Auction trends: a brief history and how 2019 is shaping up

John Bullock-Anderson, auctioneer of 40+ years, comments on auction trends by the decade and looks at the most popular items going in 2019:


Auction houses suffered in the 1950s-1970s because all the trends were about new and shiny things – telephones, televisions, refrigerators and more were becoming available in homes and everyone wanted their furnishings to match their shiny new toys.


antique trends

The ‘80s and ‘90s saw auction houses begin to thrive again, but the way it worked back then was different to how it works today. Auctions were almost only frequented by antique dealers. It wasn’t accessible for the general public and it was dominated by professional antique dealers who had physical storefronts.

They could purchase lots and then make a profit by pricing individual items above buying cost to sell in their antique stores.

The popularity of eBay in the 1990s and 2000s made collectible items soar in popularity, which is still driving today’s auction trends.


Today’s auction trends are varied, but here are some of the most popular items going at auction:


Vintage signage and advertising memorabilia

A vintage sign for the Spillers flour mill on the riverside at Newcastle, which is believed to have been the tallest flour mill in the world and also the biggest in Europe, fetched £300 at Anderson and Garland’s recent Collector’s sale.

 vintage advertising sign



Retro toys

Two words: Star Wars! Vintage toys evoke nostalgia, and toys from the last four decades have been adored and cared for by a huge generation of geeks.

We recently auctioned more than 5,000 toys and movie props from a toy museum for around £130,000! The top seller was a Star Wars Han Solo for the French market in its original packaging, which went under the hammer for £1,090.


Coins and medals

Global accessibility to provincial auction houses, due to internet bidding platforms, has made the sales of coins and medals increase within the last decade. Expert cataloguing that pays careful consideration to the contents of each lot has also boosted this area.



Vintage watches are at prime-time rates at auction, especially Rolex. A Rolex GMT Master: a gentleman's stainless steel bracelet watch sold for £8,600 in March of this year at Anderson and Garland’s auction house.

selling watches at auction


Guitars and musical instruments

Another range of collector’s items popular at auction are musical instruments and vintage guitars, especially those played by rock stars gone past. Specialist LP records are another area that were shunned for years to make way for the ‘new’ cassettes and CD’s, now some can be worth thousands.


Looking to sell collectibles at auction? Get in touch with the knowledgeable auctioneers at Anderson and Garland for a pre-sale estimate by ringing 0191 4303000, emailing info@andersonandgarland.comor or by visiting




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