Monday, August 09, 2010

Great Western Auctions, Glasgow

  Finally bit the bullet and found our way to the Great Western Auctions in Glasgow. This is a large auction house, on the west side of the city, and we had been meaning to go there for a long time but various other commitments had always intervened. On Friday, seeing from the online catalogue that a very large lot of old linens was listed, we set off early for viewing day. The auction house is in Whiteinch, along the Dumbarton Road and we only managed to get lost three or four times on the way there! (Glasgow must have the worst set of road signs of any major city in the western world, and we don't have sat nav. I have managed to get comprehensively lost, driving about Glasgow, more times than I care to remember.) The auction house is a large building which looks like an old church.  I had a good rummage through the linen, which contained some spectacularly beautiful pieces, and decided that it would be well worthwhile to attend the sale. The following day - having only got lost once this time, though that involved almost heading through the Clyde Tunnel and finding ourselves back on the wrong side of the river! - we attended the sale.
The Auction House is tucked away beside a lovely old pub called Granny Gibbs. You can read a bit more about Granny Gibb herself, here but meanwhile the present day pub is handsomely decorated with flowers and hanging baskets, and extraordinarily friendly. With time to spare, we went in search of tea. The pub is currently having a new kitchen added, and they aren't serving teas or coffees but the lovely lady behind the bar made us big mugs of tea and chocolate biscuits, and then wouldn't take any payment, but just asked us to put something in the charity box on the counter! I've a feeling this is the sort of thing that only happens in Glasgow and it's one of the reasons why people fall in love with the city!
The Auction Rooms were friendly too - all the staff were cheerful and helpful and its a place I'd be delighted to go back to again. I'm sure I will. The linens were sold quite late in  the day, and I managed to buy them, bidding nerve rackingly against TWO telephone bidders. (Not something that usually happens with linens!) I paid rather more than I wanted, but not quite as much as I thought I might have to. A few lots later, I watched several boxes of vintage clothes hitting the roof in terms of price, and was rather glad that I hadn't wanted them! But, of course, Glasgow is a great centre for vintage fashions, with lots of extremely fashion conscious students and other people, and a plethora of gorgeous vintage shops.
Now begins the real work of sorting, and deciding what can be sold, what can't, what needs laundering and ironing - a huge task - and what is perhaps better left in its original condition. There is so much of it, that this could take a whole week. I'll post more about some of the individual pieces, which are stunning, as time goes by. But one little fact emerged which I did not know, and it's part of what fascinates me about old textiles, and how much they still have to teach me. Among the linens was an old, unused, boxed Madeira tablecloth and napkins, very pretty, with its labels still attached. These told me that - as you can see from the picture above - they were made in 'Madeira Island' - of Irish (or Iresh, as one of the labels reads) linen. I've been admiring old Madeira tablecloths for years without ever realising that they were embroidered on imported Irish linen!
The Great Western Auctions


Erna said...

Goodmorning Catherine, what a lovely story to start this dull Dutch day with.Even with a sat nav one could get lost in Glasgow, yet it's the city I love most in this world.I'm curious to see the rest of the linen you bought.Thanks for sharing..and enjoy sorting all this presents out
Erna xx

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I love Glasgow too. I'll post some more pictures of the linens over the next few weeks. It's now been sorted into boxes of bed linen, table linen, miscellaneous things - but there's such a lot of it!