Previous News - An Amazing Auction - Gregory, Bottley & Lloyd - 12th June



Historic dispersal of The Gregory, Bottley & Lloyd Collection of Minerals, Fossils and Natural History Curiosities is a sell-out at The Canterbury Auction Galleries

The sale of the contents of the showrooms of mineralogists and geologists Gregory, Bottley & Lloyd at The Canterbury Auction Galleries was described by one specialist collector who attended as “undoubtedly one of THE memorable events in the history of British mineralogy and mineral collecting”.

For auctioneer Michael Roberts it was a personal triumph. Not only did he catalogue and sell every one of the 532 lots in the mammoth nine-hour sale, taking bids from the Internet, telephones, commissions and from around 150 buyers packed into the saleroom, he secured the sale of every single lot.

Auction tradition has it that such an event is called a “white glove sale”, the auctioneer being presented with a pair of white gloves afterwards. The tradition was upheld, the gloves being handed to Michael by auction house principal Tony Pratt.

The sale was also a triumph for Walmer, Kent, couple Brian and Mary Lloyd, who acquired the business, founded in London in 1858, and all the old stock, original Victorian cabinets, display cases, books, specimens and geological antiques in 1982. With no one in their family interested in taking it over on their retirement, they anticipated the sale would raise around £100,000.Having attracted interest from across the country and the world, it totalled £180,000.

Writing on, the world’s largest and most visited mineralogy website, sale-goer Roy Starkey commented: “The sale lots had been laid out in a basement room and the auctioneers had managed to create something of the feel of the original upstairs premises of the show room at 30 Old Church Street in Chelsea, which I well-remember visiting when I was a schoolboy - a veritable ‘Aladdin's Cave.

“The Canterbury Auction Galleries did a tremendous job and much praise must go to the auctioneer himself for conducting the sale in an enjoyable and un-stuffy way. This was undoubtedly one of THE memorable events in the history of British mineralogy and mineral collecting.”

Bidders came from Australia; representing a museum in the Netherlands and there was great interest from collectors in Italy. Prices matched the enthusiasm, with collectors’ cabinets – full or empty – taking the top prices, with one exception: an important collection of approximately 85 specimens of polished amber, mainly from Simovovel, near Chiapas, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Baltic, most containing well preserved insects including wasps, spiders, and termites was offered with its six-drawer collector’s cabinet. It sold for its amber content to a buyer bidding from China for £5,000.

The James Gregory Educational Fossil Collection, a massive number of specimens assembled by Gregory in the 19th century and added to over the subsequent years, was another sought-after lot. It comprised more than 200 groups of exhibits from all the geological periods from Cambrian to Pleistocene, numerous specimens of each, contained in three Victorian 20-drawer cabinets and four Victorian 10-drawer cabinets, which sold for £4,000, double its presale estimate.

Prettiest single cabinet comprised 18 graduated drawers enclosed by a pair of mahogany arched and panelled doors with moulded pilasters and carved scrolls. It sold for £3,600 against an estimate of £600-800, closely followed by another fitted with 24 drawers enclosed by panelled doors and standing on a plinth base. It sold for £3,100 against the same estimate.

At £2,000, a Victorian three-drawer cutlery cabinet would have been an auction record for such a utilitarian object, but multiple bidders were more interested in the contents: a collection of approximately 75 cut and polished gems and other mineral specimens including sapphires, opals and rubies.

A group of 17 tourmaline crystals from Afghanistan and Pakistan, sold with a peridot crystal and aquamarine, both also from Pakistan, sold for £1,700 against an estimate of £700-1,000, while a group of 25 tourmailine crystals from Nuristan in Afghanistan doubled its estimate to sell for £1,400.

The most valuable single mineral was a specimen of Siberian malachite with polished faces, collected in the 19th century and formerly in the William Sansom Vaux Collection, previously held in the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. It sold for £1,050, as did a set of 12 replicas of famous diamonds, cut from cubic zirconia, in a velour covered fitted case, with printed details of each stone.

Entries of good quality fine art, antiques and collectors’ items are now invited for the next Two Day sale on August 5-6, the deadline for which is June 27. We are also keen to discuss the sale of collections, as we are specialists in logistics and marketing and are confident that we could achieve top prices for you. For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 01227 763337 or

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