Discover Ilkley’ is Behind the Scenes at Hartleys | Discover Ilkley

Discover Ilkley is Behind the Scenes at Hartleys

There’s a buzz at Hartleys’ Auctioneers and Valuers in Ilkley.  The team are preparing for their Spring & Interiors Fine Art Sale which took place on the 16th March 2022 and Emma Padgett, Director and Office Manager, is managing the deadlines for its fully illustrated catalogue. Considering there are 786 items in the sale which need to be photographed and listed, this is no mean feat.  But after over 30 years in the role, Emma is well used to the pressure and has a passionate team of long standing and dedicated employees to help her.

It’s very much a family affair at Hartley’s, one of the leading auction houses for antiques and fine art sales outside London. It was in in 1906 that Thomas Hartley moved to Ilkley and purchased the old business of Robinson’s Invalid Couches, and set up in business at Tower Buildings, Cowpasture Road, with departments for household furnishings, removals, undertaking and notably an auction saleroom.

Charles Hartley
Pictured Above: Charles Hartley

His youngest son, Douglas, took over this side of the business and in 1929 moved it to Victoria Hall, Little Lane. It was later, in 1936 that he started with Douglas Smallwood the new firm of Dacre, Son & Hartley, which grew to be the biggest independent firm of chartered surveyors in Yorkshire. Meanwhile Andrew Hartley, the third generation of the family, had taken on the furniture and fine arts side and ultimately was able to concentrate exclusively on the chattels department and to develop it to one of international status with a turnover of £3 million per year. Since 1989, the saleroom has been run as a totally independent business under the banner of Andrew Hartley Fine Arts before rebranding as Hartleys with the emphasis on personal service to both vendors and purchasers.

Emma, Andrew’s daughter, joined the business at this time to manage its day to day running and Charles Hartley, her brother and the fourth generation of auctioneers, took up the gavel in 2012 after his degree at Durham University and his Art Market Masters in London.

HARTLEYS hold auctions every single week without fail, except when the date has fallen on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

These weekly Home Furnishings and Collectables auctions contain items from private clients, or from house clearing or moving. There is always an abundance of stock – each auction has approximately 1,000 lots – and an auction has never had to be cancelled due to a lack of sales items. In addition, they hold four Fine Art sales a year, as well as dedicated Toy and Wine sales.

The business is located in Victoria Hall which was built in 1889 as a concert hall with a swimming pool downstairs. There are two separate salerooms which means the team can be preparing one sale downstairs whilst the current sale is held upstairs, so it all runs like clockwork.

17 people make up the Hartley’s team, including valuers and top specialists as well as external experts in their specific fields, including books, coins and stamps. Any singular lots of high merit get held back by the valuers from the weekly Home Furnishings & Collectables Sales and placed into the specialist sections for worldwide sales.

As Emma continues: “I love the variety of the job. No two days are ever the same and it’s fascinating being able to see all the items that come through our doors.

“We’ve also had some great finds over the years. Our highest sale price over the last decade came when one of valuers identified an item of potential high market value which we offered on the World market. It was a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel dated 1493. Only a handful of copies exist of this early form of printing and at auction it fetched over £100,000 (including buyers premium). It actually came from a house clearance in Guiseley”.

And the pandemic didn’t put a stop to their auctions, with the team using live internet bidding instead of in-person sales. Live bidding had in fact always been available for catalogued events, due to the worldwide interest in these sales, but the team embraced it after the first lockdown for all their weekly auctions with great success.

In-person auctions are now back again in Victoria Hall, much to the delight of the team. As Emma says: “Our weekly Home Furnishings and Collectables auctions are held every Wednesday and are open for anyone to come and view and buy. There are all sorts of eclectic lots, including home furnishings, accessories, ceramics, records, vintage and much more, and if you haven’t visited us before, it’s well worth popping in.

It’s definitely an experience and somewhat of a hidden gem here in Ilkley. “You can also give the team a call if you need a valuation as that’s another service we offer. These valuations for sale are carried out free of charge, either completed at Victoria Hall, at a clients’ properties or via email.”

It’s clear that this asset to our town will be here for many more generations to come, under the strong and passionate leadership of the Hartley family.

Hartley’s Auctioneers and Valuers is located at Victoria Hall, Little Lane (opposite Ilkley Cinema).

For more information, visit their website at: www.hartleysauctions.co.uk