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Bargain Hunt’s Tim Wonnacott is auctioning off his own antiques

PUBLISHED: 09:40 14 November 2018

Tim Wonnacott unpacking at Sworders. Picture: Sworders

Tim Wonnacott unpacking at Sworders. Picture: Sworders

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From a Georgian nipple shield to a diamond dustpan - The former presenter of the popular BBC show Bargain Hunt is flogging his exotic collection of antiques in Essex.

An electroplated cigar stand and vesta holder. Picture: Stephen BakerAn electroplated cigar stand and vesta holder. Picture: Stephen Baker

Mr Wonnacott, who is also the former Chairman of Sotheby’s, is now parting ways with more than 250 treasured art, antiques and objects at Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Stansted Mountfitchet.

Mr Wonnacott presented on BBCs ‘Bargain Hunt’, in which couples compete to make the most money at auction, for 13 years, and featured in a mammoth 1,300 episodes. While patrolling markets, auctions and antique centres, he could feed his own appetite for collecting.

A George III silver nipple shield by Phipps & Robinson, London, 1805. Estimate: £200-300,Picture: Stephen BakerA George III silver nipple shield by Phipps & Robinson, London, 1805. Estimate: £200-300,Picture: Stephen Baker

“Collecting is an infectious drug, one that stays with you all your life,” Mr Wonnacott explained.

“It has been really difficult deciding what to sell and what to keep. Space of course is a major consideration and objects with keen family or personal and emotive connections are all in the potential ‘keep category.’ BUT, even then, the choices are far from easy.

Nephrite box and South Seas nut. Picture: Stephen BakerNephrite box and South Seas nut. Picture: Stephen Baker

“Like ones children, one should never show favouritism, even for objects. But some of the pieces which Sworders will offer on the 4th December are so idiosyncratic and ‘one-off’, that saying goodbye is particularly painful.”

Beautifully crafted and from an early period (late 16th century), the Rheinish carving showing Herod and Salome (estimated for sale at £5,000-7,000) was once in The Welby Collection.

Rheinish carving showing Herod and Salome. Picture: SwordersRheinish carving showing Herod and Salome. Picture: Sworders

“I remain in awe of the quality of the carved detail” says Mr Wonnacott. “As far as intrigue or a sense of mystery is concerned, the Birmingham 1905 silver and nephrite heart shaped box containing a bean from the Caribbean, swept by the Gulf Stream and deposited on a romantic Scottish beach, so beloved by the discoverer, that he (or she) had a silver box made and engraved to record the event in 1905 takes the biscuit.”

The lot is estimated for sale at £300-500.

Diamond scoop. Picture: Stephen BakerDiamond scoop. Picture: Stephen Baker

Another of Mr Wonnacott’s curiosities is a solid silver diamond scoop in the form of a dustpan, bought in 1987 from silversmiths Heath and Middleton. “To have so many loose diamonds lying around that you needed such a utensil, is in itself intriguing,” he said.

The scoop will be auctioned on the 4th December with an estimate of £150-200.

A George III nine bottle oval cruet stand. Picture: Stephen BakerA George III nine bottle oval cruet stand. Picture: Stephen Baker

The first wave of items will be offered for sale in Sworders’ Fine Interiors sale on 4-5 December 2018, with other selected sections appearing in subsequent Sworders auctions in 2019.

A fully illustrated catalogue will be published later this month and all lots will be available to view on Friday November 30 at Sworders.

Edwardian silver and nephrite novelty trinket box. Picture: Stephen BakerEdwardian silver and nephrite novelty trinket box. Picture: Stephen Baker

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