My best auction buy: Jonathan Pratt15 March 2021 Jonathan Pratt, managing director of Dreweatts and BBC antiques expert
On this day in 2006, Newbury auction house Dreweatts was the first firm to host an online auction on thesaleroom.com. In the first of a series of 15 stories marking our 15th anniversary, we ask Jonathan Pratt, Dreweatts' managing director and regular BBC Bargain Hunt and Flog It! expert, to share his favourite auction buy.
What is your favourite item – that you've bought for yourself – from an auction?
JP: A mahogany bureau. It’s a very typically George III example dating from about 1780, with a plain interior, four cock-beaded drawers, brass handles and bracket feet. Not too wide, a nice colour and cut of wood.
Why do you love it so much?
I love it for many reasons – it is the first piece of Georgian furniture I bought and it reminds me of my student days in Southampton when I started learning about English furniture. Knowing that many people will have sat at it over the years – writing, reading and working, is quite a comforting thought.
I have spent almost every day of the last 12 months working at this desk throughout the lockdowns, as perhaps many others have done before me throughout other challenging times.
When did you buy it, and from where?
I bought it from Bellmans in Sussex in about 2007 and it cost me £500, which I thought was cheap enough at the time!
What was the reason you bought it?
I moved about with work quite a bit in my early career – Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Newbury, so when I finally set down my roots in Petersfield, I could buy bigger furniture. As I was living in a cottage at the time it was a very practical choice.
Do you have any stories about it before you bought it, or since you've owned it?
Before it became my ‘office desk’, it sat in the hall and in 2014 we got a Leonberger puppy. Leonbergers eat a lot and grow very quickly. When they start teething it is on a surprisingly ambitious scale. Dude (sadly now gone) started on the bracket feet of the bureau leaving a permanent reminder but thankfully he quickly progressed on to bigger challenges such as the staircase, ending up chewing the newel post.
Where is it now?
The bureau is in my snug at home, slightly overloaded with an extra monitor balanced on a small pile of books. But provides me with an extremely useful working space at home which, with four children, can be hard to find.
View the latest upcoming auctions at Dreweatts on thesaleroom.com
And if you fancy finding a bureau similar to Jonathan’s you can find a list of upcoming lots here.