Meet the team Monday - Picture specialist Bill Lacey

Introducing our picture specialist and very own masterpiece, Bill Lacey, who shares a memory from his childhood and an insight in to his love of Art & Antiques with one of his favourite finds and his ultimate dream find!

Early beginnings.....

"If a visitor to one of our Tuesday valuation days bought this metal fly ashtray to be assessed I would politely suggest that they should put it back in the cupboard. It has very little monetary value but it means the world to me.

My Grandma gave me the fly many, many years ago when I was about ten years old. She was not a wealthy woman but had managed to bring up three children single handed, her husband dying when my father was just a small boy. Her terraced house in Gillingham, Kent was always kept spick and span with antimacassars on the backs of the armchairs and flowers in a cut glass vase whenever we visited.

Like everyone else in the 1960s she was a smoker. The smell of tobacco smoke permeated the whole house! I can still see the black and red packet of Guards Filters on the occasional table and even now there is ash still encrusted inside the fly!

I have so many happy memories encapsulated in this novelty ashtray. This is the reason I treasure it and just one reason for my love of Antiques"

Favourite find?

Bill has handled literally tens of thousands of wonderful works of art so this was a tough choice. Of the many great works he has found there is one that Bill still recalls and it turned up at one of Fieldings regular Tuesday valuation days.
Catalogued as - CIRCLE OF BEN ENWONWU, NIGERIAN (1917-1994) - Tribal women carrying pitchers, watercolour, bears signature and date 1948-1951, framed, 33.5cm x 25.5cm it carried a modest pre-sale auction estimate of just £100 to £200
The owner was not keen on the picture but recalled that her parents had been given it as a gift whilst working in Nigeria and they had always claimed that the painting was valuable. Ben Enwonwu is an important artist in Nigeria, however it was quite a surprise to find one in Stourbridge. With the wonders of the internet Bill was able to compare the work with others and it looked to be pretty close, the paint handling and signature looked right. 
Bill needed confirmation from the acknowledged experts in the artist's works however to give it a positive attribution. With a lack of specialist knowledge in the UK and not really being able to justify a trip to Nigeria Bill decided to be safe and catalogue it as 'Circle of'. 
On the day there was huge amount of interest in the work  and after opening the bidding at a modest £100 the bids flew in via the online selling platform, it seems Bills gut instinct and research were absolutely spot on. Several African picture dealers fought online over the picture and it eventually sold for a sensational £3,900. A week later the successful bidder from Lagos flew over to collect the work and took it back to Africa.
Dream find?
In the world of art there is so much to chose from and this was a tough choice for Bill as there are so many paintings he would love to discover! After much consideration though Bill settled on finding a major oil painting by the Birmingham born Pre Raphaelite master Sir Edward Coley Burne Jones (1833-1898). The ultimate dream to find it lying under a blanket in a dusty attic in Stourbridge. We can dream but sometimes dreams can come true - a masterpiece by Burne-Jones was rediscovered in 2005, titled 'The  Sea Nymph' it had not been seen since it was originally sold in 1908. It's value when sold in 2005, just shy of £2 million!
So whats lurking in your attic, that lost masterpiece to make Bills dreams come true? Maybe you've always wondered who painted your original artwork, or maybe you'd just like to know a little more?
Send us images of your paintings to and we'll do the rest.

Posted on 6 April 2020 in: Auction life

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