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Ashley Matthews

Ashley Matthews joined Dreweatts Furniture & Clock departments as a cataloguer and specialist having previously worked for the business as a porter.

He has a degree in Humanities with Art History from the Open University.

Prior to joining Dreweatts Ashley worked for two other auctioneers in the South West from where he started to acquire the specialist knowledge required in order to catalogue. He now runs the Interiors sales at Donnington Priory as well as assisting in the cataloguing of other sales in the calendar.

In his time at Dreweatts he has worked on the on-site cataloguing of various single owner collections including The Contents of Finchcocks Musical Museum, Kent, The Piet Jonker Collection, the Netherlands and Abbotswood, Gloucestershire: Selected Contents.

A George III mahogany birdcage tripod supper table
circa 1760, 73cm high, the top 89cm diameter,
Est. £600-800 (+fees)

Ahead of The Summer Sale, 15th August, we talk with Ashley Matthews about his favourite upcoming and past lots and how he got started in the auction world

Dreweatts: What is your favourite piece in the upcoming auction?

Ashley: Lot 336 – A George III mahogany birdcage tripod supper table (showing right) – I like its understated elegance. It is simple and a nice example of its type with interesting pierced sections to the scroll supports.

Also, lot 169 – a shoulder mount of a bull elk or moose, Alces Alces. It is a magnificent moose with great character, whose presence would enhance any country house – don’t moose out on it!

What was the first antique you ever acquired?

A silver pocket watch, which I bought for £25. Originally, I was interested in silver, and that is what I spent most of my time cataloguing at Rendells, in Ashburton. Then the opportunity came up for me to join the Furniture department at Dreweatts which offered a fresh challenge and the opportunity for me to expand my knowledge. It is the researching which I really enjoy when cataloguing furniture.

A preserved shoulder mount of a bull elk or moose, alces, alces
20th century, 80cm protuberance
Est. £1,000-1,500 (+ fees)

Why and when did you start in the business?

My interest in antiques started when I used to frequent antique stores with my mother when I was young during the summer holidays. The antique I remember most was a cello and I fell instantly in love. From then on it was then a toss-up, either become a cellist or an auctioneer, after three abortive years of cello lessons (sorry mum!) and when I was 15, I got work experience at Dukes, in Dorchester and haven’t looked back since!

A favourite piece: octagonal wardrobe, by Robinson of Ilkley

What was the best piece and then your favourite thing you ever sold?

My favourite piece would probably be an octagonal wardrobe by Robinson of Ilkley, (showing right), possibly for use on campaign, which was sold at Rendells. It is the one item I’ve seen sold which I wish I had bought for myself.

Then, by far the most exciting piece I’ve witnessed being sold were a pair of the San Marco panels by Fra Angelico which were once looted by Napoleon. These were offered at Dukes. The gavel finally coming down at £1.7 million.

At Dreweatts, possibly the most exciting lot was the Crane incense burners which made £100,000 in the Fine Asian sale in 2015.

The elephant hawkmoth or Deilephila elpenor

What job would you have if you weren’t in the auction would?

I would have loved to have been a ranger on a nature reserve, particularly recording moths. The Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor is my favourite, as it is probably the most exotic looking native moth we have.

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