A Tribute to our Chairman, Tony Pratt, 1955-202116/07/21
Tony Pratt, Chairman of the Canterbury Auction Galleries, passed away peacefully at home on the 11th June 2021 after celebrating his 66th birthday with friends and family. He was widely known in the industry which had been a lifelong career. He leaves a wife, two children and four grandchildren.
Tony moved to Kent as a young child, and although not common knowledge, he was proud to be a "Geordie" and remained true to his roots. He was schooled in Ashford, Kent (Grammar of course) and lived in the town for the remainder of his life, with many return visits to the north to visit family and to partake in what he believed to be the best fish and chips.
Tony had a passion for collecting things like stamps and coins from from a very early age, and his interest in antiques grew as a teenager, when he did some work experience and started to visit various auction rooms whilst working in a local garden centre.
His big break came when he was offered a trainee's job at Burrows & Day in Ashford, (although he always maintained he would have earned more money had he stayed in horticulture) but Tony was ambitious, so ambitious he almost lost his job in the first week. The sale was traditionally started by the vigorous ringing of the sale bell which Tony grabbed and rang with much enthusiasm, to be immediately admonished by a stern Head Porter of the 'old school', stating “thats MY job, Sonny Boy". This was the moment that lit the blue touch paper, culminating in his becoming director of the fine art division at General Accident, where he eventually effected a buy-out of their auction rooms at Canterbury in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history.
Not only did Tony develop his own business in accordance with his own very high standards, he cared very much about the industry and its ethics. He was proud of The Canterbury Auction Galleries election as members of SOFAA within a year of establishing the company.
The next thirty years saw many changes within the auction world and the rooms of The Canterbury Auction Galleries. House sales of previous decades dwindled, but collections continued to come to the market, and Tony handled his fair share.
From The Peter Cushing Collection, the house sale at Sibton Park and School in the 1990s, to the white glove auction of the Gregory, Bottley & Lloyd Collection of Minerals, Fossils and Geological items, The Evans Collection of Chinese Imperial Porcelains and Works of Art, The Colt Clavier Collection of Historic Pianos, and, more recently, the Annie Marchant Collection of Domestic and Country Antiques, to recall but a few.
Undoubtedly, the most unique of these auctions was the sale of Medieval stone from the Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral which took place at The Cathedral Stonemasons Yard in Broad Oak. As Tony said, “I was privileged to have been asked to conduct the sale, which was a highlight of my 30-year association with the Dean and Chapter.” Another white glove auction culminating in a proud handing over of £210,000 to the Dean, for the Cathedral restoration fund.
Such involvement with the local community was of great importance to Tony. He, along with the Directors, contributed and raised thousands of pounds over the years for charities, supported the Arts through countless initiatives and more recently, along with myself, joined the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars which we both enjoyed with gusto. Throughout lockdown, Tony delivered food parcels on behalf of The Salvation Army as part of his continued support for the charity.
More than anything, Tony was proud of his profession and his beloved auction house. It is the firm intention of myself and my fellow Directors, with the support of our staff, to carry on the business founded by my best friend and move forward maintaining the high standards demanded by our dear departed Chairman.
His family and I would like to thank all the fellow members of our profession and our many valued clients and friends for the overwhelming tributes received in these sad times.
Managing DirectorBack To News