Treasures from your home

Published by Jo White on 11 October 2023

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One of the things that people often overlook when they are considering writing their will or inheritance tax planning is the value of their things. There seems to be a perception that all art, antiques and collectors’ items are ‘brown’ and not of significant value, but this could not be further from the truth in many collecting fields.

There have been significant changes in the values of art, antiques and collectors’ items in recent years and it is important to make sure that you have a valuation that it is up to date. We are increasingly being asked to prepare valuations at market value for will and inheritance tax planning, and for insurance on an indemnity basis at the same time. The values for insurance are usually very much higher to reflect retail prices, allowing people to make sure that they are properly insured and paying the correct premiums. Two valuations for the price of one.
Amongst the markets which have continued to see continued growth in values are jewellery, gentlemen’s wristwatches, Chinese porcelain and works of art, fine paintings, coins, stamps, books and other collectors’ fields.

A late 19th-century necklace in the garland style, set with emeralds and old mine-cut and rose-cut diamonds, reflected these trends, selling at Toovey’s for £40,000. Its style was influenced by France’s Belle Époque, which spanned the late 19th century up until the start of the Great War in 1914. Characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, scientific and technological advances, it was an era in which the arts flourished, influencing the tastes of other nations including our own.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, England’s wealth was at its height and demand for fine jewellery had never been higher. Jewellery from the period combines opulence with graceful lines, set with a variety of gems, often in the garland style, which influenced the production of almost all jewellery houses in the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Louis Cartier was considered the master of the garland style.

Rolex diving watches have been design-icons since their introduction in 1953 and Rolex remains one of the strongest brands in the world. They were the first diving watches to be waterproof to 330 feet. A ‘Submariner’ made in 1967, with its leather strap, realised £10,000 in a Toovey’s specialist watch sale.

Pieces which reflect traditional English country house taste in that beautiful, layered, eclectic, unpretentious way, often reflecting the interests of successive generations of a family, have frequently proven less buoyant, except for that narrower seam of fine and rare objects.

I discovered such a piece on a tile hearth in a Surrey cottage. The rare Martin Brothers stoneware model of a grotesque tortoise was dated March 1904. Its head and two front legs poked out from beneath its naturalistic shell with a mirthful facial expression. The family had never valued it. Their late mother had discovered it broken and dug it up in the garden. They had often teased her about her ‘ugly’ tortoise. But she had loved it and she was right. I sold it for them at auction for £17,000!

As you prepare your will and inheritance planning, renew your insurance or prepare to downsize, an up-to-date valuation is important as you plan for the future.

To find out more about how Kreston Reeves can help you with your will and inheritance planning, contact us today.

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