Auctioneer Lyon & Turnbull hails record sales

LYON & Turnbull, the fine art auctioneer, has hailed record sales of more than £26 million, an 88 per cent hike on pre-pandemic totals.

It comes as it realised several world records for artworks and artefacts across a range of its 25 categories, it said.

The firm moved to live online auctions at the start of the pandemic, which resulted in a 15% rise in the number of new buyers since 2020, it said.


In May, a French Gothic casket from Aberdeenshire achieved a world record at £1.4m, the firm added.

Five paintings by Scottish Colourist Samuel John Peploe sold for more than £1m.

Gavin Strang, of Lyon & Turnbull, said: “This year (2022) has already got off to a flying start with the sale of a letter bearing Mary Queen of Scots’ handwriting making, not only news around the world, but £32,500, more than double the asking price (£14,000).”

HeraldScotland: Gavin Strang, of Lyon & Turnbull, hailed the results.Gavin Strang, of Lyon & Turnbull, hailed the results.

Lyon & Turnbull, established in Edinburgh in 1826, holds around 42 auctions a year across the UK. During 2021 the average lot values across all categories increased by 75%.

Also in 2021, a sixteenth century Italian maiolica dish, made in the city of Urbino and depicting a Biblical scene, was one of the items found tucked away in a drawer by one of Lyon & Turnbull’s experts as part of its sale of the contents of Lowood House in Melrose on the banks of the River Tweed.

It sold for £1.3m after bidding started at £80,000. The price marked another world record for this type of early, elaborate pottery, the firm said.

HeraldScotland: Theodora Burrell, European ceramics specialist, with the rare dish. Image by Gary Doak.Theodora Burrell, European ceramics specialist, with the rare dish. Image by Gary Doak.

The amount achieved for a rare drawing by Dame Barbara Hepworth was also unprecedented for a work by the renowned mid-20th century artist Lyon & Turnbull said.

It was given as a wedding present to her fellow artist and friend Wilhelmina Barns-Graham in 1949 when she married the poet David Lewis.

Auctioned on behalf of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, the “double nude” drawing, Figure and Mirror, sold for nearly £500,000 (£471,000) in autumn 2021.

HeraldScotland: Specialists Philip Smith and Charlotte Riordan with Figure and Mirror.Specialists Philip Smith and Charlotte Riordan with Figure and Mirror.

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