on behalf of my client.
About the Author
Noble Brigham just finished his sophomore year at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. History is his favorite subject and he is fascinated by the events of the past and their impact on the present.
His affinity for antiques and the stories they tell motivate his research where he often finds first owners, original use, and even how they’ve been displaced with new purposes.
At school, Brigham writes and proofreads for the school newspaper, The Scholium. He is the co-president of Young Democrats and is an Historical Researcher for the state board of High School Democrats of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of World Affairs and Model UN. Next year he will found an Archives Club, which will work to preserve and interpret Philadelphia and Episcopal Academy history.