Do not misunderstand my intentions here. When I say visit your local auction, I mean visit, see and invest wisely. If you have no idea , ask for advice, if you do know, walk carefully as there are many fakes in the small auctions, which give you no guarantee whatever the purchase is.

The following entry is one of those where to me, there was no doubt of authenticity, no competition either. I was granted serious money because no other visitor to that auction had the knowledge I had.

Bargain at my doorstep can pay for the Dawson Gabriel Deschamps (French, [1919- ] Twentieth century artist of French landscapes, well collected and popular at auctions in the UK. Auction price range £500-3000)

A similar piece but much bigger in dimensions!!

I was back in London that Saturday hoping that something else might happen quickly and the Dawson problem would be solved. Sunday for me was viewing of various auctions in two or three different places in London. That included North West Auctions in North London where from time to time the odd worthwhile painting appeared in their weekly auctions and nearly always at a bargain price. On that Sunday in August 1987 I was not expecting anything extraordinary after the Saturday miracle at Eastbourne. A second miracle within days was too much to ask. Nevertheless, Lady Luck was looking after me and I was moving around to make things happen. Covering nearly half the display wall of the auction was a huge impressive landscape with a style and colouring that was immediately recognizable to me. On approaching I was spellbound. There it was, signed to the bottom right G. Deschamps or Gabriel Deschamps. The painting looked magnificent, fresh, clean and straight from a home. That was the possible solution to the problem called Montague Dawson, but could I buy it at that ridiculous estimate? Would I be going back to Stacy-Marks again the following weekend? Deschamps was another one of his artists!
Monday evening! Auction time and hopes increased. Buying the painting for fifty pounds would have been a God-end gift. Finchley auctions did not attract too experienced dealers. I was sure of that. I waited patiently and quietly. Cool, cold and calculating, the hunter took aim hiding behind the large items of furniture. I wanted nobody to see me, to smell my presence. The situation was grave; I wanted the Dawson problem solved that very night.
The loud voice of the auctioneer still echoes in my ears. Loud, crisp and clear. Why didn’t he become a singer? Great voice for that profession! Deschamps is in view and up for sale. “Thirty pounds I have,” he shouted out. Easy mister, I need a bargain, do not wake them up. “Thirty-two, thirty-four, thirty-six, thirty-eight … forty-five I have and I am selling at forty-five,” he boomed. The hammer came blissfully down and I became the owner of the Deschamps shy of fifty pounds, including commissions. I can still see the auctioneers beaming face. However, all the smiles were mine!
I walked out of the crammed auction to take a breath of fresh air. I could not digest the event. I could not believe that such conspiracies of luck happened to normal humans. How could I be so lucky and privileged? Lady Luck, my protectress, had provided me with another opportunity to raise the remaining sum for the Dawson painting. Luck had been good to me again, but it was also invaluable knowledge of art that had enabled me to seize this opportunity. Forty-nine pounds and a few pence I paid that very night and off I set with the beautiful Deschamps. What did I buy? The canvas, the paints, the frame or what? It was a ridiculously low price, but hey, that was auctions for you with the great opportunities offered to all. My second trip to Eastbourne was as successful as the first one – no hassles and no arguments at £1500. I had struck another great deal with the old Stacy-Marks and solved an immense problem hanging over my head. Four trades within a month, under such circumstances, were not only hugely rewarding but also didactic.
• Sell to galleries privately even if the profits might be slightly less.
• Knowledge of the stock of galleries is important.
• Daredevil investments might cause serious money problems and lead to litigation, if one fails to pay.
• Luck is an important ally, but knowledge is a battle winner.

Peter Constant

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